For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 28, 2019

1. Celebrity Costumes

Halloween is this week and many people are talking about the most popular costumes. Every year people dress up as celebrities, sports stars or political candidates. As a class, discuss celebrities who people like to dress up as, and why people might want to dress that way. Then use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read stories about celebrity costumes that are popular this Halloween. Pick a celebrity that you would like to dress up as from the newspaper or Internet. Brainstorm an idea for a costume, draw a picture of it and explain it to the class. For added challenge, make the costume an animal costume and explain why you chose that animal for the celebrity.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

2. Salute to Leonardo

Leonardo da Vinci was one of the most talented people in history. He was a scientist, an inventor, an architect, an astronomer, a sculptor and a painter, to name just a few of his talents. His paintings like the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper” are considered among the greatest of all time, and his drawings like “Vitruvian Man” reveal his deep knowledge and interest in scientific topics and human anatomy. This month, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, the Louvre Museum in Paris, France will present its largest exhibition ever of the artist’s work. The exhibit, which opened October 24, includes 120 works, including paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculptures and artifacts connected to Leonardo’s life. Most significantly, 11 paintings are among the works, the most ever gathered for one Leonardo show. Only 15 Leonardo paintings are known to exist. Leonardo da Vinci was a man who had talents in many fields. Many people today have talents in many or more than one field. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a multi-talented person. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay examining how the person benefits from having talents in different fields, and how the talents complement or support each other.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.

3. Lebron’s Money Jersey

Before he became one of the greatest stars in NBA history, Lebron James was one of the greatest stars in high school history. James was so good he jumped right from high school to the NBA and was the league’s top rookie in his first year. This month, James’s high school career got new attention with the sale of a jersey he wore for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. The jersey, which he reportedly wore for his first appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, sold for a whopping $187,500 at an auction. James was 17 when he wore the jersey before being chosen Number One in the 2003 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. James’s high school jersey isn’t the only one to make news this summer. In August, the basketball jersey that future President Barack Obama wore at the Punahou Prep School in Hawaii sold at auction for $120,000. People often pay great sums of money for rare items or items connected to famous people. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about one such situation. Then imagine you had unlimited wealth. Write a personal column telling what rare item you would like to buy, and why. Share ideas as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. So Many Girl Turtles

Global warming is threatening wildlife all over the world, but one of the oddest threats is affecting sea turtles. As temperatures rise, the number of sea turtles that are female or male will change — and change dramatically. Sea turtles are reptiles and lay eggs in the sand of ocean beaches to reproduce. But due to a quirk of nature, the temperature at which the eggs hatch determines whether the baby turtles are male or female. If temperatures are lower than 81.86 degrees Fahrenheit, the turtles will be males. If temperatures are in the mid-80s there will be a mix of males and females. If temperatures are higher than 87.8 degrees however, all the turtles will be female. As temperatures rise in the nesting grounds of sea turtles, more and more of the hatchlings are turning out to be female, wildlife experts say. On the Cape Verde islands off the coast of western Africa, 84 percent of hatchlings are now female, the Washington Post newspaper reported. And the problem could be getting worse. “Males here could vanish in two or three decades,” one researcher told the Post. “There will be no reproduction.” Global warming is affecting wildlife in many different ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about the effects on one species. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, explaining how the species is affected, why that is important to the environment and what could be done to address the effect.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. An Amazing Hand

In the world of science and technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are two of the fastest growing fields. Now a research firm in San Francisco, California has combined them to create an artificial hand that can solve the challenging Rubik’s Cube puzzle. To solve the Rubik’s Cube, players have to manipulate colored blocks inside a large block so that each side of the large block is one of six colors at the end. The artificial hand developed by researchers at the Open AI lab is programmed to solve the Rubik’s Cube with finger-like movement and dexterity and the logic and ability to learn a new task the way a human would. And it can do it way faster than humans. “Solving a Rubik’s Cube requires unprecedented dexterity and the ability to execute flawlessly or recover from mistakes successfully,” the researchers said. “Even for humans, solving a Rubik’s Cube … is no simple task.” Developing the artificial hand that can solve the Rubik’s Cube puzzle was a high achievement in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another breakthrough in one of these fields. Use what you read to write a technology or consumer column explaining the breakthrough, why it is important, whom it will benefit, and how soon.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.