For Grades 5-8 , week of July 27, 2020

1. Another LeBron Record

Basketball star LeBron James has broken many records in his 17-year NBA career. Now he has a new one: For the most expensive modern sports card ever sold. The signed card from James’s rookie year with the Cleveland Cavaliers was sold by a private collector for more than $1.8-million this month, setting a record for the most expensive sports card in the modern era (after 1980). The card sold for nearly twice the previous record of $923,000 for a card featuring baseball star Mike Trout. In his NBA career James has won three NBA championships and four league MVP awards. Now with the Los Angeles Lakers, James will be seeking his fourth NBA championship when the league resumes play this week. LeBron James makes news both on and off the basketball court. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about something James does on the court this week. Then find and closely read a story about something James has done off the court. Use what you read to write a sports column examining what character traits James needed to be successful for both his on-court and off-court activities.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. Screaming for Iceland

With the coronavirus epidemic, business shutdowns and mass unemployment, it’s been a stressful year in the United States and around the world. And that’s not counting the stress of Black Lives Matter protests and confrontations. It’s enough to make you scream — which is just what the North Atlantic nation of Iceland wants you to do. Through a specially designed website, the nation’s tourist board is inviting people to come online and let out their loudest scream of stress and frustration, CNN News reports. It’s even offering tips on how to scream most effectively. The recorded screams will be released into the “wide open spaces” of Iceland’s “vast and untouched” wilderness areas. “You’ll feel better, we promise,” the tourist board declares on its website. “And when you’re ready, come let it out for real.” Iceland is the least populated country on the continent of Europe and features volcanoes, geysers, glaciers, fyords, mountains and lava fields. Screaming is one way to release stress and frustration, but there are many other ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ways people release and relieve stress. Use what you read to write a self-help column for the newspaper offering five or 10 ways to relieve stress. Discuss with family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

3. Age-Old Honor

One of the highest honors in the European nation of England is to be given a knighthood by the Queen. When Queen Elizabeth II knighted World War II veteran Captain Tom Moore this month, it was one for the record books. The combined ages of the Queen and Captain Moore totaled 194! Queen Elizabeth II turned 94 on April 21 this spring and Moore celebrated his 100th birthday nine days later. Queen Elizabeth has been queen for 68 years, since ascending to England’s throne at age 25 upon the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952. Moore served as an armored warfare specialist in World War II and won national praise this spring for raising nearly $40 million for England’s National Health Service by walking laps of his garden leading up to his 100th birthday. In England earning a knighthood is one of the highest honors. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other ways people can be honored. Then pick a person in the news who you think deserves to be honored for his/her life, achievements or work. Decide what kind of honor this person should get, and write a paragraph explaining why.

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

4. Separated No More

After America’s Civil War, racial segregation kept black and white Americans apart in schools, in businesses and in other aspects of life. In a city in the state of Texas, segregation also kept people apart in death. For more than 60 years, a chain link fence divided a cemetery in the city of Mineola into sections for black residents and white residents. Until now. This summer, the cemetery owners joined with religious, government and community leaders to remove the fence, CNN News reports. National discussions of systemic racism played a part, but for many local leaders it was just time. “With all the national things that are transpiring, I think it was opening the hearts and minds of more people to … recognize the symbolism that [the fence] represents,” said the Rev. Demethruis Boyd. “Its removal was a historical event.” All over the country, the Black Lives Matter movement has prompted communities to make changes in traditions, attitudes or the way things are done. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a change one community is making. Use what you read to write a short editorial explaining the change and whether you think it was needed.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Rainbow House

“Red and orange, green and blue, shiny yellow, purple too. All the colors that we know live up in the rainbow.” As with the children’s song, those colors also live on the side of a house in Moline, Illinois — and they’re going to stay there, even though city officials had asked they be removed. At issue is a house owned by Taylor Berg, who painted her house in rainbow stripes with two sons, one of whom has cerebral palsy and loved the colors. City officials did not, at least at first. They sent Berg a notice that she needed to repaint her house so that it looked more like other houses on the street, or face fines of up to $750 a day. But after an online petition drew more than 17,000 signatures of support, the city changed its mind. It not only told Berg she could keep her rainbow house, but apologized for threatening to fine her. “I just couldn’t be sorrier that [this] happened,” the mayor told the Quad City Times newspaper. Meanwhile, the rainbow house has become something of a tourist attraction. One of the reasons Moline officials rescinded the order for Taylor Berg to repaint her house was that it may have violated her right to freedom of speech guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Freedom of speech takes many forms in the United States. It is not just what people say, but what they express through movies, books, songs, TV shows, T-shirt slogans and even artworks. In the newspaper or online, find examples of different ways people exercise freedom of speech. Use what you find to create a poster showcasing “Freedom of Speech” in this country. With family or friends, discuss how life would be different if U.S. citizens didn’t have freedom of speech.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.