For Grades 5-8 , week of Aug. 24, 2020

1. A First for Football

Back when the Washington Football Team was known as the Redskins, it was the last team in the National Football League to have an African American player on its roster. Now it is making racial history in a positive way. It has hired Jason Wright as the first Black team president in league history. Wright, 38, played seven seasons in the league as a running back before becoming a business consultant. He has never had an executive job in the NFL and is the youngest team president in the league. The first African American to play for Washington was running back and wide receiver Bobby Mitchell, who joined the team in 1962 and went on to have a Hall of Fame career. African Americans and other people of color are achieving new things every day in America. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one of these groundbreakers. Use what you read to write a personal column detailing the skills and character traits this person needed to achieve success and how learning about those skills and traits could help others.

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.

2. Retiring a Turkey

If you’ve ever heard an ice cream truck coming down the street, you know the song “Turkey in the Straw” that many trucks play. What you may not know is that that song has a racist history as a part of minstrel shows that put down African Americans. To correct that, the Good Humor ice cream company and the hip hop singer RZA of Wu-Tang fame have teamed up to create a new jingle for ice cream trucks so that “Turkey” can be retired. The new jingle still has a cheerful, bouncy sound, but it won’t remind people of a troubling period in American history. Good Humor, which has not owned ice cream trucks since the 1970s, urged companies that do to stop using “Turkey in the Straw” and adopt the new RZA song. “We want to be part of the solution on this issue,” the company said. Many businesses and organizations are re-examining the images and messaging they use to ensure they do not contain racial stereotypes or connections to racial discrimination from the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about such efforts. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor giving your view on the importance of doing this kind of re-assessment.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

3. Black History Revealed

Harvard is a world-famous university, and its libraries hold thousands of priceless historical artifacts. This year thousands more will become available free to the public thanks to a first-of-its-kind effort to digitize materials of importance to African American history. The Houghton Library at the Massachusetts university has announced that for the 2020-2021 academic year it will pause all other digital projects to focus solely on building a Black History digital collection. The project, called “Slavery, Abolition, Emancipation, and Freedom: Primary Sources from Houghton Library,” dovetails with calls from the Black Lives Matter movement to examine systemic racism and discrimination throughout U.S. history. Materials slated for digitization include written records and experiences of former slaves; abolitionist letters and meeting minutes; proceedings from racial justice-focused “Colored Conventions”; histories of Black Civil War soldiers; and bills of sale for enslaved Black people, the Harvard Gazette newspaper reported. For many years, the experiences, views and voices of African Americans were not included in history books written by white authors. Projects like Harvard’s effort to create a Black History collection are designed to fill in the gaps and present a more complete picture of Black experiences. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other institutions doing this. Write a paragraph or short paper outlining how such efforts will provide a more complete history of the nation.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Thank You, Ms. Robot

All over the world people like to play lottery games. And part of the thrill for winners is getting a big check in a ceremony with lottery officials. In the North American nation of Canada, the award ceremony took a new turn for winner Guylaine Desjardins. Due to the coronavirus epidemic, she was awarded her $6-million winning check in the province of Quebec from a life-sized robot built by college students. The robot named SARA was built and designed by students at the University of Quebec's school of engineering in partnership with Centech, a non-profit that supports technology startups. Desjardin didn’t mind. She plans to use her newfound riches to buy herself a three-wheel motorcycle, spoil her two sons and travel, CNN News reported. Robots are being used more and more in different industries and career fields. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about robots being used in new ways. Use what you read to write a consumer column analyzing how the use of robots improves efficiency or results in these fields.

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. Rescue at Sea

Paddle-boarding can be a lot of fun, but it can be dangerous if you aren’t careful. A pair of young paddle-boarders from the European nation of Ireland found that out when they were swept out to sea and lost for 15 hours. Cousins Ellen Glynn, 17, and Sara Feeney, 23, had gone paddle-boarding off a beach near the city of Galway around 9 p.m. when a strong wind blew them away from the coast. They were found 15 hours later by a pair of Irish fishermen, clinging to a lobster buoy 20 miles from where they started. Patrick Oliver and his 18-year-old son, Morgan, were hailed as heroes after finding the women and bringing them safely to shore. Stories about people getting rescued are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a dramatic rescue. Retell the story in your own words for family or friends. Then discuss the emotions felt by those who were rescued, the people who performed the rescue and any other people involved or witnessing the rescue.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.