For Grades 5-8 , week of Nov. 15, 2021

1. Looking for Workers

The winter holidays are a huge time for businesses and stores that sell toys and other products people want to give as gifts. This year those businesses are facing huge challenges. First, they have to acquire and stock the products people want to buy, a task made more difficult by backups in the supply chain. Just as important, they have to find enough employees to sell and ship the products sold in malls or online. To attract seasonal employees for the holidays, companies are offering all kinds of benefits, the New York Times newspaper reports. Some are paying cash bonuses; others are raising pay or offering more flexible hours. Some are even offering free tuition at local or online colleges. The National Retail Federation has forecast that stores and companies will hire 500,000 to 665,000 seasonal workers this year, way more than the 486,000 hired in 2020 when the coronavirus had restricted many businesses. That means there is more competition for workers. “They can pick and choose who’s got the highest, best benefits, bonuses and hourly rates,” an employment expert at Columbia University said. “And as we’ve seen, the escalation has been striking.” In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories and ads about businesses offering extra benefits to attract workers. Use what you read to write a business column analyzing the offers and which you think would be most appealing to potential employees.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

2. Name That Glacier!

The international summit on climate change has ended in the European city of Glasgow, Scotland, but researchers want to make sure no one forgets the challenges that lie ahead. To call permanent attention to global warming and climate change, researchers on the continent of Antarctica have named a melting glacier after the summit city. The 62-mile Glasgow Glacier is a physical reminder of the impact of climate change because it has been experiencing severe melting in recent years. It is one of nine Antarctic glaciers being named after cities that have hosted international summits on climate change and global warming. The others are Geneva, Rio, Berlin, Kyoto, Bali, Stockholm, Paris and Incheon. Naming the glaciers in this way provides “a stark reminder of what we are working to preserve,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. People concerned about climate change and global warming are planning a variety of ongoing activities to urge leaders to act on the issue. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these efforts. Use what you read to write an editorial assessing which efforts will be the most effective to keep a spotlight on the issue and put pressure on world leaders.

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.

3. Paddling to School

As schools re-open for in-person learning, leaders are facing an unexpected problem — a shortage of bus drivers willing to drive vehicles full of kids, many of them unvaccinated. In the state of Colorado, a 12-year-old seventh grader came up with an unusual alternative to crowded buses. Josh Smith pulled out his kayak and paddled across a reservoir to Summit Middle School in the community of Frisco. As the days get shorter, the two-mile round trip sometimes starts in the dark for Josh, but he likes the experience. “I really like how every time I do it the sun rises when I'm in the middle of the lake and the whole lake is really smooth like glass,” he said in an interview with the local TV 12 news. “I just think it’s really pretty. … It’s worth it.” Josh said he’s already figured out what he’s going to do when the reservoir freezes over and there’s snow on the ground. “I’m gonna cross-country ski across the lake," he said. “I’m always looking for new adventures.” Going to school in person has required students to make adjustments in their routines or behavior. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about adjustments that students and teachers have had to make. Use what you read to write a personal column detailing which adjustments have been hardest for you and your classmates, and which have been easiest. Share and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and making logical inferences from them; .writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. Dogs’ Best Friend

It’s often been said that dogs are “man’s best friend.” An 11-year-old in New York City is turning that saying around by proving that he is “dogs’ best friend.” Evan Bisnauth reads to them to calm them down at shelters, he makes videos to help them find “forever homes” and now he has just been honored for his efforts by being named Kid of the Year by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Evan first got involved helping dogs when his mom discovered a program called Books With Boroughbreds that encourages children to build reading skills by reading to abandoned dogs. The first time he went to a shelter “I spent five hours reading to every dog on the first day,” Evan told the Washington Post newspaper. “After that, I wanted to go every weekend.” Evan, who is now in sixth grade, continued reading in person until the coronavirus epidemic forced him to stay home. Then he started making online videos of dogs that needed homes to help them get adopted. “Someday, I want to have my own animal rescue and I’ll take in every dog I find that needs help,” he said. “I’m still going to read books to them. Every single one.” Online videos are a way to reach people and get them to take action on issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an issue or problem that needs attention. Think like Evan Bisnauth and brainstorm an idea for an online video to call attention to the problem. Write an outline for your video, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Oldest Hiker

The Appalachian Trail is one of the most popular — and challenging — hiking routes in the United States. It starts in the state of Georgia, travels 2,200 miles along the Appalachian Mountains and ends at one the easternmost points in the U.S in the state of Maine. Every year, thousands of “through hikers” attempt to walk the entire length of the trail in less than 12 consecutive months, a feat that requires strength, willpower and endurance. This month an 83-year-old man from the state of Alabama completed a “through hike” on the trail and in the process became the oldest person known to have done it. M.J. Eberhart started in Georgia and traveled the trail in segments. “Eighty percent of it is mental grit,” he said in an interview with the New York Times. “And that is why so many people fail.” The Appalachian Trail starts at Springer Mountain in Georgia and ends at Mount Katahdin in Maine, crossing 14 states. Older adults are living longer, healthier and more active lives than ever before. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about older adults doing active and challenging things. Use what you read to design a poster highlighting the benefits of doing such things for older adults. Give your poster an inspirational headline. Use images from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your poster.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.