For Grades 5-8 , week of Aug. 05, 2019

1. Triumph by Reading

Reading aloud offers many benefits for people. It builds vocabulary, builds confidence and builds skills for connecting with audiences. Reading aloud also can help you overcome reading handicaps or obstacles. Just ask 24-year-old Rachel Oehlert of Thornton, Colorado. Ever since childhood, Oehlert had struggled with dyslexia, a vision condition that mixes up letters on a page, showing them as backward or upside down. Then in 2016, she came up with an idea that would help her solve her dyslexia issues. She bought a princess costume and started visiting children in a children’s hospital dressed as Belle from “Beauty and the Beast.” Reading in costume to children gave her the confidence to slow down and concentrate on the words she was reading, the Washington Post newspaper reports. Her dyslexia issues started to go away. “It was difficult,” she said in an interview, “but now I see it as a learning difference, not a disability. People with different brains learn in different ways. I see the world differently — and I think the world needs that.” People often inspire others by overcoming difficulties. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people overcoming difficulties in creative or unusual ways. Use what you read to write a blog entry for the Internet, detailing people’s experiences and telling how others could learn from them.

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.

2. Pollution Tourism

Plastic pollution is a problem all over the world. In the European nation of the Netherlands, however, one company is turning the fight against plastic into a tourist activity. The Plastic Whale company takes tourists on tours of canals and waterways in Amsterdam and other cities. And while visitors take in the boats and buildings that line the canals, they do double duty fishing out plastic bottles and other pollution from the canals they are traveling. Plastic Whale equips visitors with fishing rods and thick gloves to help them reel in debris from the water. “It’s a completely other way of visiting Amsterdam,” Plastic Whale founder Marius Smit told the AFP news service. “… You add something positive to the canals and to the city because you’re making it cleaner.” Last year Plastic Whale cruises attracted 12,000 visitors in Amsterdam and the port city of Rotterdam, and collected 46,000 plastic bottles. The bottles were recycled for use in office furniture and other products. People try to solve pollution problems in many different ways. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about efforts that have been successful. Use what you read to create a website showcasing Pollution Success Stories. Design the home page to showcase different efforts. Pick an image to illustrate each. Then write headlines and text blocks to explain each category.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic. they need.

3. Team Effort

Children with autism often have difficulty connecting with others or making friends. So it was a big deal when an autistic elementary student in Idaho asked his mother to throw him a ninth birthday party so he could invite his classmates. Christian Larsen’s mother sent out invitations to the students her son selected, but was dismayed when only one responded. That’s when the local Nampa High School football team stepped in. Tipped off by a family friend, coach Dan Holtry asked his players if they would like to help a little boy have a happier birthday. “The players jumped at the opportunity,” Holtry told CNN News. “ … Within seconds of a sent text they were 100 percent in. No hesitation whatsoever.” The team didn’t arrive until after the party was under way. But the players made quite an entrance, chanting Christian’s name as they walked up to the house. The players organized games that made Christian feel part of the action and stayed until the very end. The surprise guests had a huge impact. Christian’s mom reported he has said “multiple times that it was the best birthday ever!” Students often make news by helping people facing obstacles or difficulties. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a student or students doing this. Use what you read to create a drawing or artwork showing the kind of help offered and the impact it had. Give your artwork a title and share with family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

4. Leaping into Politics

If you want to make a difference, it doesn’t matter how old you are. Teens and younger students often help solve problems in their communities and senior adults are making contributions well into their retirement. In the European nation of Germany, one senior is inspiring people of all ages by getting into local politics — at age 100! Great-grandmother Lisel Heise was elected to the town council in the community of Kirchheimbolanden just weeks after celebrating her 100th birthday. Heise had been motivated to try politics after getting involved in a debate over reopening a local swimming pool. She supported the pool but opponents cut her off at a public meeting, because they didn’t respect what she had to say. “They … pulled the plug!” she said. “Now people from around the world are coming to talk to me. Who’s laughing now?” People get involved in politics for many different reasons. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories explaining why different candidates got into politics. Write a paragraph calling attention to one reason you found interesting or compelling. Then write a second paragraph discussing what could motivate you to get involved in politics.

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

5. Longest Glass Bridge

If you are afraid of heights, it’s unlikely you’ll be checking out the newest attraction in the Asian nation of China. China is opening a new walkway that will be the longest glass bridge in the world. With a glass floor, the bridge will give visitors the sensation that they are walking on air at very great heights. Located in southwest China, the bridge will give breathtaking views of waterfalls and limestone formations in the Huangguoshu Scenic Area. The bridge will be 1,804 feet long — 200 feet longer than the next longest glass bridge (also in China). With a spiral design, the bridge will walk visitors through the air at different heights, offering a variety of looks at the natural landscape. Buildings, bridges and other structures often are attractions people want to visit. In the newspaper or online, find and study ads, photos or stories about unusual or interesting structures. Use what you read to write a travel column, focusing on several structures worth a visit — and why.

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.