For Grades 5-8 , week of July 20, 2020

1. Spotlight on Violence

When Major League Soccer resumed its season this month, teams and players voiced their support for the Black Lives Matter movement in ways that ranged from silent protests to raised fists. The Philadelphia Union made an even more dramatic statement. Each Union player wore a uniform featuring the name of a victim of police brutality instead of their own. Goalkeeper Andre Blake wore the name of George Floyd, whose killing in May by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota sparked worldwide protests against police brutality and institutional racism. Defender Ray Gaddis wore the name of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her home in Louisville, Kentucky in March. Defender Mark McKenzie, wore the name of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old who was killed in Cleveland, Ohio while carrying a toy gun. The players also wrote personal messages on their uniforms. McKenzie’s message asked: “AM I NEXT?” The Black Lives Matter movement continues to gain support across the United States. In the newspaper or online find and closely read ways people, businesses or communities are expressing support. Use what you read to write a personal or political column, analyzing which efforts will bring real change and which are less substantial.

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. Lakes in Hot Water

It has been intensely hot in America’s Midwest this summer and that has sent the water temperatures in the Great Lakes to record levels. Surface water temperatures have averaged well into the 70s, and Lake Erie has hit an average surface temperature of almost 80 degrees. The temperatures have averaged 8 to 11 degrees above normal for Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Ontario, scientists report. Lake Superior, which is very deep and windy, has averaged 6 degrees above normal. The higher water temperatures have been welcomed by swimmers, but scientists worry that they will cause algae blooms that can harm wildlife and even people. Global warming is affecting water and land habitats all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different effects. Use what you read to create the home page for a website showing various effects of global warming on land and water habitats. Decide which effects to feature and 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.

3. Treasured Vase

Lovers of antiques are always looking for treasures in unusual places. They got more than they bargained for with a discovery in a remote country house owned by an 80-year-old woman in central Europe. In a dusty room where the woman’s cats and dogs roamed freely, they found a “lost masterpiece” porcelain vase made in China in the 1700s. The vase was a rare “double walled” creation that the woman had stored in a cupboard for more than 50 years. How rare? When it went up for an auction sale by the Sotheby’s company this month, it sold for a whopping $9-million! “It is a miracle” that the blue-and-white, flower-patterned vase “survived half a century in a home surrounded by pets,” a Sotheby’s spokesperson told CNN News. Antiques, artworks or other items sell for huge amounts of money at auctions when they showcase special or unusual skills by the people who created them. In the newspaper or online, search for the world “auction” and find a story about the sale of something unusual or special. Closely read the story and use your critical thinking skills to write an art or antiques column telling why it sold for such large amount of money.

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.

4. ‘Auntie’ Assistance

The coronavirus epidemic has disrupted the lives of people around the world. But sometimes people can turn a disruption into a positive thing. Take the case of comedian Kristina Wong of Los Angeles, California. She was about to launch a national tour when the virus forced the closure of businesses and a lockdown that kept families at home. So she decided to do something positive with her free time. Skilled at sewing from making props and sets for her act, she started sewing facemasks for people most at risk to the virus, the Washington Post reported. She broke out her Hello Kitty sewing machine, rounded up fabric scraps and Internet friends and launched the what has become the Auntie Sewing Squad. In Asian culture, “an auntie is someone who helps you feel loved and cared for,” she said, and that is what she and her friends are doing. In four months they have made and shipped more than 60,000 masks for vulnerable people. “Our goal is to reach all communities who aren’t getting support with masks from other groups,” she said. During the coronavirus epidemic, people have stepped up to help others in a variety of ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people doing this. Write a letter to the editor calling attention to one effort and how it provides important assistance to people or the community.

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. Biking on Home

When the coronavirus shut down flights between the European nations of Scotland and Greece, a 20-year-old college student figured out an adventurous way to get home. He bought a bike and made the 2,175-mile journey on two wheels. It took Kleon Papadimitriou 48 days to make the trip, and after completing it he told CNN News “It’s just now dawning on me how big of an achievement this was.” With a sleeping bag, tent and a healthy supply of peanut butter, he biked from Scotland, down through England, across the English Channel to the Netherlands, through Germany and Austria and down the coast of Italy. For the last leg of his trip he took an ocean ferry to the Greek port of Patras and then biked to his home in the city of Athens. He covered 35 to 75 miles a day and camped in fields and forests when not staying with friends or acquaintances. “I … learn[ed] a lot of things about myself, about my limits, about my strengths and my weaknesses,” he said. “… I really hope that the trip inspire[s] at least one more person to go out of their comfort zone and try something new, something big.” People often learn things about themselves by trying something new. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has done this. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend describing what this person did and what he/she learned about him/herself. Finish your letter by telling something you learned about yourself once by trying something new.

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.