1. ‘Lucky’ Students
When it snows during the winter in America, millions of kids rush outside to build a snowman. Unless they have no snow where they live. Then they never get the hands-on experience of rolling snow into big balls to make the bottom, middle and head of this familiar snow “friend.” In the southern state of Florida this winter, a kindergarten teacher reading a story to her class discovered that most of her students had never played with snow, or even seen it. So Robin Hughes came up with an unusual solution. She sent a message to her sister in the state of Kentucky with a special request. Would she make a snowman the next time it snowed and mail it to her class in sunny Florida? This month it snowed in Kentucky, and Hughes’ sister Amber Estes fulfilled the special request. She made a small snowman with a carrot nose, blueberry eyes and sticks for arms. She then packed him up with ice packs and insulation and shipped him by overnight mail to Florida. When he arrived, he caused a sensation at South Shore Charter Academy school. “They wanted to touch him,” Hughes told the Washington Post newspaper. “They asked ‘Is he coming to life?’” — like Frosty the Snowman. They named the snowman Lucky, and every day they bring him out of the cafeteria freezer just so the students can touch him. Touching or building a snowman yourself is called “learning by experience.” As a class, talk about other things you could learn about by experiencing them yourself. In the newspaper or online, find and study a story or photo involving something you could “learn by experience.” Write a paragraph explaining how learning by experience yourself would be more effective than just reading about a subject.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
2. Super Bowl GOAT
Next Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, and football fans all over the nation are gearing up to see whether the Cincinnati Bengals or Los Angeles Rams will win the National Football League championship. One thing is certain, however. One of the greatest Super Bowl players of all time will not be playing this year — or ever again. Quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were knocked out of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Rams this year, and then Brady followed up that news by announcing he is retiring forever as a player. It’s unlikely anyone will ever match Brady’s Super Bowl accomplishments, which earned him the nickname as the Greatest of All Time (GOAT). He appeared in the Super Bowl 10 times and won 7. He was the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player five times. He also holds Super Bowl records for passing yards (2,838), pass attempts (392), touchdown passes (18), completions (256) — and once led his team to an overtime Super Bowl victory after being behind by 25 points. Tom Brady was a star in the Super Bowl time after time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about players who could be stars in this year’s Super Bowl. Use what you read and previous knowledge to write a sports column about one of these players, telling why you think he could be a star in this year’s game.
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.
3. What a Story!
One of the great things about learning to write is that you can write stories or books for others to enjoy. A second grader from the state of Idaho wrote a book he wanted to share recently, and he’s been successful beyond his wildest dreams. Eight-year-old Dillon Helbig wrote and illustrated a children’s story “The Adventures of Dillon Helbig’s Crismis,” then found an unusual way for others to see it. He sneaked the red-covered notebook containing his 81-page story into a local library and slipped it in among the picture books for kids his age. He later told his mom what he’d done, since “it was naughty-ish.” But when they went to the library to make sure it hadn’t been thrown out, they got a surprise, the Washington Post newspaper reported. The library staff had read his book, and the branch manager had even shared it with his 6-year-old son, who said it was one of the funniest books he’d ever read. The staff asked Dillon for permission to stick a bar code onto the book and formally add it to the library’s collection. When a local TV station did a story on Dillon’s book, people started lining up to take it out of the library. There is now a list of more than 50 people who have signed up to check out the book, and some may have to wait up to two years! Best of all, other kids are saying they want to write books of their own to share with others. Writers often get ideas for adventure stories like Dillon’s from things they read in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story that could be the start of an adventure story. Write an outline for your story telling what would happen. Then write the opening scene. You can be the star of your story, if you like.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. Black History Month
This week, communities across the nation are celebrating Black History Month. During Black History Month people learn new things about the achievements and heritage of African Americans. In honor of the celebration, use the newspaper and Internet to learn some new things about African Americans who are making news today. With a partner, find and closely read stories about three black leaders who are achieving success in their careers or making a positive difference in their communities. For each, make a list of new things you learned by reading the stories. Then make a list of things you would still like to learn about each person. Discuss what you have learned and want to learn as a class.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.
5. Video Valentine's Day
Photos and videos are a popular way to share special occasions with others. It will be especially true next week, when people celebrate Valentine’s Day. Valentine's Day is a day on which people express love, friendship and caring to others. In the newspaper or online, find and study photos and videos that show people doing this. Use what you find to make a list of ways the photos and videos show the emotions of love, friendship and caring. Then challenge yourself to think like a photographer or video maker. Brainstorm an idea for a photo or video you could make to show love, friendship or caring to someone you know. Write a paragraph explaining what you would show in your photo or video to express these emotions. Draw a sketch to show what your photo/video might look like.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.