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For Grades 5-8 , week of Dec. 12, 2011

1. Tea Party Invitation

Protesting big business and the government, as the Occupy Wall Street movement has done, isn’t anything new. Members of the Sons of Liberty were furious about the tax breaks given to the East India Company to create a monopoly on the tea trade 238 years ago. The American colonists then raided three British ships in Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773, and dumped 342 chests full of tea in what became known as the Boston Tea Party. The British then closed the harbor to merchant shipping, established British rule and made British officials immune from prosecution in the colonies. This revolt eventually led to the creation of the Continental Congress and the creation of our country. Find a newspaper article about people protesting the government in the U.S. or another country. Write an opinion piece detailing whether you support the protest.

Core/National Standards: Writing arguments to support claims with reasons and relevant evidence.

2. Other Peoples' Lives

Margaret Mead was a famous anthropologist (AN-throw-POL-o-jist). She was born on December 16, 1901. An anthropologist is a person who studies groups of people and their cultures. Imagine you are an anthropologist from another country and have never heard of America before. Use the newspaper to find out about Americans. Based on what you find in the newspaper, answer the following questions: A. What languages do Americans speak? B. What do Americans look like? C. What are some things Americans like to do? D. What do Americans think is funny? E. Are the answers you give using the newspaper different from those you would give on your own? F. If so, why do you think that is?

Core/National Standard: Locating and describing diverse kinds of communities and explaining the reasons for their characteristics and locations.

3. Educational Discrimination

A 13-year-old boy, who makes good grades and is motivated to learn, applied to a private boarding school in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He was denied admission not because of test scores or other academic reasons. The school refused to admit him because he is HIV positive. According to ABC News, the AIDS Law Project filed a lawsuit against the Milton Hershey School, claiming the school violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which includes HIV in its scope. “This young man is a motivated, intelligent kid who poses no health risk to other students, but is being denied an educational opportunity because of ignorance and fear about HIV and AIDS,” said Ronda Goldfein, the boy’s lawyer. A spokesperson from the school told that it had to balance the needs of all the students when making admissions decisions. Find a newspaper story about people facing discrimination. Or find one online. Write an essay on the cause of the discrimination and your answer to stopping it.

Core/National Standard: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts and information.

4. A Helping Hand

The holidays came early for five charities that assist military veterans. They were chosen by three lottery winners to receive $200,000 each. The winners, who are money managers in the state of Connecticut, chose the winning numbers for a $254 million jackpot. Afterwards, Greg Skidmore, Brandon Lacoff and Tim Davidson said they felt it was important to give back to people who are willing to serve their country. The organizations receiving the money are The Bob Woodruff Foundation, Building Homes for Heroes, Services for the Under Served, Operation First Response, and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. According to ABC News, Peggy Baker, president of Operation First Response, called it “a Christmas miracle.” Find a newspaper story about people making a difference in the lives of others. Discuss as a class how kids can make a difference to others, and come up with an idea for a community service project for the new year.

Core/National Standards: Building on others’ talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others.

5. A Great Discovery

If you ever wondered if a teenager could make a difference in the world, you need not look any further than Angela Zhang. The 17-year-old from Cupertino, California, recently won a $100,000 scholarship for scientific research in which she created a tiny particle that can precisely target cancer tumors. Zhang said this research was personal for her. Her great-grandfather had liver cancer and her grandfather died of lung cancer. This particle won’t affect healthy cells around the tumor, as standard chemotherapy can. Find a newspaper story about scientific research. Discuss as a class the importance of the scientific process.

Core/National Standard: Showing an understanding of scientific concepts and an appreciation of “how we know” what we know in science.