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For Grades 5-8 , week of Apr 02, 2012

1. Giving the Hair Off Their Heads

There are a lot of bald people running around Shelby Township in Michigan these days. In fact, more than 400 people in the small hamlet in western Michigan shaved their heads for charity. Eighth-grader Stephanie Humphries was one of 25 brave women who lined up to donate their long locks to make wigs for children who have cancer. It was part of a fund-raising event for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, whose goal was to collect hair for wigs and raise $300,000 for childhood cancer research. Stephanie said she won’t mind going to school bald, because “They need it more than I do. It’ll always grow back.” Search your newspaper for a non-profit organization that helps children with cancer or another problem. Or find an organization online. As a class, discuss what your school could do to help one organization.

Core/National Standards: Posing questions that elicit elaboration and responding to others’ questions and comments.

2. News Poem

April is National Poetry Month. Sometimes poets use current events as the basis for their writing. Read an article in today's newspaper that you find interesting. Write a poem that tells the story of the events. Your poem doesn't have to rhyme, but use colorful language that expresses feelings and emotions. See if you can include your opinion about the events by the descriptive words you choose.

Core/National Standard: Focusing on meaning and communication while listening, speaking, viewing, reading and writing in personal, social, occupational and civic contexts.

3. Signs of Talent

Deanne Bray achieved television stardom in 2002 playing an FBI agent. It wasn’t just any agent, however. She portrayed a deaf FBI agent who was based on a real-life undercover agent who used lip-reading skills to solve crimes. Now the “Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye” star is sharing her acting skills, training and experience with the children of Sequoia School for the Deaf in Mesa, Arizona. The deaf actress teaches a drama class in hopes of nurturing acting skills, instilling self-confidence and promoting pride for deaf children. The students have performed several times around the state, including an event at the state capitol. Bray said the class also is helping the students improve their American Sign Language skills. Many of them came to school with no signing skills because ASL wasn’t used in their homes. In groups or as a class, find a newspaper story about kids who are deaf or hard of hearing. Or find a story online. As a class, write a play that could be performed with those children.

Core/National Standard: Using narrative techniques such as dialogue, pacing and description to develop experiences, events and/or characters.

4. Be an Inventor

George Farquhar once said necessity was the mother of invention. So when people wanted a better way to get around than a horse, they invented the automobile. Simple inventions that build on the ideas of others can make a difference in the lives of people, and they can make you money. CNBC recently highlighted a number of ideas that have turned into millions for their inventors. One example is the Clocky, a moving alarm clock that forces people out of bed so they don’t keep hitting the snooze button. The Knorck came about when Mike Miller got tired of trying to cut his slice of pizza with a fork and decided to design of knife/fork combination with a beveled edge. Find an example of a product in the ads or stories of the newspaper. With the newspaper and Internet, do some research about the product. Then come up with an idea that improves the product and draw a model of your improvement.

Core/National Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic. using illustrations and details to describe key ideas.

5. Kitschy Conflagration

A snow globe is about as innocuous an item as there is. It’s a glass ball on a stand, and when you shake it fake snow falls on a kitschy scene inside. Snow globes aren’t so innocuous when left on a shelf in the sun, however. Ken Gambell learned this lesson the hard way. He got a phone call informing him that his house was on fire, and the fire department said the unlikely cause was a snow globe. An intense beam of light shining through the snow globe caused his sofa to catch on fire. Find a newspaper article on fire safety, or an article about a fire in your community. Use what you learn to write a fire safety plan for your family, or for the family affected by a fire.

Core/National Standard: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience.