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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of May 18, 2020

1. Cruising Into Space

To many of his fans, Tom Cruise is just out of this world as an actor and movie star. Soon he may be out of this world in real life as well. America’s NASA space agency has confirmed that it is working with the Hollywood star to make a movie aboard the International Space Station orbiting 200 miles above the Earth. To make the movie, Cruise would travel by spacecraft to the space station and stay for an extended period of time, CNN News reported. He would be the first actor to travel into space. The film will be an action adventure described as “the first narrative feature film … to be shot in outer space.” Filming an action adventure film with Tom Cruise would be a milestone for the International Space Station. It also would pose many challenges for the filmmakers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about filmmaking and life on board the space station. Then pretend you are an adviser to the filmmakers. Write a paragraph or “briefing paper” outlining challenges the filmmakers would face making a movie in space.

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.

2. Quick Weapons Ban

After a Canadian man went on a shooting rampage and killed 22 people, Canada’s government wasted no time responding to the country’s most deadly mass shooting ever. The government announced an immediate ban on some 1,500 makes and models of “military-grade” assault weapons, including two used by the gunman. The measures ban the purchase, sale, transport and use of the weapons. “There is no use — and no place — for such weapons in Canada,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in making the announcement. “You don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer.” Banning high-powered assault weapons is a hotly debated issue in the United States and around the world. The U.S. once had a law banning such weapons, but Congress did not renew it when it expired in 2004. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts to ban high-powered assault weapons. Use what you read to write an editorial giving your view on whether such a ban should be passed or not. Support your opinions with evidence from your reading.

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.

3. World Series Canceled

For the first time ever, baseball’s Little League World Series will not be held this summer. The Little League International group, which runs the World Series, announced that the popular tournament has been canceled due to health concerns connected to the coronavirus epidemic. The tournament will resume in 2021. The Little League World Series has been played each year since the first tournament in 1947. Little League officials said it was “a heartbreaking decision” to cancel the World Series, but “because of the significant public health uncertainty … it will not be possible to proceed” as it has for nearly 75 years. Many popular sports events have been canceled due to the coronavirus emergency. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one such cancellation. Use what you read to write a sports column telling what fans will miss most due to the cancellation.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

4. Split Decision

All over America, communities have struggled over how to reopen for business after being shut down due to the coronavirus emergency. One community is having a tougher struggle than most. The town of Bristol straddles the border between the states of Tennessee and Virginia, and the two states have different rules and schedules for reopening. Tennessee started re-opening restaurants and other businesses on April 27. Virginia scheduled its reopening for May 15. There has been much debate over when states may safely reopen for business and other activities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about arguments for and against opening, and when. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor giving your view on the reopening plans of your state.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Blue Dragons

The dragons are coming, the dragons are coming! Not big fire-breathing ones; little blue ones with a fiery sting. The blue dragons in question are actually rare sea slugs, and this month they’ve been washing up on beaches at the Padre Island National Seashore in the state of Texas. Though they can be found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, blue dragons are rare in Texas waters, wildlife officials say. And while they are just over an inch wide, they pack a powerful punch that can sting badly. They get their sting from eating the tentacles of Portuguese man o' war jellyfish, which have a powerful punch of their own. The Blue dragons store the stinging cells and can administer them to humans, prey or other creatures. “Keep your distance!” the National Seashore warns. Environmentalists and wildlife experts are always alert to unusual behaviors of wild species and want to know why they occur. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about an unusual wildlife behavior. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend describing the behavior and why scientists think it occurred.

Common Core State Standards: Citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.