Resources for Teachers and Students

For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 05, 2020

1. Minority Arts Support

For nearly 85 years, the non-profit Ford Foundation has supported the arts and efforts to advance human achievement, strengthen democratic values and reduce poverty and injustice. This year, as the Black Lives Matter movement has raised awareness about injustice and discrimination, the Foundation is taking a dramatic step to address these issues. The Foundation has announced it will partner with other philanthropic organizations and individuals to make an unprecedented $160-million in grants to support minority arts groups. The grants will be delivered through a program called America’s Cultural Treasures to support groups promoting the art and culture of Black and Indigenous people and other people of color. The Ford Foundation grants will give each cultural group $1-million to $5-million for programming and other needs. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about cultural groups in your community or state. Pick one and imagine what it could do with a grant of $1-million to $5-million. Write a paragraph explaining how a grant would help the organization and the community.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

2. ‘South Park’ Fans

“South Park” has been one of the most popular shows on the Comedy Central cable channel for more than 23 years. Now the program set in the state of Colorado has extended its popularity to the National Football League. At the Denver Broncos home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 27 more than 1,800 cutouts of South Park characters like Cartman, Stan, Kenny and Kyle filled five sections of the stands at Empower Field at Mile High in the Colorado city of Denver. Comedy Central and South Park Studios paid $100 each for the 1,800 cutouts, with proceeds going to local charities. Like many NFL teams the Broncos are limiting the number of fans who can attend games live, but are selling the chance for fans to have their picture in seats at the stadium. “South Park” fans went wild when photos and videos of the show’s fan section were posted to the Internet, searching to see which characters were included. The Broncos were happy, too, since the “South Park” purchase helped boost the charity fund-raising to more than $130,000. “South Park” purchased the cutouts at the Denver Broncos just before its first show of the season aired on Comedy Central. What other unusual ways could TV shows market new shows or programming? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a TV show that interests you. Think creatively and write a proposal for marketing this show in an unusual way.

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.

3. Fighting Food Waste

Food waste is a huge problem in the world, especially with so many people going hungry in the United States and other nations. Now nearly 200 of the world’s biggest food suppliers have teamed up in an effort to cut food waste in half in their operations. The suppliers include big name companies like Walmart, Kroger and the parent of Giant Foods, as well as farmers and firms that distribute food to supermarkets. They will work to reduce waste from food that spoils before it can be eaten and find ways to teach families how to reduce waste in the food they buy, the Washington Post newspaper reports. Studies have shown that about 80 percent of food waste happens in homes and in businesses that serve customers directly such as grocery stores and restaurants. “Food waste has always been a pain point,” said a spokesperson for one food supply company. Food waste is a big problem for restaurants and grocery stores. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the kinds of waste these businesses experience. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor outlining how these businesses could reduce food waste and benefit the community. Be sure to address things that would be needed to get the food to people who need it.

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.

4. Instagram Record

For more than 50 years, Sir David Attenborough has been one of the most popular figures on television for his specials on wildlife, plant life and the environment. This year he decided to take his environmental messages to Instagram — and instantly became a hit. Attenborough, who is now 94, broke Instagram’s record for attracting 1-million followers in the fastest time. Attenborough reached the million mark in less than five hours, besting the old record by actress Jennifer Aniston by 32 minutes. Because 70 percent of Instagram’s users are younger than 35 worldwide — and more than a third are younger than 25 — Attenborough said his record had given him “important hope” for the future. He’s a strong believer that young people will be the ones to fight global warming and save the environment. “It’s their world, and it’s their tomorrow,” he said. “I won’t be there.” Sir David Attenborough has spent his career calling attention to environmental problems through movies and TV specials. With friends or classmates, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about an environmental problem in your community, your state or the nation. Brainstorm an idea for a movie or TV special calling attention to this problem. Write an outline for your movie and give it a title that would make people want to watch it. Choose a celebrity to narrate your movie who would appeal to students your age. Explain your choice for narrator.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Tattoo Man

Tattoos are seen by many people as a way to express themselves through body art. But when do tattoos go too far on the job? A man in the European nation of France lost his job as a kindergarten teacher when he covered his face and tongue with tattoos — and had the whites of his eyes turned black by surgery. Thirty-five-year-old Sylvain Helaine was removed from kindergarten classes by his school after a parent complained his appearance frightened their child, CNN News reports. He still will be allowed to teach other elementary grades, but not students younger than 6 years old. Helaine, who says “getting tattoos is my passion,” said he hoped his tattoos would help students to be “more open-minded” about people who are different from the norm. The school said the decision to move Helaine from kindergarten was made because it believed students younger than 6 “could be frightened by his appearance.” Tattoos are one of many ways people express themselves and their personalities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people expressing themselves through art, actions or other activities. Pick one and write a paragraph explaining how you think this person’s actions express his or her personality. Write a second paragraph outlining an unusual way you could express your personality — and what it would say about you.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; 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.