For Grades 5-8 , week of Mar. 07, 2022

1. Help for Refugees

With the war in Ukraine continuing, huge numbers of Ukrainians are fleeing to escape the Russian troops who have invaded the European nation. More than 1-million refugees have fled to the neighboring nations of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova as well as to Austria and Germany farther west. Hundreds of thousands more are fleeing every day. Officials from the United Nations say the wave of refugees could be the largest since World War II more than 75 years ago. “The humanitarian consequences on civilian populations will be devastating,” the United Nations Refugee Agency said. “There are no winners in war, but countless lives will be torn apart.” People all over the world are looking for ways to support Ukrainian refugees and the citizens still in the country. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about organizations such as the Ukrainian Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee and the United Nations World Food Programme. As a class, brainstorm ways your school or the community could raise funds to support one of these programs. Write an editorial outlining how the program offers help and why people should support it.

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.

2. NFL Drops Virus Rules

To prevent the spread of the Covid 19 coronavirus and its variants, American professional sports leagues adopted a variety of rules and protocols to keep players, coaches, fans and staff safe. The rules established guidelines for wearing masks, getting tested and getting vaccinated, and most players and coaches complied. Now, with coronavirus cases and hospitalizations declining, the National Football League has become the first pro league to drop its coronavirus protocols. The league and the NFL Players Association have agreed that players, coaches and staff members will no longer be required to wear masks inside facilities, practice social distancing or restrict access within team buildings based on vaccination status, the New York Times reported. Teams are expected to provide on-site testing for anyone who reports coronavirus symptoms, but there will be no mandatory testing. Those who test positive will be required to isolate for five days. As cases and hospitalizations decline, states and cities are loosening rules regarding the coronavirus epidemic. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the latest statistics on cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Then research what the statistics were a year ago and two years ago. Use what you read to create a chart or graph comparing statistics from the different years. Write a paragraph summarizing what the statistics show.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.

3. Deluxe Disney

When the Disney company opened the theme park “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” at Disneyland and Disneyworld, it thrilled fans of the futuristic adventure movies. Now Disney has gone even further in the thrills department by opening a hotel attraction that makes guests part of the storytelling. “Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser,” which opened at Disneyworld in Florida last week, is part hotel, part theater, part theme park ride, part digital scavenger hunt and part role-playing game, the New York Times newspaper reports. Guests don’t book rooms to stay in but sign up for a two-day “journey” that will take them to a distant “planet.” There are no windows in rooms, but video screens that show stars, planets and asteroid showers when guests look “outside.” Guests get to undergo light-saber training, be part of a light-saber battle with Stormtroopers and even meet old Star Wars favorites like Chewbacca and Yoda. None of it comes cheap: A two-day stay on the “Galactic Starcruiser” runs about $6,000 for a family of four. But that hasn’t stopped true “Star Wars” fans. “Galactic Starcruiser” had its grand opening last week, and March, April and most of June are already sold out. From “Star Wars” to “Harry Potter,” theme parks based on favorite movies are popular all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about a movie theme park you would like to visit. Use what you read to write a travel column detailing what appeals to you about this park and why families would enjoy 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. No Social Media

Kids love social media, but some parents worry that too much screen time can slow the development of other social and personal skills. To promote those non-screen skills, a mother in the state of Minnesota made a deal with her son when he was 12 years old. If he stayed off social media until he was 18, Lorna Klefsaas said she would pay him $1,800. To her surprise, her son Sivert agreed to the “18 for 18” deal, thinking he’d “never have to work.” As he got older, Sivert realized that $1,800 wasn’t as much money as he originally thought it was. But he stuck to the deal all through middle school and high school. Six years later, when he turned 18 last month, he collected his money and promptly put it in the bank. At times it was hard for Sivert, particularly when schools were closed during the coronavirus epidemic. But he says he developed better personal relationships, the Washington Post newspaper reported. And he succeeded in school and sports (he played varsity basketball and football). He plans to use the money to buy things for his dorm room when he goes off to college next fall at the University of Northwestern at St. Paul, where he will play football. When he agreed to stay off social media, Sivert Klefsaas had to develop other personal interests offline. In the newspaper or online, study stories and ads for activities you would recommend to a person giving up social media. Write a sentence or two for each detailing how it would be interesting or fun.

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.

5. ‘Once in a Lifetime’

Mosaics are pictures made of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or tile on walls, floors, buildings and even ceilings. They were particularly popular during the ancient Roman empire, and a “once in a lifetime find” in the European city of London, England has revealed how impressive they could be. Archaeologists excavating a construction site in South London have discovered a colorful Roman-era mosaic floor thought to be at least 1,800 years old that is the “largest area of decorated mosaic discovered in London in the past 50 years.” The double paneled floor contains images of flowers, ropes and diamonds and is believed to have been part of the dining room of a wealthy person’s mansion. It dates back to when the Romans ruled over England from the mid-1st to the early 5th century C.E., and their capital was a city called Londinium located where modern London is now. Archaeologists often uncover things that shed light on how people lived and worked in ancient times. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such a discovery. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend or classmate, telling what was discovered, how it was discovered and why it is important.

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.