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For Grades 5-8 , week of Aug. 16, 2021

1. Summit for Democracy

From the time the United States was founded in 1776, the nation has been a model of democratic government for countries around the world. This winter President Biden plans to continue that tradition by hosting a Summit for Democracy December 9 and 10. The virtual summit of world leaders will focus on three keys to success for democratic governments: promoting respect for human rights, defending against authoritarianism and fighting corruption. As a candidate for president, Biden stressed that the United States continues to have an important role promoting democracy in the world and defending the right of people to vote and elect their own leaders. Invitations to the summit will go to both established democracies and “emerging” ones, according to the White House. The word “democracy” has its origins in the Greek language, combining the word “demos” meaning “citizens” and “kratos” meaning “power to rule.” In democracies people demonstrate their “power to rule” by voting in elections and choosing their leaders. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people voting to choose leaders in different countries around the world. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing which nations have had smooth elections and which have not. Detail the keys to success for smooth elections and examine problems that prevented some elections from going smoothly.

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.

2. Military Vaccinations

As the world battles to control the coronavirsus epidemic, one of the biggest decisions for employers is whether to require employees to be vaccinated. The world’s largest employer — the U.S. military — is taking a major step in that direction with a move to require all of its 1.3-million active-duty personnel to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus and its variants. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is seeking approval from President Biden to require that all service members get a coronavirus vaccine by mid-September, the Washington Post newspaper reports. The military could make that move even earlier if a vaccine receives final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before then, according to a memo released by the Pentagon. “Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 is a key force protection and readiness issue,” said General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which advises the President on military matters. Requiring people to be vaccinated continues to be a hot topic among businesses and governments across the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how businesses, governments and other institutions are handling the issue — and what resistance they are facing. Use what you read to write an editorial supporting required vaccinations — or opposing them. Whatever position you take, use evidence from what you read to support your arguments.

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.

3. ‘Dream’ Game

In the famous sports movie “Field of Dreams” a farmer built a baseball diamond in a cornfield and “ghost” stars from the past came to play on it. Last week, in the spirit of the movie, the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox played a real game on a ballfield next to a cornfield in the state of Iowa. And players even got to walk through the corn to get to the field! Major League Baseball staged the game to re-create the action scenes from the movie, and to stress the history and traditions of baseball in America. There were modern conveniences, of course, like air-conditioned clubhouses and stands for 8,000 lucky fans who got to see the game in person on a field next to the one used in the movie. No seats were located beyond the outfield, where nothing but rows of corn could be seen. The New York Times reported it took a lot of planning by a local entertainment company to get the details right: “The perfect field, the corn at the perfect height, the time of the game with the sun in the right direction setting down, the lighting working exactly as planned — and then bringing 8,000 people plus staff onto a site that doesn’t typically have anything but a tractor rolling through.” The White Sox won the special game 9-8 in a contest in which seven players hit home runs into the corn. At all levels, sports events can be special in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a special sports event that has taken place or is coming up. Use what you read to brainstorm ideas for three 30-second TV ads promoting the event. List images you would use for each ad and write the text. Read your text aloud, to make sure it doesn’t go over 30 seconds for any of your ads. Share with family and friends.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Indigenous Milestone

Like the United States, the nation of Canada to the north has a Native American population with a history going back thousands of years. Also like the United States, that history has often been ignored in the past and the contributions of indigenous people have been overlooked. Now Canada has taken a historic step that will bring new attention to the nation’s indigenous and native peoples. For the first time, it has appointed an indigenous leader to be Canada’s governor general. Mary Simon, a longtime advocate for indigenous rights was named to the post this summer and will serve as the commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces and as the official representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada. Canada has a representative of the British queen because Canada is a member of the British Commonwealth and a former British colony. While Simon has spent her life advancing social, economic, and human rights issues for Canadian Inuit and Indigenous peoples, she said “I can relate to all people no matter where they live, what they hope for or what they need to overcome,” CNN News reported. The appointment of Mary Simon was a breakthrough for an ethnic minority group. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another breakthrough for a minority group. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing why this breakthrough is important for the minority group and why it is important for society as a whole.

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

5. Labor of Love

Brothers and sisters often quarrel, but they also can love each other a lot. In the nation of the Philippines in Southeast Asia, a brother performed an incredible labor of love so that his younger sister could step out in style at a prom marking her last year in junior high school.

Maverick Francisco Oyao hand crafted an elaborate ball gown for his sister, Lu Asey Keanna Oyao, and made her look like a princess in a Disney movie. Maverick decided to make a special gown when he learned his family could not afford to rent a gown for his sister at the prom, the website My Modern Met reports. With inspiration from the Internet, Maverick sketched out a design for an elaborate blue and white gown and then got to work making it. The gown has a broad, billowing skirt, a tight corset-style top, wing-like sleeves and even a crown. Maverick hand-stitched white ribbon in a criss-cross pattern, white plastic flowers, and crystal beads on the skirt. When he posted it on Facebook, it went viral among viewers impressed with Maverick’s skill and “brotherly love.” To see Maverick’s incredible creation, click here. Siblings often do incredible things to show their love or help each other. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a brother or sister doing something special for a sibling. Then think like a news reporter and interview friends or classmates about special things they have done for siblings or special things they have had done for them. Take notes about what people say and organize their experiences by interest or category. Choose what you want to use for the opening paragraphs of your story. Write these paragraphs and then write the rest of the story.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.