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For Grades 5-8 , week of July 18, 2022

1. All-Star Game

In every sport, All-Star games give leagues and teams a chance to show off their best players. On Tuesday night, Major League Baseball will hold its 92nd All-Star game at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, and all the brightest stars will be there. The American League will be led by sluggers Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays. The National League will be led by Paul Goldschmidt of the St. Louis Cardinals, Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres and Willson Contreras of the Chicago Cubs. Since the All-Star game began in 1933, the American League has won 46 times and the National League 43, with two games ending in ties. The league that wins the All-Star Game gets home field advantage in the World Series in the fall (hosting four games). Tuesday’s All-Star game will feature players who have been All-Stars before and players making their first appearance. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about each kind of player. Use what you read to write a sports column comparing how their experiences are similar or different and how they feel about being All-Stars.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. Plastics Ban in Asia

With nearly 1.4-billion people, the Asian nation of India has the second largest population of any country on Earth. All those people use a tremendous amount of plastic — for bottles, straws, eating utensils, food containers and more. Because India doesn’t have a good system for collection and recycling plastics, many of those items end up polluting streets, waterways, parks and other public spaces. To combat plastics pollution, India now has banned “single-use” plastic items that make up a large part of the 14-million tons of plastic the nation uses each year. In addition to straws, bottles and eating utensils, India’s ban on single-use plastics includes ear buds, packaging films, plastic sticks for balloons, candy and ice-cream and cigarette packets, Reuters News reported. For now, the use of plastic shopping bags will still be allowed. India is the world’s third-largest producer of plastic waste, trailing only the United States and China. Many communities and nations are looking for ways to reduce plastics pollution and the use of plastics. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different efforts. Use what you read to write a short editorial commenting on approaches you think would be the most effective.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Name Change

All over the country, communities are renaming landmarks, buildings and businesses to reflect modern attitudes on everything from ethnic groups, to race relations, to the history of slavery and the Civil War. In the New England state of Vermont, a popular ski resort has announced it is changing its name for a very different reason. The resort founded as the Suicide Six said it is changing its name because the original one is “insensitive” to the pain suicides have caused families and the struggles people with mental health issues have experienced when grappling with the issue. “Our resort team embraces the increasing awareness surrounding mental health and shares the growing concerns about the insensitive nature of the historical name,” the resort said on its website. “The feelings that the word ‘suicide’ evokes can have a significant impact on many in our community.” The original name was given to the resort because of the difficulty of its slopes. The new name of the resort — Saskadena Six — honors the Abenaki native people who were the original inhabitants of the area. “Saskadena” means “standing mountain” in the Abenaki language. Schools and communities are paying more and more attention to the mental and emotional health needs of students, adults and families. Many programs now provide support for those who need it. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about such programs. Write a letter to the editor calling attention to one program, what it does and why it is important to the community.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.

4. Vampire Killer Kit

In movies, books and other horror stories, vampires are portrayed as superhuman creatures who need to feed on human blood to survive. In folklore they were believed to rise from the dead and suck the life out of the living. Scientists have long held that vampires didn’t really exist, but people in many cultures still believed in them. In the European nation of England, in fact, a British aristocrat who lived in the late 1800s once owned a vampire slaying kit that could be used for protection. The kit, owned by Lord William Malcolm Hailey, came up for auction this summer and drew considerable interest, selling for nearly $16,000. The kit included all the tools that were believed to be needed to kill a vampire — religious crucifixes, holy water, a wooden stake and mallet, rosary beads, a Gothic Bible, brass candlesticks, matching pistols and a brass powder flask, CNN News reported. “It reminds us that the vampire myth affects people from all walks of life,” said the owner of the auction house. Many cultures in the world have beliefs that seem unusual to Americans. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a belief from another culture that Americans would find unusual or odd. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend explaining this belief and why people believe in it.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

5. So Young and So Smart

The Mensa organization is sometimes referred to as “the genius group,” because its members have to score higher than 98 percent of people who take an IQ intelligence test. In the state of Kentucky, a 2-year-old girl has qualified and become the youngest Mensa member in the United States. Isla McNabb, who lives with her parents in the city of Crestwood, started showing exceptional ability just after her second birthday when she began spelling out words with blocks in front of objects around the house. At 2 ½ she was given an IQ test, and she stunned the experts by scoring in the 99th percentile, the highest IQ ranking a person can get. Since then she has expanded her vocabulary to more than 500 words, started counting forward and backward, performed math operations like addition and subtraction and even started writing basic words, her parents Amanda and Jason McNabb told the Washington Post. Though her IQ is off the charts, Isla still enjoys “normal kid stuff,” her mom says. She loves cartoons, pre-school, doing jigsaw puzzles and playing outside, and of course she loves going to the library. Children often make news by having special skills or talents. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a special child like this. Pretend you are a TV news reporter and prepare a two-minute report on this child and his/her abilities. Pick images to use in your report from the newspaper or Internet. Read your report aloud and time it to make sure it doesn’t go over two minutes. Present your report to family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.