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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 07, 2019

1. Year of the Woman

The 2018 election was widely called “the year of the woman,” because of the gains women made getting elected to office. A record 102 women were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and California’s Nancy Pelosi will make history with a return to the position of Speaker of the House. In the state of Nevada, voters elected a woman, Jacky Rosen, to the U.S. Senate, and made even more history in the state legislature. For the first time in the state’s history, a majority of the members of the Nevada legislature will be women. Women will hold 23 seats in the State Assembly and nine in the State Senate, for a total of 32 of 63 seats overall, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Women will play a greater role in national, state and local politics this year than in the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about women elected to office. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing how having more women in government could change the way lawmakers approach issues. Share and discuss as a class.

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; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

2. Saving History

The partial shutdown of the federal government caused problems all over the country. And it caused a major one in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when it was learned that the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall would be closed on Christmas week. That is the second most popular time of the year for people to visit these historic sites (after the Fourth of July). And local leaders feared thousands of people would be left disappointed if they arrived and couldn’t get in. That’s when the local tourist agency Visit Philly stepped up. Its leaders contacted Independence National Historical Park and asked what it would cost to keep the Bell and Hall open for Christmas week. After some quick calculations, park leaders said $32,000 would cover staff salaries, utilities and other costs for the week. Visit Philly said that was money well spent to showcase the two most popular sites in the city. A similar arrangement was made by New York State to keep the Statue of Liberty open. The government shutdown that began December 22 has had wide effects all over the country. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ways the shutdown has affected the nation. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling what you think is the most important or serious thing that has happened as a result of the shutdown.

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. Manmade Islands

Human actions often can damage the environment. They also can help the environment. And sometimes, they can repair damage that other human actions caused. That has happened in the European nation of the Netherlands, where government and a leading conservation group have teamed up to bring a lake back to life. The ecosystem of the Markermeer lake had been badly damaged in 1976 when the government built a dam that caused sediment to build up, fish to die and wildlife to leave. Now the lake is being brought to life by the construction of a series of man-made islands that are collecting sediment, helping clean the water and attracting birds and wildlife. In less than a year, they have become home to more than 100 species of plants, including shore plants that filter and clean water and provide habitats for fish and birds. The $89-million project also has become a tourist attraction for people who want to see this innovative effort in action. There are many ways to improve or help the environment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effort that has been successful. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short documentary film telling how the effort became successful. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Choose a celebrity to narrate your film, if you like. Explain your choice of narrator.

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

4. A Friend to Kids

There’s an old saying that you can never judge a book by its cover. The same can be said for people, who sometimes are far different than they appear. Alan Naiman came across as an extremely thrifty person who never liked to spend the money he earned as a social worker. When he died in January in Seattle, Washington, people discovered that he was a millionaire — and that he had left more than $11-million to charities. Naiman, who was 63 at the time of his death from cancer, never had children of his own, but children’s agencies benefited greatly from his bequest. He left his money to foster care agencies, groups that help vulnerable children, agencies that provide medical care and groups like the Make A Wish Foundation that grant wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses. One group was even able to pay off the mortgage on its building, CNN news reported. A friend who helped plan his giving said he wanted to have that kind of impact, noting that he had said “My gift is going to be bigger than their annual budget, [and] it’s going to blow them away.” You don’t have to be a millionaire to help children in need. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about children who could use help of some kind. Use what you read to write a proposal for helping these children. State what you think is needed to provide the most help, and where money would come from if needed.

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.

5. High-Flying Dad

Being with family is an important part of the winter holiday season. But sometimes people have to work. That was the case for flight attendant Pierce T. Vaughan, who told her family she wouldn’t be home for Christmas because she had been scheduled to work for Delta Air Lines. Her dad, Hal Vaughan, didn’t let that stand in the way of a holiday get-together. He bought tickets on all six Delta flights his daughter was working over Christmas so they could spend the holiday together. Dad had to fly standby for some of the flights, but it all worked out in the end. Hal Vaughan got to fly every flight with his daughter over two days, and on one even got upgraded to first class! That, his daughter said, was “a Christmas miracle!” Parents show love for their children in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a parent showing love to his or her child. Pretend you are that child and write a thank you letter to the parent, telling why his/her action was important or meaningful to you.

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