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For Grades 5-8 , week of Mar. 27, 2023

1. Taylor’s Super

Isabella McCune is a super fan of Taylor Swift, so she was hugely disappointed when she missed the singer’s 2018 “Reputation” tour after she was burned badly in an accident involving a bonfire. Isabella, who was 8 at the time, was burned over 65 percent of her body and couldn’t attend the concert of her favorite singer. When Swift heard of her situation, she visited Isabella in the hospital in Phoenix, Arizona and promised her that she would be invited to a concert on Swift’s next tour. Five years later, Swift made good on her promise, sending Isabella four tickets for her highly anticipated “Eras Tour,” ABC-TV reported. Isabella, who is now 13, got to attend the second night of the tour in Glendale, Arizona with her dad, her brother and her mom. When she got the news about Swift’s gift, “I immediately just started crying,” she said. “She remembered me, her team remembered me. The most crazy part was that she actually remembers.” Celebrities often do nice things for their fans. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one celebrity doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, detailing how this gesture improved the celebrity’s image or reputation.

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.

2. Emergency Shortage

Being a doctor in a hospital emergency room is one of the most exciting and demanding jobs in medicine. On any night, anything can happen — from kids breaking bones to auto accidents to other forms of violence. Working in an “ER” was once a popular choice for young doctors. But not any more. The strains of the coronavirus epidemic and rising gun violence nationwide have drawn fewer and fewer doctors to emergency medicine. The latest evidence came this month during “Match Week,” when graduating medical students are assigned to the hospitals that will train them. More than 550 emergency medical positions were unfilled because med students had chosen other fields, the Washington Post newspaper reports. That was more than double the 219 unfilled positions during Match Week last year. According to Match Program statistics, applicants for emergency medicine training plunged 26 percent from 3,734 in 2021 to 2,765 this year. Instead of choosing emergency work, med students are choosing specialties in fields that offer greater income and job security and less stress and burnout. “They are voting with their feet,” one hospital administrator said. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals provide essential services for communities they serve. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a doctor or doctors who are doing this in your community or state. Think like a reporter and write out five questions you would like to ask one of these doctors about what they do, how it affects others and how it affects them personally. Give a reason for asking each question.

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. A Win for the Reef

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia is one of the world’s great ocean habitats. It supports 1,500 species of fish, 400 types of hard coral and one-third of the world’s soft coral. The colorful coral reef attracts millions of visitors who want to dive under water and see marine life up close each year. Because the reef is so beautiful and important to Australia’s environment, the South Pacific nation takes great steps to protect it. This winter, the Australian government said NO to a proposal for a coal mine on land near the Great Barrier Reef for fear it would cause “irreversible damage.” The mining project would have been located just six miles from the reef on the coast of Queensland in Australia’s northeast corner, CNN News reported. Government officials said the project would pose an unacceptable risk of pollution for fresh water that drains into the ocean over the reef. "The risk of pollution and irreversible damage to the reef is very real,” Australia’s minister for the environment said. The government has been under pressure from the international United Nations organization to improve protection of the 1,429-mile reef, and in 2022, it pledged to spend $700 million to boost the reef’s ecosystem. Government leaders often have to make choices between protecting the environment and approving business plans and proposals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one government decision like this that has been made. Use what you read to write an editorial analyzing the decision and whether you think it was the right one.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. What a Goal!

It’s extremely difficult to score in soccer, which is why many games end up with just one or two goals. In a game in South America this month, a player for a team from the nation of Argentina took difficulty to a whole new level. Argentine goaltender Leandro Requena scored from an amazing 101 meters (110 yards) from the opposing goal. Requena scored the unusual goal when making a routine return kick from in front of his net. Using the style of NFL placekickers, Requena got a huge amount of leg into the kick, and it traveled three-quarters off the length of the field (click here). Then when it hit the ground it bounced over the head of the opposing goalkeeper, Brayan Cortés, who was playing well outside his penalty area, TNT sports reported. To make matters worse, Cortés stumbled as he tried to catch up to the ball as it crossed the line. Requena’s amazing goal appears to have set a new world record, topping the previous record of 96 meters by 5 meters. Argentina won the game 3-1. Athletes often make news by doing unusual or amazing things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an achievement like this in sports. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a movie telling what might happen to athlete after performing this unusual feat. Your movie can be serious or comical. Pretend the unusual event is the first scene. Then write what would happen next in the second scene. Finish by writing an outline for the rest of your movie.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. Spring Haikus

Spring officially arrived last week, and people are looking forward to getting outside and enjoying warmer weather. In Washington, DC, a newspaper columnist looks forward to something else when spring arrives — haiku poems. Every spring, columnist John Kelly of the Washington Post newspaper challenges readers to send in haikus they have written about spring, and he picks the best to print in his column. Not surprisingly, nature plays a big part in the spring haikus (HY-koos), which feature just five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third. The poems pack a lot into just a few words with lines like “Cherry tree blossoms / Falling on new spring green grass / Nature’s confetti.” Or “The days are longer / Sunlight bends in a new way / I exhale slowly.” Sometimes the haikus connect nature to news events in the world: “Spring floats in softly / Like a Chinese spy balloon / Under the radar.” In the newspaper or online, find and study photos showing signs of spring. Or look for spring-like scenes or events on your way to school. Use what you read to write a spring haiku poem (or two) of your own. Choose your words carefully for the best effect. Read your haikus together as a class. Draw illustrations to go with them if you like, and post on a bulletin board in or outside your classroom.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; reading prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression on successive readings.