For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 24, 2022

1. It’s Cookie Time

Attention cookie lovers. It’s Girl Scout cookie season, and there is some big news involving this year’s sales. The biggest, for people with a sweet tooth, is that there is a new flavor joining favorites like Thin Mints, Samoas and Do-si-dos. For the first time, the Girl Scouts are offering Adventurefuls, a brownie-inspired cookie with caramel-flavored crème and a hint of sea salt. The Scouts also are offering a new option for ordering cookies online. They have partnered with the DoorDash delivery service that allows consumers the opportunity to order online for delivery to homes and offices. Some scouts and troops had turned to the Internet last year when the Girl Scouts shut down in-person sales due to the coronavirus epidemic and now online shopping will be offered nationwide. With more people vaccinated and wearing masks, in-person sales will be back this year with scouts going door to door or setting up booths outside stores and supermarkets. Girl Scout cookie sales raise money for Girl Scout activities in communities all over the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another fund-raising effort helping a group or organization. Use what you read to write a short editorial, analyzing why this effort is successful or how it could be better. Share with the class and discuss.

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Olympic Spectator Crunch

The Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin February 4 in the Asian nation of China, but few people are going to be able to see the competition in person. Last week China announced that tickets to the Winter Games will no longer be sold to the general public in China, and overseas spectators are banned from entering the country due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. Among Chinese fans, only certain approved groups will be allowed to watch the Olympics in person, after undergoing strict measures to prevent transmission of the virus. And to top everything off, spectators will be allowed to clap, but not shout, in support of athletes for fear of spreading the virus in water droplets contained in the cheers and breathing of fans. Athletes and others arriving for the Olympics will be kept in a restricted “bubble” area in the host city of Beijing and will not be allowed to travel in the rest of the nation. In the United States the Olympic competition in skiing, skating, hockey and other winter sports will be carried on NBC-TV. Despite concerns about the coronavirus epidemic, top U.S. athletes still plan to compete in the Winter Olympics in China. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the U.S. Winter Olympics team. Use what you read to write a sports column spotlighting top “athletes to watch” once the competition begins.

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

3. Massive Volcano Blast

Volcanoes form when hot, liquid rock called magma forces its way through the outer layer of the Earth’s crust. This usually happens when pressure builds up on the magma due to earthquakes, shifts in the rock beneath the Earth’s surface or other changes. In the southern Pacific Ocean, the island nation of Tonga is dealing with an “unprecedented disaster” this week after a massive eruption of an underwater volcano covered the nation with ash, sent toxic gases into the atmosphere and caused tsunami tidal waves that traveled as far as the U.S. state of California. The eruption polluted all the drinking water on the island and damaged a key communications cable under the sea, cutting Tonga off from the rest of the world. The Tongan government has declared a state of emergency, urged residents to stay indoors and wear masks if they venture outside. Volcano eruptions are a natural event that can have great impact on the surrounding area. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another natural event that is affecting people and the environment. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper on the cause and impact of this natural event. Print or clip photos from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your paper.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Record-Setting Moms

It's often said you should never let go of your dreams. Two American distance runners took that advice to heart, and last week they set new U.S. records for women in the marathon and half marathon. They did it at ages when most runners are past their prime — and after taking time to raise families. Keira D’Amato, age 37, and Sara Hall, 38, set the new marks at the same running event in Houston, Texas, and D’Amato broke a record that had stood for more than 15 years. She ran the 26-mile full marathon in 2 hours 19 minutes 12 seconds, breaking the old American record by 24 seconds. Hall ran the 13-mile half-marathon in 1 hour 7 minutes 15 seconds, besting the previous mark by 10 seconds. “I think it’s so powerful and says so much about the resiliency of women,” D’Amato said. “Two mothers in their late 30s just changed the history books in the same day.” Mothers often achieve amazing things outside the home while raising a family. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a mom who is doing this. Use what you read to write a two-minute TV news report about this high achieving mom and how she balances work or competition with raising a family. Time yourself reading aloud so that your report doesn’t run longer than two minutes. Pick photos from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your report.

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.

5. Wood Is Good

When colleges and universities plan new buildings, they usually look to make them as modern and state of the art as possible. Michigan State University did that when it was planning its new STEM Teaching and Learning Facility — by looking to the past for materials. In addition to steel and concrete, the STEM center uses wooden mass timber materials for the facility next to Michigan State’s Spartan Stadium. Mass timber materials included beams, panels and decorative pieces. Their use reduces the carbon footprint of construction projects, helps lower the amount of carbon in the air and reduces global warming. The Michigan State project was honored for its innovation by a Leadership Award from the international and nonprofit Forest Stewardship Council. Using wood in modern construction is considered a “green” and “sustainable” approach that helps the environment and slows global warming. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another construction project that is using green or sustainable techniques. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor calling attention to this green approach and how it helps the environment.

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.