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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 16, 2012

Grades 6-8

1. Vroom

The Detroit Auto Show is in full swing this week. Formally known as the North American International Auto Show, it is one of the biggest auto shows in the world. The Auto Show is a great place to check out the newest designs and ideas from car manufacturers. Read an article about a car in this week's newspapers. Then think of some inventive technological features you might like on a car of the future. "Design" a new type of car, and give it a cool name. Using the article you read as a guide, write an article of your own about your car.

Core/National Standard: Reading and writing fluently, speaking confidently, listening and interacting appropriately, viewing critically and representing creatively.

2. Politics vs. Sports

The opening ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics is less than 200 days away. The games will be held in London, England, for the third time, and 205 nations are expected to be on hand in the European nation. Politics have plagued the Summer Olympics in the past. On January 20, 1980, President Jimmy Carter called for the Olympics to be moved from Moscow because of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. and about 60 other countries boycotted those games. In turn, the Soviets boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Find a newspaper article about the Summer Olympics. Or find one online at Discuss as a class how politics can best be avoided during the games.

Core/National Standard: Propelling conversations by posing and responding to questions.

3. Heavy Precipitation

There hasn’t been much snow in the lower 48 states of the United States so far this year, but Cordova, Alaska, isn’t hurting for the white stuff. The town has gotten more than 18 FEET of snow in the past few weeks, and it has caused roofs to collapse, avalanches and has even covered up doors and trapped people inside their houses. According to an Associated Press article, the town is asking the state to come help it dig out from under the snow. Officials said at least three buildings have collapsed and six houses are severely stressed by the wet snow. Dr. Kenneth Hellevang, a professor at North Dakota State University, said the average snowfall weighs about 15 pounds per cubic foot and compacted snow may weigh 20 pounds or more. Look at your newspaper’s weather map for snowfalls around the country. Choose one city and figure out how much the snow that has fallen would weigh if it fell on a roof that is 1,200 square feet in area.

Core/National Standard: Solving real-world and mathematical problems involving area, surface area and volume.

4. I Have a Dream

America’s most revered civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., would have turned 83 on January 15 this year. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and was the son of a Baptist minister. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and a doctorate in theology from Boston University. He helped launch America’s civil rights movement based on Mohandas Gandhi’s idea of achieving change through non-violence. He helped lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and led the March on Washington in 1963, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1964 he won the Nobel Peace Prize. During that year, the civil rights movement achieved one of its greatest accomplishments: the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Search your newspaper for articles about past or present civil rights leaders. Or find an example online. Write a summary of one article, telling what the person is or was trying to change.

Core/National Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to the task.

5. You Don’t Need a Jolt

The next time you reach for an energy drink, you might want to think twice. Some young people have ended up in the hospital with heart palpitations, light-headedness, dizziness, feeling faint and headaches, according to a Detroit Free Press article. According to a new federal report, emergency room visits involving energy drinks have risen tenfold in the United States since 2005. Another report said these drinks can have up to three times the amount of caffeine of a regular can of soda. One Chicago pediatrician said he has interviewed patients in the past and found that they had consumed eight to 12 energy drinks in a single day. Search your newspaper for a story about health in young people. Or find an example online. Put together a multimedia presentation showing the risks or benefits discussed in the article.

Core/National Standards: Using technology to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.