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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Apr 09, 2012

1. Brother Against Brother

The most divisive war in America’s history lasted just under four years in the middle of the 1800s. The Civil War between the northern and southern states started on April 12, 1861, when Confederate soldiers launched an attack on Union-held Fort Sumter off the coast of South Carolina. During the 34-hour siege, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the fort. By April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort, and two days later President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 soldiers to stop the Confederate insurrection. The war ended up costing America about 625,000 lives during its four-year period. On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, to end the war. Several civil wars are going on today in other countries. Find newspaper articles about them and discuss them as a class. Compare their causes to those of America’s Civil War.

Core/National Standard: Posing questions that elicit elaboration and responding to others’ questions and comments.

2. Passover

This week, Jewish people all over the world are observing Passover. Use the newspaper and other resources to learn more about Passover, and how people observe it in the U.S. and other places. Then discuss how this religious observance compares to others you know.

Core/National Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions, building on others’ ideas; describing and comparing characteristics of major world cultures, including language, religion, belief systems, gender roles and traditions.

3. Studying Abroad

Every year, thousands of children leave their parents in the Asian nation of South Korea to attend school in the United States. These aren’t high school exchange students, however, but children as young as 8 years old. Parents send their children to live with friends or relatives in the U.S. in order to learn English and have an advantage over Korean students who stay at home, according to an Associated Press article. In fact, 77 percent of Korean students in the United States in 2009 were in elementary or middle school. They also head to the U.S. because schools in South Korea are so intense that children attend school from dawn until late evening. Even then, there is often private tutoring when they get home. Many young Korean children feel intense pressure to succeed and experience depression, distress and worry, the article said. Find a newspaper article about education in another country. Or find one online. Write a comparative essay on the differences between education in that country and in the United States.

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

4. Titanic Investigation

The 100th anniversary of the sinking of what was called the “Unsinkable Ship” is next week. Intense interest in the journey of the Titanic has swirled around the world since the passenger liner sank after striking an iceberg on April 15, 1912. Now researchers have pieced together the first comprehensive map of the entire 3-by-5-mile debris field in the North Atlantic Ocean, according to an Associated Press article. The map was created using sonar images and more than 100,000 photos taken from underwater robots, the article said. Researchers hope it will shine a new light on exactly what happened. The article said marks on the ocean bottom suggest the stern of the ship didn’t plunge straight down as previously thought, but rotated like a helicopter blade. Find a newspaper story about the Titanic. Or find one online. Do additional Internet research and complete a research paper on the sinking of the ship.

Core/National Standard: Using technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

5. Investment Savvy

Decimal points. Gains. Losses. Percentages. Graphs of trends. There are few better ways to learn these skills than through real life and the stock market. Following and understanding the stock market requires a number of math and critical thinking skills. As a class, start a one-month stocks game. Each student will have $10,000 to invest in companies listed in the stock market. Using the newspaper, research companies to invest in and choose five. Check the newspaper every day to track your stocks and put together a graph to log gains and losses. See who’s the best investor at the end of a month.

Core/National Standard: Creating models to link classroom mathematics and statistics to everyday life, work and decision-making.