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For Grades K-4 , week of Apr 04, 2016

1. Firefighter Shares Air Mask

Firefighters often do amazing things to help people. In Washington, D.C., recently, a woman was trapped in a burning third floor apartment and in danger of being overcome by smoke. That’s when firefighter Danny Lovato jumped into action. The 11-year firefighting veteran grabbed a ladder and threw it against the wall to reach her — and then removed his mask and shared air from his tank with her until other firefighters could reach them from inside. The 65-year-old woman had thought she would have to jump before the 39-year-old Lovato got to her. Both were treated for smoke inhalation — in hospital rooms across the hall from each other. Danny Lovato is being hailed as a hero for his actions to save the woman trapped in her burning apartment. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about another firefighter, police officer or emergency team member who has done something special to help someone. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor thanking the person or team for what they did.

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

2. President in Excellent Health

President Obama may have political problems, but physically he is in pretty good shape. His doctors report that he’s in excellent health, and since his last checkup he has gained muscle and lowered his cholesterol level. The President works at staying healthy. He exercises daily, with focus on aerobics fitness and resistance weight training. And he eats a healthy diet, which is not surprising since First Lady Michelle Obama stresses healthy eating in her “Let’s Move!” program to reduce the number of children who are overweight. Being active and getting exercise is a great way to stay healthy. And exercise isn’t just what you get playing sports or in gym class. Any activity that gets you moving is good for your health. In the newspaper or online, find and read about three activities in which you could get exercise and have fun. Then draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper showing you and your friends being active in these activities. Talk about your choices as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

3. Life on Mars?

Is there life on the planet Mars? Two robot spacecraft blasted off together last month on a project to find out. The launch marked the start of a two-part ExoMars project to hunt for signs of life on the so-called “red planet” next out from Earth in the solar system. The mission is a joint effort of the European nation of Russia and the European Space Agency. On this part of the mission an orbiting craft called the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and a landing craft called Schiaparelli will travel seven months to Mars and then separate. The TGO will go into orbit around the planet and Schiaparelli will head for the Martian surface. The second phase of the project will send a deep-drilling rover craft to Mars in 2018. The ExoMars mission seeks to gather new information about conditions on Mars. As a class, use the newspaper or the Internet to find and closely read a story about this mission or another mission exploring planets or other space objects. Use what you read as a jumping off point for a science fiction story based on what the mission might discover. Use your imagination and write an opening scene that would make people want to read more! Give your story an eye-catching title.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. Snowpack & Drought

The state of California has been suffering from lack of rain and a long drought that has left it with a water shortage. The state depends on snowfall to provide water when the snow melts, but there has been a shortage of snow in recent years. This winter California had hoped a strong El Nino weather system would deliver heavy snow and rain to break the drought, but it didn’t happen. December and January were wet, but since then it’s been nothing but sunshine and blue skies — and temperatures over 90 degrees in some areas! The last four years have been the driest on record in California, and the governor has ordered a 25 percent water conservation program in local cities and towns. A shortage of water affects all aspects of life in a state — from families, to businesses, to farms, to wildlife areas. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo of an outdoor scene. Then imagine that the place that is pictured will not have rain or water for month after month. Write the word “SHORTAGE” down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter of the word to start a complete sentence explaining one effect of the water shortage on the place in the photo.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. Landfill Food Attracts Storks

Instead of migrating from Europe to Africa for the winter, white Iberian storks now are remaining in the nations of Spain and Portugal year-round. The reason? Easy-to-find food in landfills. Researchers report in the science journal Movement Ecology that because there is lots of food disposed in landfills, Iberian storks are not migrating. As a result, the population of the four-foot tall birds is 10 times larger than it was 20 years ago. Under new European rules, all landfill sites with open-air trash piles are supposed to be closed. That hasn’t happened yet, however, so the storks are sticking around during the winter months. Warmer weather also has made it easier for them to stay in Europe in the winter. Human activities sometimes can change the behavior of wildlife. In the newspaper or online, closely read stories or study photos of wildlife species. Make a chart and list species you have found and studied. Next to each, write a way that human activities could change the way the species behaves. Then write whether that is a good or bad thing.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.