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For Grades K-4 , week of Sep. 12, 2016

1. More Hogwarts Stories

J.K. Rowling is not writing any more about Harry Potter, but she is the force behind a new e-book series on Hogwarts, her school for young wizards. Her website,, has collected short stories and other Rowling writings for the books, plus new tales about Hogwarts characters and traditions. The first three books in the series came out September 6 and “dig deeper” into the world of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They are available on the Pottermore website, as well as through Amazon and other digital sales outlets. When books, movies or TV shows are popular, they often inspire follow-up projects from their creators. Some use the same characters, some use the same themes, and some use settings that were popular in the originals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a book, movie or TV show you like. Use your imagination and brainstorm an idea for a follow-up project. Write a paragraph explaining your project and why you think it would be popular.

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. Spacewalkers Install New Port

You never know what astronauts aboard the International Space Station will be asked to do. This summer, for example, they installed a new “front door” on the space station, a first step getting ready to welcome commercial space capsules and their crews. It took just a few hours of spacewalking for Americans Jeffrey Williams and Kate Rubins to hook up a new docking port that serves as the “front door” of the space station. The docking port arrived last month in a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule. The new-style docking site will be needed to handle future cargo missions. The International Space Station has been orbiting the Earth for 18 years, and each year teaches astronauts new things about living in space. With the newspaper or the website, closely read stories about activities of astronauts on the space station. Pick one activity and design a poster showing what is being done, what is teaching space experts and why that is important. Use images from the newspaper or Internet for your poster.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

3. Rescue from ‘World’s Worst Zoo’

Fifteen animals have been removed from what has been called “the worst zoo in the world” by the animal welfare group called Four Paws. A tiger, five monkeys, a porcupine and an emu were among the creatures taken from the Khan Younis Zoo when it could no longer provide proper care and food for animals because of financial difficulties. The animals were moved to the Middle East nation of Israel from the neighboring Gaza Strip, where the zoo was located. Most of the animals eventually found sanctuary in the nearby nation of Jordan, but the tiger is headed for South Africa, where it will roam in a 10,000-square-foot enclosure, and have room to swim and climb as well. All over the world, people step in when animals are in danger or in need. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such a situation. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor of the newspaper detailing what was done, why it was important and how it could inspire others.

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.

4. Washington Monument Closed

Tourist alert: The Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., has been closed down, and may stay closed for as long as nine months while its elevator system is repaired. For about two years, the elevator has been breaking down repeatedly, and it needs major work. After an earthquake five years ago, the monument was closed for nearly three years, undergoing $15 million in repairs, but that project did not include the elevator. That was a mistake, District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said after meeting with National Park Service officials. The Washington Monument is a major attraction in Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital. What are major attractions in your city or state? In the newspaper or online, find a story, photo or listing for one attraction. Use what you read and previous knowledge to create a comic strip series, showing people visiting this attraction and explaining why people like it.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.

5. Greenland Losing Ice

A new satellite study suggests that the Greenland ice sheet near the Earth’s North Pole has lost a trillion tons of ice in three years — and at least 9 trillion tons in the last century. The melting of the sheet has contributed to a worldwide rise in the sea levels of the Earth’s oceans, according to a report published in the science journal called Geophysical Research Letters. Melting ice from Greenland has raised sea levels as much as a full inch in the last century — and up to 10 percent of the rise in sea levels since the 1990s. Global warming and climate change are affecting Greenland’s ice and other habitats and ecosystems around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effect that warming has had on an ecosystem. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a TV ad calling attention to the situation. Write an outline for your ad, including images you would use.

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.