For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 03, 2022

1. Hello, 2022

It’s a new year, and people all over the world are looking to make a fresh start, improve their habits or set new goals. They often do this by making new year’s resolutions in which they write out the things they want to achieve. The word “resolution” comes from the word “resolve,” which means to decide firmly on a course of action. As a class, discuss resolutions you would like to make to improve your habits or achieve goals in the new year. Then search the newspaper or Internet for people in the news who might want to make new year’s resolutions. Pick three and write out a resolution each might want to make — and why. Finish by writing out a resolution you would like to make and explain how you can make it come true.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

2. Megan Thee Graduate

Megan Thee Stallion has won wide popularity as a rapper, songwriter, video star and spokeswoman for the Nike and Popeyes chicken companies. Now she has added another item to her list of achievements — college graduate. Last month the three-time Grammy Award winner earned a bachelor of science degree in health administration from Texas Southern University. Stallion said she stuck with college to earn a degree to honor both her late mother and her late grandmother. “I want[ed] to get my degree because I really want[ed] my mom to be proud," the 26-year-old artist told People last year. Stallion added a bit of excitement to the graduation ceremonies, sending out a message on Twitter that read “Good morning hotties !!! It's graduation dayyyy. We did it…” Stallion said she has no plans to give up her entertainment career but would like to use her degree and money to start an assisted-living facility for older people and “let my classmates run it.” By earning a college degree, Megan Thee Stallion wants to be a role model for students coming up in schools, especially girls. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person who could be a role model for students. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor outlining how this person could be a role model and why that could be important for young people.

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.

3. Gaming Legend

John Madden, the Hall of Fame football coach who became the face of the Madden NFL video game, died just before New Year’s Day at the age of 85. In his long and productive life, Madden won more than 75 percent of his games as coach of the Oakland Raiders, led the team to a Super Bowl victory and became one of football’s most influential TV announcers. But perhaps his greatest fame came as the face and spokesman for Madden NFL, which engaged millions of fans with NFL action and strategy and earned billions of dollars for the EA Sports company. The interactive, simulation-based game developed an almost cult following, with annual midnight release celebrations and tournaments attracting players of all ages. After its release in 1988, it sold more than 130-million copies by 2018 and earned more than $4-billion. John Madden was widely respected as an expert on how the game of football is played and the skills needed to be successful. Many other people are experts in other fields. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who is an expert on a subject or activity. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a documentary film about how this person became an expert in his or her field. Write an outline for your documentary, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene. 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.

4. Baby Dinosaur

Scientists have long been fascinated by the connections between dinosaurs and modern birds. Now the discovery of a 70-million-year-old fossil of a baby dinosaur in its egg is shedding new light on those connections. The fossil was of an unhatched dinosaur from the theropod family, which is considered the ancestor of all modern birds. Theropods included Tyrannosaurus rex and velociraptors and walked on two legs like birds of today. They also laid eggs and hatched them as modern birds do. The baby fossil in its egg was curled up in the way modern bird embryos are when hatching and appeared to have shifted position, another modern characteristic. The egg was around 7 inches long and the dinosaur inside was estimated to be 11 inches long from head to tail. “It is an amazing specimen ...” noted the co-author of the report that announced the discovery in December. “Up until now, little has been known of what was going on inside a dinosaur’s egg prior to hatching.” Dinosaur fossils give scientists new information on species that lived millions of years ago. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a dinosaur fossil discovery. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend or teacher, describing the dinosaur discovery, how it was made and why it is important.

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.

5. Snow in the Mountains

The state of California has experienced a severe water shortage over the last few years due to a lack of rain and snow. In the last month, however, an unusual weather pattern has made a huge dent in California’s water “drought.” In just 30 days, heavy snows in the mountains have increased the state’s snowpack from 18 percent to nearly 98 percent, CNN News reported. And rains at lower elevations have further replenished the water supply. The moisture contained in these systems has given California its wettest start to the “water year” in more than 40 years. The water year, or wet season, runs from October 1 through September 30 of the following year. While California is benefiting from early snow, other states are still experiencing a shortage. Of particular note are the states of Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, whose mountains feed the Colorado River and provide water for seven states. Water shortages are affecting areas in all parts of the world. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about one shortage. Use what you read to write an environmental column for the newspaper detailing the impact of this shortage on people, wildlife and habitats — and what it could teach other areas.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.