For Grades 5-8 , week of June 20, 2022

1. Arm the Teachers?

All across America, leaders are looking for ways to make schools safer after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Texas. In the state of Ohio, the state legislature and governor have decided that allowing more teachers to carry guns is the way to go. Republican Governor Mike DeWine has signed into law a bill that will arm more teachers and school staff members by reducing the amount of training they would need and easing other restrictions. Ohio already allows teachers to carry guns, but they need 700 hours of training as a peace officer to do it. The new law would allow them to carry guns with as little as 24 hours of training. DeWine said the training would be “scenario-based,” focusing on training teachers to deal with active shooters like the 18-year-old who attacked the Texas elementary school with an assault weapon. Arming teachers to protect schools is a controversial approach to gun violence. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories and commentaries about this approach. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing the benefits and risks of arming teachers in schools. Conclude your column by giving your opinion on whether arming teachers is a good approach, or if another approach would be better. Share with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

2. Lizzo for Change

Lizzo is one of the biggest stars in music, and her fans closely watch everything she does. She, apparently, closely watches what her fans do as well. When the hip hop singer was called out for a lyric in her new song “Grrrls,” she not only acknowledged the criticism, but changed the wording. In the song, Lizzo sings about going “off the deep end” and warns “I’mma spaz; I’m about to knock somebody out.” A fan who is a “disability advocate” took issue with the word “spaz,” which she said is a slur derived from spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy that involves muscle stiffness. “It’s an ableist slur,” Hannah Diviney wrote on the Twitter social media site. “It’s 2022. Do better.” Lizzo immediately took steps to do just that, changing the lyric to “hold me back; I’m about to knock somebody out.” In a statement to all her social media platforms, the three-time Grammy Award winner said “This is the result of me listening and taking action. As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.” Famous or prominent people sometimes do things that offend others. They then have to decide whether to apologize or “make things right.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a famous person doing something that offended others. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling what the person did, how he or she responded to criticism and whether you think it was an adequate response.

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.

3. Not McDonald’s

In response to Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, the McDonald’s company announced it was pulling out of Russia and selling off the 850 restaurants it had operated there. Now the restaurants are starting to re-open under Russian ownership. There are no golden arches, Big Macs or treats like McFlurries, but the new Russian restaurants still offer basic favorites like double cheeseburgers and fries. The restaurants have a new name since their purchase by a Siberian businessman — “Vkusno i Tochka,” which translates as “Tasty and that’s it,” the Washington Post newspaper reports. The wording plays off the old slogan of McDonald’s in Russia, which was “fun and tasty.” The new owner plans to refurbish about 850 restaurants and preserve the jobs of about 62,000 people who worked at the old McDonald’s. He also plans to offer different specialty foods in different parts of Russia. When businesses get new ownership, they often make changes in the way they operate. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a business that has new ownership. Use what you read to write a business column detailing what changes are being made, why they are being made and which you think will be the most popular or successful. Suggest additional changes you would recommend, if you like.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.

4. Trailblazing Driver

It has been a historic month for trailblazers from the nation of Mexico. Days after the first woman born in Mexico took a trip into space, the first Mexican-born race car driver won a race in the famous NASCAR Cup Series. Daniel Suárez made history by holding off the competition to win at Northern California’s Sonoma Raceway in his 195th race in the Cup Series. The 30-year-old Suárez is the fifth foreign-born Cup Series winner, following drivers from the nations of Australia, Colombia, Canada and Italy, CNN News reported. He drives a Chevrolet Camaro in the stock car competition he first joined in 2017. “It’s been quite a journey,” he said after winning. “I feel like my story is very similar to many, many Mexicans, Latinos that are coming to this country trying … to find their dream. If I was able to make it happen, everyone out there can make it happen.” In addition to racing, Suárez provided the voice of the character Daniel “Danny” Swérvez in the animated movie “Cars 3.” He was no stranger to cartoons. He watched them to learn English when he first moved to the United States. With his success in racing, Daniel Suárez has become a hero and role model for Latino and Hispanic Americans. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person who is a role model for Hispanic Americans. Write the words “ROLE MODEL” down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter of the words to begin a word or phrase describing how this person’s actions as a role model affect others. Share with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; organizing data using lists, concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.

5. Ski Grinding

In the world of skateboarding, ’boarders like to perform “grinding” tricks by sliding their boards along railings, curbs, edges or other sharp surfaces. It turns out skiers like to grind as well. This month an Olympic skier broke a Guinness World Record in Sweden when he completed a nearly 507-foot, rail grind on skis. Jesper Tjader set the ski grinding record by jumping onto a rail while traveling downhill at the Skistar Resort in the town of Åre near the 4,660-foot Åreskutan mountain, UPI News reported. The 28-year-old Tjader is a freestyle skier who competed on the Swedish team in the 2014, 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympics. Athletes often seek to set unusual records. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about an athlete who has done this or is trying to. Use what you read to draw a diagram or illustration showing what the effort involves. Label key parts of your diagram and present it to the class.

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.