For Grades K-4 , week of Jan. 06, 2020

1. Hello, 2020

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. A Star Helps Kids

The Heisman Trophy honors the top player each season in college football. This year’s winner was quarterback Joe Burrow of Louisiana State University, and when he accepted the award he proved he could have impact off the football field as well as on it. In his acceptance speech, Burrow spoke emotionally about the thousands of children living in poverty in his hometown of Athens, Ohio. “I’m up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school,” he said, adding that he wanted them to know “You guys can be up here, too.” Burrow’s remarks inspired an Athens man to start an online fund-raising campaign to help families living in poverty in the community, and in a matter of days it had raised nearly $300,000. The money will go to the Athens County Food Pantry, which serves over 3,400 meals a week to residents in need. Celebrities and sports stars often reach out to help people. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about a star or celebrity doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor explaining how celebrity support can give added attention to problems that need solutions.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Mars in the Spotlight

The planet Mars is next out from Earth in the solar system, and it is considered the most like Earth of all the planets. That has made it a top target for space missions seeking to find out if it ever supported life or could support life if astronauts were to visit in the future. This year, scientists will learn a lot more about conditions on Mars when as many as four missions will take off for Mars this summer. Three of the missions will carry rovers to explore the surface. The United States is launching a rover that will also carry a small helicopter. The Asian nation of China will attempt to land a rover on Mars for the first time. The nation of Russia and the European Space Agency will team up in their effort to land a rover. The United States has successfully landed four rovers on Mars — the spacecraft named Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity. Space missions seek to gather new information about planets, our solar system or outer space. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a new space mission. Use what you read to draw a picture showing what the mission seeks to learn or achieve. Write a paragraph explaining your picture.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

4. Warm Up with Tacos

In the winter months, staying warm is a challenge to many people who are homeless or struggling to get by. In Dallas, Texas, the owner of a taco shop has come up with an unusual way to help. Outside her store, Emilia Flores has set up a coat rack with a sign that reads: “Are you cold? Take one. Do you want to help? Leave one.” Flores set up her rack about five years ago after seeing the approach while visiting in Mexico. Since then, thousands of people have taken advantage of the coats she offers, and she sometimes gets as many as 50 a day in donations. They go as fast they come, she told the Washington Post newspaper, because there is always need for warm clothes in the colder months. Temperatures in Dallas can drop into the 30s and 40s on some winter days. When people see problems in communities, they often come up with solutions on their own. With a partner, find and closely read a story about a problem that needs a solution in your community or state. Use what you read to write a proposal for solving the problem that could be done by community members or government leaders. Share ideas as a class and discuss.

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. Huge Ancient Shipwreck

In ancient times, sailing ships played a big role moving materials and cargo from place to place. They faced great dangers from storms, pirates and other threats, and frequently sank before they reached their destination. In the eastern Mediterranean Sea, scientists are getting a fresh look at how these ships operated thanks to the discovery of a 2,000-year-old wreck that is the biggest ever found in the area. The wrecked ship was part of the fleet of the ancient Roman Empire, and at 110 feet long it was more than twice the size of most cargo vessels. It carried a cargo of 6,000 earthen pots which could have contained grain, olive oil, nuts, wine or other materials. The discovery could give scientists a “wealth of information about the shipping routes, trading … and ship construction” during the period, scientists said. It was made by the Oceanus network of the University of Patras, using sonar equipment that bounces sound waves off the ocean floor. Shipwrecks give scientists a good picture of life in earlier times because ocean water preserves their contents. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a shipwreck discovery. Use what you read to write a short creative story telling what the last day of the ship’s voyage might have been like.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.