For Grades 5-8 , week of Aug. 08, 2022

1. Really Valuable Teams

The National Football League is the most popular sports league in America. It is also the most valuable. The league’s 32 teams are worth an AVERAGE of more than $4-billion and the lowest valued team today is worth more than the highest sale price of a franchise just six years ago. All together, NFL teams are worth $132-billion, according to a new study, an increase of 18 percent since last year. Sixteen teams are worth more than $4-billion each, according to the study by the Sportico organization. The most valuable team is the Dallas Cowboys, with a value of $7.64-billion (the highest in all sports). The Cowboys are followed in the Top 5 by the Los Angeles Rams ($5.91-billion), the New England Patriots ($5.88-billion), the New York Giants ($5.73-billion) and the San Francisco 49ers ($5.18-billion). The five lowest-valued teams were the Cincinnati Bengals ($2.84-billion), the Detroit Lions ($2.86-billion), the Jacksonville Jaguars ($2.94-billion), the Buffalo Bills ($2.99-billion) and the Arizona Cardinals ($3.17-billion). Interestingly, the value of teams is not always a predictor of success. Last season, the least valuable team, the Cincinnati Bengals, made it all the way to the Super Bowl and came within 3 points of defeating the second most valuable team, the Los Angeles Rams. Pro sports teams earn a lot of money for their owners, but also bring a lot of money into their communities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the ways professional sports teams benefit the businesses, organizations and residents of their communities. Use what you read to write a sports column detailing these benefits. Suggest other things teams could do to benefit the community, if you wish.

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.

2. ‘Greener’ Concerts

During the summer months, millions of people flock to concerts and outdoor music festivals. These are high-energy events for both the performers and the fans who attend. They also USE a lot of energy, much of it generated by fossil fuels, which contribute to global warming. To reduce this environmental impact, an increasing number of performers are working to make concerts “greener” events by reducing the use of plastics, encouraging recycling, using alternative energy sources and promoting car-pooling or public transportation for fans. Performers such as Billie Eilish, Coldplay, Harry Styles, Pearl Jam, Jack Johnson and the Lumineers are among the leading groups and performers pushing to make concerts a more Earth friendly experience, the Washington Post newspaper reports. These stars are promoting re-usable bottles, food containers, tote bags and eating utensils to reduce the “carbon footprint” of concerts and reduce pollution and energy use. They also are urging fans to use green vehicles like electric cars and connecting fans with local environmental groups to support sustainability efforts in their everyday lives. Music stars like Billie Eilish and Coldplay are taking a leading role to get people to live “greener” lifestyles at concerts and at home. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other celebrities who are promoting “greener” lifestyle choices. Use what you read to write a letter to one or more of these stars, telling them why their efforts are important to students your age, and to the community.

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

3. Shoplifting Crackdown

Shoplifting has been a problem for stores from the time they first offered self-service displays in the early 20th century. But these days, shoplifting has risen to a new peak, with organized gangs attacking large stores in groups to take advantage of those that have weak security. Now more and more stores, especially large drug stores, are fighting back by locking up frequently targeted items like health and beauty products, over-the-counter medications, cigarettes, contraceptives, liquor, teeth-whitening strips and even toothpaste and shampoo, CNN News reports. Shoplifters often re-sell the items they steal on the Internet or in face-to-face “black markets.” While lockdowns can prevent thefts, they also can prevent sales. When customers grow frustrated at having to find a store employee to unlock a product, they often may leave the store and shop online instead, experts say. “It’s extremely discouraging to customers,” said one theft expert. Yet stores feel they have no choice but to increase security. “More products today are locked up because the problem has gotten so much bigger,” said a senior executive at the Retail Industry Leaders Association. Dealing with shoplifters is a huge challenge for store operators today. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other challenges store operators face. Use what you read to make a list of challenges. For each, write out a possible solution. Share with family or friends and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Organizing data using lists, concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. Yummy Chicken Feet

Inflation and higher prices for materials have had a big impact on businesses around the world. In the Asian nation of China, it has pushed KFC restaurants to put CHICKEN FEET on the menu next to legs, wings and breasts. Chicken feet are a delicacy in China, so the move isn’t as shocking as it might sound to U.S. consumers, CNN News reports. But there were no plans to offer them until KFC faced higher costs for fuel, transportation and raw chicken this year. “We try to absorb th[ese] commodity price increase[s], with ... full utilization of the chicken,” said Joey Wat, head of Yum China, the parent company of KFC in China. “Except the feather, I guess.” Like other KFC chicken parts, chicken feet in China are served battered and deep-fried. Restaurants and other businesses are experiencing higher costs in all aspects of their operations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the higher costs faced by one business. Use what you read to write a business column outlining things the business is doing in response to greater expenses and which you think are the most 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.

5. Floods Don’t Stop Ants

In the state of Kentucky and other places, flooding has caused major damage and destruction this summer. Floods have caused huge problems for people but also for wildlife. Some species have developed special ways to cope, however. Consider ants. When water rises, ants have developed a special way to protect their queen and her brood. They link their bodies together to form floating rafts that protect the colony. Researchers documented how they do this in a study published in the science journal PLUS One — and it is a fascinating example of wildlife survival skills. The researchers reported that the youngest in an ant colony — the larvae and pupae — form the raft’s base. Despite being submerged in water up to eight hours, most survive. So, too, do the worker ants dispersed throughout the raft to form a dome around the queen. And of course the queen survives as well. Insects and other kinds of wildlife develop special skills to survive. In the newspaper or online, find a wildlife species that interests you in the stories, photos and ads. Do some research about the species, and then draw a comic strip showing special skills the species has that help it survive in the wild.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.