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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Sep. 05, 2022

1. Help for School Supplies

Like everything else, the cost of school supplies has gone up this year due to inflation, transportation costs and supply chain issues. In the state of New Jersey, however, parents got a break on supply prices thanks to the state government. For 10 days the state eliminated New Jersey’s 6.625% sales tax on many of the supplies and materials students will need for class, the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper reported. Among the items that got tax-free status were book bags, binders, folders, highlighters, markers, pens and pencils; computers that cost less than $3,000; computer printers and printer supplies that cost less than $1,000; art supplies such as clay, paints, paintbrushes and sketch pads; instruction materials such as textbooks and workbooks; and school sports or recreational equipment such as athletic shoes, cleats, mouth guards, shoulder pads, shin guards, helmets and more. Savings were substantial for large items. The tax break on a $3,000 computer, for example, would have saved parents nearly $200. The prices people pay for food, clothing, fuel, housing and other items all contribute to the “cost of living” for families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how families are adjusting to higher “cost of living” expenses. Use what you read to write a consumer column detailing which prices have risen the most and how families can deal with them.

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

2. Unusual Emotional Support

Emotional support animals provide help for people during stressful times or situations. They usually are dogs, or cats, or occasionally pet birds that can calm people down. A man in the city of Jonestown, Pennsylvania has a support animal that is a little more unusual, however — an 8-year-old alligator that follows him around, hangs out on the couch and even sleeps in his bed. Joseph Henney first acquired his special alligator — whom he calls WallyGator — when the reptile was 14 months old seven years ago. He had worked with alligators before and noticed from the start that WallyGator was different, the Washington Post newspaper reported. WallyGator began to follow him around the house like a puppy and showed affection by staying close. “He enjoyed being held, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is a super nice, friendly alligator,’” Henney said. When several family members died, WallyGator took on a new role as a support animal. He would playfully pull blankets off Henney when he was on the couch and helped him deal with depression with other antics. When Henney told his doctor how much Wally helped him, the doctor suggested he register his gator as an official support animal. Henney did, and WallyGator now has an official certificate, leash and jacket showing his special support status. More and more people are using emotional support animals to help them deal with stressful situations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one such animal. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling what this animal does and why support animals are important.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Electric Vehicle Batteries

The popularity of electric vehicles continues to grow, and car companies are gearing up to meet the demand. Honda is the latest carmaker to announce a deal through which it will manufacture batteries to power its future electric cars and trucks. Under an agreement with the South Korean battery company LG Energy Solution, Honda will build a $4.4-billion battery factory in the United States at a location yet to be determined. Honda does not offer an electric vehicle in the U.S. at present, but plans to launch an SUV called the Prologue in 2024, CNN News reports. Beyond that, Honda expects to produce 30 electric vehicle models globally by the year 2030. In announcing plans for a new factory, Honda is following other carmakers into the battery business. Mercedes-Benz opened a battery plant in the state of Alabama earlier this year, and Hyundai said in May that it’s building a battery plant in Georgia. Ford said last year it would invest $11.4-billion with SK Innovations to build two manufacturing campuses for electric vehicles and batteries in the states of Tennessee and Kentucky. In an effort to reduce air pollution and slow global warming, automakers are moving to make more non-polluting electric vehicles. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about automakers that are doing this. Use what you read to write a two-minute TV news report on this trend. Choose images for your report from the newspaper or Internet. Read your report aloud and time it to make sure it does not run longer than two minutes.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

4. Still Setting Records

The St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols has been a star in Major League Baseball for 22 years, and at age 42 he is still achieving things no one has done before. Late last month he hit the 694th home run of his career, and in doing so he added another record to his long list of achievements. When he connected for a home run off Cincinnati Reds pitcher Ross Detwiler it was the 450th different pitcher he had homered against. That is one more than the previous record set by San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, baseball’s all-time home run leader with 762. It also was Pujols’ eighth home run in August, which tied another record set by Bonds and Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox for the most home runs in a single month for a player who is at least 42 years old. In his career Pujols has won three Most Valuable Player awards, collected 3,362 hits and hit more than 40 home runs in a season seven times. Albert Pujols has been a success in the Major Leagues for a very long time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone else who has been successful at something for a long time. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend, listing the skills, attitude and personal qualities the person needed to be successful for so long. Share with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

5. Vaccines from the Sky

Rabies is a disease that can affect the brains and behavior of wild animals, pets and even humans. It is caused by a virus and usually spread by bites from infected wild animals such as raccoons, foxes, bats and skunks. Most pets in the United States are vaccinated to protect them from rabies, but the disease still exists in the wild and poses a danger to humans who might encounter infected animals. To curb rabies among wildlife, the U.S. Department of Agriculture each year distributes rabies vaccines in pellet form that wild animals can eat. To appeal to raccoons and other animals, the pellets are covered in fishmeal that makes them taste like fish, CNN News reports. In rural areas the pellets are dropped from airplanes while in suburban or city locations they are distributed by helicopter, vehicles on the ground or “bait stations” in areas where target animals are common. The Agriculture Department’s program runs from late August through October and is focused mostly on preventing the spread of rabies through raccoons this year. Wildlife officials do many things to protect the health and wellbeing of species living in the wild. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one such effort. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining why this is important for the species, for the environment and for people and communities.

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.