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For Grades 5-8 , week of Nov. 28, 2022

1. 8-Billion People

Just 11 years after the world population reached 7-billion people, the nations of the Earth have added another 1-billion residents. The international United Nations organization announced this month that the world’s population has grown to 8-billion people — and it still is growing. Yet it is growing at a slower pace than in the past and may level off in highly populated areas like the Asian nation of China in the next several years. China remains the nation with the most people, but it may be passed as soon as next year by neighboring India. China has 1.452-billion people while India has 1.413-billion. The United States has the third most people in the world with a population of 336-million. While a growing world population may strain resources and worsen problems like global warming, it also shows there have been improvements in health care, farming, nutrition, clean water and medicine, U.N. officials said. Between 1990 and 2019, human life expectancy at birth increased by almost nine years to age 72, according to U.N. studies. The world’s population is expected to peak at 10.4-billion in the 2080s, U.N. projections indicate, and remain at that level into the 2100s. An increase in population creates challenges and problems for many countries — especially those that are poor or undeveloped. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a developing country that is experiencing population growth. Use what you read to write an editorial detailing the challenges this growth presents to the nation and what other countries could learn from it.

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. Best New Artist — at 95!

Every year the Grammy Awards honor top performances in the world music. When this year’s nominations were announced this fall, one of the nominees was a startling surprise. Angela Alvarez was 95 years old, and she was nominated for Best New Latin Artist! Alvarez always wanted to be a singer from the time she was growing up in the nation of Cuba in the Caribbean Sea south of the United States. She wrote songs for herself and played them for her four children, nine grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. One of those grandchildren, Carlos José Alvarez, loved her music and started recording her performances for family members. As a music composer himself, he found her voice “angelic and soulful” and vowed to get her into a professional recording studio to make an album. It took several years, but he finally did it, flying his grandmother to Los Angeles to cut a 15-song collection. The album, plus a companion film titled “Miss Angela,” was released in 2021 and nominated for a Latin Grammy this year. When Alvarez attended the Latin Grammy Awards with her grandson on November 17, she wrote another chapter in her remarkable musical story. She was named co-winner of the Best New Artist Award with 25-year-old Silvana Estrada, a Mexican artist barely one-quarter her age. Older adults are often in the news for achieving remarkable things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one older adult who has done this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling how the older adult’s achievement can inspire people of all ages.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. What a Goldfish!

If you’ve ever gone to a carnival or fair, you probably have seen games in which you can win a goldfish as a prize. Most of these goldfish are teeny-tiny, but they can grow really large if given the chance. Consider Carrot, a goldfish released into a lake in the European nation of France about 10 years ago. Since she’s been living in the natural environment of Bluewater Lakes, Carrot has grown and grown to the point she now weighs almost 70 pounds! Officials at Bluewater know that because this fall a man from the neighboring nation of Great Britain was able to get Carrot to take the bait on his line and hauled her in to be weighed, the Washington Post reported. “I knew it was a big fish when it took my bait and went off side to side and up and down with it,” Andy Hackett told British newspapers. Like all fish at Bluewater, Carrot was released back into the lake after being weighed and inspected for injuries. The facility said that Carrot is “in excellent health and condition” and could live (and grow) for another 15 years. Tame or wild animals are often in the news for doing unusual things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such an animal. Use what you read to prepare an oral report on the animal, how it was discovered, what makes it unusual and what will become of it. Present your report to the class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. Long-Running Rule

In the United States, presidents can only serve a maximum of eight years, or two terms in office. In other nations, leaders can serve longer — sometimes much longer. In the Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea, President Teodoro Obiang has served for 43 years — the most of any leader in the world — and is looking to extend his rule even longer. Obiang, who is now 80, is an authoritarian leader who first seized power from his uncle in an insurrection coup in 1979. He has been re-elected repeatedly since then, but the elections are considered rubber stamps of his leadership rather than true choices for voters. In the latest election, the government count of the vote showed Obiang’s party winning more than 99 percent of votes cast, CNN News reported. “It is a total fraud,” one of Obiang’s two opponents said. More than 400,000 people registered to vote in the election in the country of about 1.5 million, which is located just north of the Earth’s equator on Africa’s west coast. In many nations, leaders are not chosen in free elections. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a nation where leaders are not freely elected. Use what you read to write a political column assessing how this process affects the people of the nation and how it compares with countries where people are freely elected.

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.

5. ‘Unicorn’ Bird

With the Internet today, some people joke that if you don’t have pictures of an event it really didn’t happen. Well, a team of nature explorers in the nation of Papua New Guinea have gotten pictures of an event they can’t BELIEVE really happened. The explorers in the South Pacific nation have gotten video footage of a bird that had not been seen or documented by scientists for 140 years! The bird known as the black-naped pheasant-pigeon was photographed by a “camera trap” set up in a remote mountain forest by a team of science explorers who were trying to determine if the pheasant-pigeon still existed, the newspaper USA Today reported. A camera trap is programmed to take pictures or videos when birds or other wildlife walk in front of it. The black-naped pheasant-pigeon — “nape” means “neck” — had been rumored to live in the forests of Mount Kilkerran by local residents, who called the red and black bird “Auwo.” Scientists spent a month exploring the mountainous area, and two days before they were to leave they got the video of the rare bird walking on the forest floor. “After a month of searching, seeing those first photos of the pheasant-pigeon felt like finding a unicorn,” said the co-leader of the expedition. Scientists are constantly discovering new things about wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one such discovery. Use what you read to prepare a report on the discovery for younger students. Be sure to include key details and use language that younger student m s would understand.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it. citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.