For Grades K-4 , week of June 18, 2018

1. New Life for a Landmark

In the City of Detroit, Michigan, one of the most famous buildings is the Michigan Central Depot building. But not for reasons that have made the city proud. The once beautiful train station has been vacant for 20 years and covered with graffiti by vandals. Now the 18-story building has been sold and will be given new life by Ford Motor Company. Ford hasn’t said what it will do with the building, but the car company says an announcement on June 19 will mark “a historic day for Detroit, the auto industry and the future of Ford.” Ford already is active in the neighborhood, having moved members of its electric and self-driving-car programs into a restored factory near the train station. Efforts to improve neighborhoods and cities take many forms. Some re-use old buildings and others build new buildings. As a class, discuss the benefits of both approaches. Then talk about things that could improve your neighborhood or city. Use points from the discussion to write a letter to the editor suggesting a way to improve your neighborhood by re-using an old building or building a new one.

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.

2. LeBron on the Move?

Most basketball experts consider LeBron James the best player in the NBA today. This summer he could become a free agent and leave the Cleveland Cavaliers. Where he might play next is causing lots of discussion around the league. Many teams would like to have him but some may not be able to afford the multi-million salary he is likely to want. Others may not offer the kind of opportunity James wants — a chance to win another NBA title next season. James has been to the NBA finals the last four years with the Cavaliers but has won just once in four showdowns with the Golden State Warriors. He won two titles with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013. Experts say his top choices will include the Houston Rockets, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers, among others. Where LeBron James will play next year is a big issue for the NBA. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about his plans. Use what you read, and prior knowledge, to write a sports column giving your opinion on what team would be the best fit for James next season. Share and discuss as a class.

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. Rescues for Animals

The eruption of the Kilauea volcano in the state of Hawaii has caused all kinds of problems on the state’s Big Island. Now a new one is getting attention: Rescued animals that are scattered in shelters all over the area, often without the knowledge of their owners. When the lava started to erupt, many residents had just minutes to get away. Some didn’t have time to get pets or livestock before leavng. Now shelters, sanctuaries and foster homes are struggling with what to do with animals ranging from dogs and cats to goats, sheep, chickens and even turkeys. “We have people crying on the phone,” noted one sanctuary leader. “The phone is ringing off the hook with people looking for help. It's very emotional for them.” When natural disasters hit, people all over the world look for ways to help. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about help being offered people and animals affected by the volcano in Hawaii. Use what you read to write a short editorial, outlining a way people In your community could help the people or animals of Hawaii.

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.

4. Happy Birthday, Mr. President

George H.W. Bush served just one term as president of the United States, but 25 years after leaving office he has made history. On June 12, the former president celebrated his 94th birthday, the first former U.S. president to reach that age. The previous records for oldest ex-presidents were held by Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, who both lived to be more than 93 years old. Former president Jimmy Carter will turn 94 on October 1. George H.W. Bush served as president from 1989 to 1993, and as vice president under Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989. He is also the father of President George W. Bush, who served from 2001 to 2009. When people reach an advanced age, communities often honor them by celebrating their lives. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person who has lived a very long life. Use what you read and images that you find to design a poster to honor this person and call attention to his/her achievements.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. New Elephant Home

The use of wild animals to entertain people at circuses and animal events has drawn increased criticism around the world. Many circuses are discontinuing the practice, including America’s Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. But what do you do with an elephant when it retires from the circus? In Europe, two animal rights groups have announced they are establishing the continent’s first sanctuary for former circus elephants. The World Animal Protection organization and the charity known as Elephant Haven said they are establishing the sanctuary in the nation of France, and it will be operating by this fall. People will still be able to see the elephants. A platform will allow visitors to observe the elephants roaming freely and behaving as they would in the wild. Elephants from Ringling Bros. have been retired to a conservation center in the state of Florida. Animal sanctuaries and reserves provide safe places for many kinds of animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a reserve for retired circus elephants or other animals. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing how one kind of animal might react to its new life in a reserve or sanctuary.

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