For Grades 5-8 , week of June 18, 2018

1. Lockdown Nursery Rhyme

The danger of school shootings has left teachers and school leaders searching for ways to make students safer. In a school in Somerville, Massachusetts, a teacher used a familiar nursery rhyme to teach kindergarten students how to stay calm in a school lockdown. On a colorful poster in a kindergarten classroom, the teacher put new words to the song “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to tell students what to do. The words read: “Lockdown, Lockdown, Lock the door / Shut the lights off, Say no more / Go behind the desk and hide / Wait until it’s safe inside / Lockdown, Lockdown, it’s all done / Now it’s time to have some fun!” School officials said the teacher at the Arthur D. Healey School wrote the poem to help her young students stay calm and remember the key steps they would need to follow during a drill or real emergency. “As much as we would prefer that school lockdowns not be a part of the educational experience, unfortunately this is the world we live in,” the officials said. All over the United States, schools and communities are taking steps to make schools safer from shootings or other violence. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some steps communities are taking. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining steps you would like to see your community take.

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. Drone Fashion

From the very first fashion shows, new clothes have been shown off by glamorous models walking down runways next to the audience. In the Middle East nation of Saudi Arabia this month, organizers of a fashion show tried something entirely new. It replaced the human models with digital drone aircraft. So instead of models wearing the clothes, they floated down the runway on clothes hangers attached to drones flying above. Fashion experts were not enthusiastic about the change. “It’s great to think out of the box,” said one. “… But you lose the shape. The dress is just hanging on the drone.” Others were less kind, saying the dresses looked like “ghosts” or the “dementors from Harry Potter.” Drones are being used more and more for business and personal purposes. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a new or expanded use of drones. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing how the drone is being used to do new things and why that is an improvement over the way things were done in the past.

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

3. A Record for Tennis

Tennis star Rafael Nadal turned pro when he was just 15, and at age 32 he is still the Number 1 player in the world in men’s singles competition. And to emphasize the point, he has just won the French Open singles title for a record 11th time in 13 years. The French Open is one of the top competitions in the world — one of the four “Grand Slam” tennis events that pose the greatest challenges for players. It is played on a clay surface in the city of Paris, and Nadal has owned it since he won his first title there at the age of 19. To win his 11th French title, Nadal defeated Number 8 ranked Austrian Dominic Thiem, age 24, in three straight sets. Athletes reach new milestones in sports every year. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an athlete who has done this. Pretend you are going to interview this athlete about reaching the milestone. Write out five questions you would like to ask about how the athlete achieved the milestone or what it took to prepare.

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.

4. Deadly ‘Dead’ Snake

If you kill a dangerous snake, is it still dangerous? In the state of Texas, a man found out the hard way that a rattlesnake can still be dangerous even if it’s dead. Jeremy Sutcliffe used a shovel to chop off the head of a diamondback rattlesnake when he and his wife found it in their garden. When he picked up the head to throw it away, the snake’s jaws clamped on his finger and shot him a deadly dose of venom. Snake experts say this can occur because a snake’s muscles don’t immediately die, even if the head is separated from the body. Touching the head can cause a “muscle reflex” in which the snake can bite and inject venom. In fact, experts say, the bite from a “dead” snake may be worse than from a live one, because live snakes limit how much venom they release but “dead” ones don’t. Sutcliffe was lucky. He suffered seizures, internal bleeding and a temporary loss of vision after the bite, but survived because emergency crews were able to rush him to a hospital by helicopter. Animals sometimes make news in odd or unusual ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about animal making news this way. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short movie or video about this animal’s activity. Write an outline for your movie, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene, in the form of a screenplay. Your movie can be serious or humorous.

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.

5. Chain for Independence

In the European nation of Spain, residents of the Basque region have been advocating for independence for years. This month they staged an unusual protest to demonstrate how many Basques want to be independent from the Spanish government. They formed a human chain of people holding hands, and it stretched for 125 miles! Almost 200,000 people joined together to form the chain seeking a vote on independence and attention to other issues. The chain was organized by the Basque group Gure Esku Dago (In Our Own Hands). “We are not afraid of freedom,” the group wrote on Facebook. “The future is in our hands.” People are working to gain independence or greater freedom all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effort in a country elsewhere in the world. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor explaining why the people are seeking greater freedom or independence and whether the United States government could or should help.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.