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for Grades 5-8

Sep. 09, 2019
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For Grades 5-8 , week of Feb. 11, 2019

1. A Record Year

The Earth is getting warmer, and to see how you only have to look at the average surface temperatures recorded around the world in recent years. The five warmest years in history have occurred in the last five years, and the year 2018 was the fourth warmest ever, according to new data. The findings were released by America’s NASA space agency, which collects climate information along with its space missions. The NASA data mirror analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which also ranked 2018 as the fourth-warmest year. “We’re no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future,” one NASA scientist said. “It’s here. It’s now.” Global warming is having impact all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different effects of global warming. Use what you read to create a series of comic strips illustrating different effects. Share with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. An Amazing Book

Refugees face hardships and detention all over the world. Now a man detained for years by the nation of Australia has won two of that nation’s richest literary prizes for his account of life in detention camps on Australia’s island of Manus. Even more remarkable, refugee Behrouz Boochani wrote the book on his cell phone and sent it to a publisher in bites as a series of text messages. Boochani, who is a Kurdish-Iranian journalist, was detained in 2013 for attempting to enter Australia without a valid visa. He remains in a detention camp on Manus and was unable to attend the awards ceremony where he was honored for his non-fiction book “No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison.” The awards committee praised the book as “a voice of witness, an act of survival [and] … a cry of resistance.” It is not known how — or when — Boochani will be able to collect the $90,000 he won in prize money. The treatment of refugees is an issue being debated all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a refugee crisis somewhere in the world. Use what you read to write a short editorial, offering suggestions on how the crisis could be addressed by the nation affected directly or by other nations.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Pioneer in the Air

U.S. Navy Captain Rosemary Mariner made history again and again as a military pilot. She was one of the first women to earn her flying wings, the first woman to fly a tactical fighter jet and, in 1990, the first to command a squadron in the run-up to the Gulf War in the Middle East. After she died on January 24 at age 65, her funeral made Navy history again. She was honored by a fly-over of fighter jets piloted only by women. Captain Mariner’s career opened doors for those women and many others in the Navy and the nation’s other armed forces. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another woman who has opened doors for others in her field. Use what you read to write a public proclamation commending the woman for her career. In your proclamation, detail important achievements she had and how they were significant and inspiring to other women.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

4. Bug in a Gem

Scientists have long been fascinated by insects trapped inside the gemstone known as amber. But a gem dealer in the state of Pennsylvania has an even bigger mystery on his hands. Dealer Brian Berger has an insect trapped inside an entirely different gem — an opal found on the Indonesian island of Java in the southern Pacific Ocean. Scientists have never seen an insect in a gem other than amber, which is formed when tree sap fossilizes. Opals form when water that is rich in the mineral silica gets trapped in gaps in other rocks. How an insect would have gotten into one of those gaps baffles scientists and gem experts. They’re also baffled about what kind of insect it is, though it’s pretty clear it is millions of years old. “It’s an oddity,” one said, after viewing a picture of the opal. Scientists often try to figure out mysteries or unusual occurrences in nature. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about scientists trying to explain an unusual occurrence. Use what you read and other resources to write a paragraph or short paper summarizing different explanations offered by scientists and analyzing which seem most likely.

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

5. Helpful Drawings

Everyone has talents to share, no matter what their situation is. And those talents can provide help to those who may need it. In the state of Ohio, for example, a homeless man is creating a coloring book with life messages to help children and adults deal with issues they may face. Eugene Sopher, 44, has had his share of problems in life, but he always has found comfort in his ability to draw. Now, according to the News 5 TV station in the city of Cleveland, he is putting that talent to use. His messages deal with issues like gang violence, the risks of abandoned buildings and the dangers of kids meeting strangers online, the TV station reported. Drawing helps him, too. When he’s drawing, he said, “I’m in the zone.” Everyone has talents that could be used to help others. As a class, discuss what talents you and your classmates have that could be used to help others. Stretch your thinking — some help may be indirect instead of direct. Finish by writing a personal column describing how you or your friends could use your talents to help others, and what effect that could have on other people’s lives.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.