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For Grades 5-8 , week of June 03, 2019

1. Gone Fishing

Around the world there is more and more demand for fish as a food. That means more boats are going out to catch the fish in the world’s oceans. And that could spell trouble in the future for the Earth’s fish populations. According to a new report, the number of boats engaged in fishing jumped from 1.7-million to 3.7-million between the years 1950 and 2015. They travel farther to catch fish, work longer hours and use technology more extensively to be more efficient. The new study estimates there will be a million more fishing vessels on the oceans by the middle of this century and that could put more stress on fish populations. United Nations research shows that nearly 90% of the world's marine fish stocks are already depleted, overfished or fully exploited. Overfishing is upsetting the balance of nature in the ecosystems of the world’s oceans. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another human activity that is changing an ecosystem. Use what you read to write a short editorial, analyzing how human activity has changed the ecosystem, and what steps could be taken to reverse or stabilize the situation.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

2. Unusual Math Journey

Science and math students come from all over the world to study at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But none of the students at MIT can match the journey that John Urschel took to get there. Before enrolling in MIT’s doctoral math program, Urschel was a professional football player with the Baltimore Ravens and a standout offensive lineman for Penn State University. The 27-year-old Urschel has always loved math and football, but two years ago he made news by walking away from the NFL to pursue math full time. Now he has written a book “Mind and Matter” that tells how he balanced his twin passions and what led him eventually to choose math over football. One reason was the risk of concussions — he had one while playing and couldn’t do high level math for a while. Another reason was the chance to be a role model. As an African American in a largely white field, he wants to show “the beauty of mathematics” to students of color and to inspire them to pursue math in college or careers. John Urschel seeks to be a role model for students of color who might want to pursue mathematics. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person who is a role model for students. Write a paragraph explaining how this person is a role model and why that is important for students coming up. Illustrate your paragraph with photos or images from the newspaper or Internet, if you wish.

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; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

3. ‘Illegal’ Dog Names

In the United States, freedom of speech is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. No so in the Asian nation of China, where the government keeps close control of its citizens. A man in eastern China found that out last month when he was arrested for giving dogs “illegal” names that referred to government workers. A dog breeder named Ban was detained by police after posting information online that indicated he had named the dogs Chengguan and Xieguan. “Chengguan” are city officials who deal with low-level crime, while “Xieguan” are community workers such as traffic assistants. Ban said he had given the dogs the names “for fun,” but police said they were “insulting [to] law enforcement personnel.” Freedom of speech takes many forms in the United States. It is not just what people say, but what they express in movies, art, books, TV shows and even clothing. In the newspaper or online, find examples of different ways people exercise freedom of speech. Use what you find to create a poster showcasing “Freedom of Speech” in this country. As a class, discuss how life would be different if U.S. citizens didn’t have freedom of speech.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.

4. What an Achievement!

It’s not unusual for an older person to decide to go back to college. What is unusual is for a 60-year old grandmother to move out of her home, settle into dorm life with teenagers right out of high school and do so well she finished first in her class at graduation. Rhonda E. Davis graduated as class valedictorian this month from Pennsylvania’s Cheyney University, the oldest historically black college in the nation. She earned not one, but two bachelor’s degrees — one in fine arts and one in graphic design. She compiled an almost perfect 3.97 grade point average, while serving as an informal mentor and advisor to the younger students she was living with. It came naturally to the mother of four, and grandmother of 11. As she said in her graduation speech as valedictorian: “Nothing changes, if nothing changes. You have to be the person who initiates that change.” People often make news for making a change in their lives, or changing their communities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who making changes for himself/herself or for the community. Write a song called “Agent of Change” by changing the words to a song you know so it is about your chosen change-maker. Share with the class. Better yet, perform your song!

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

5. Finishing the Job

Police, firefighters and emergency crews save lives and help people in many ways. In the city of Gresham, Oregon, last month, firefighters showed how far they were willing to go to help a person in need. A fire crew had been called to a home when the owner had collapsed while mowing the lawn. The crew were able to revive him and get him into an ambulance so he could be checked out at a local hospital. But they weren’t done, once the ambulance pulled away. Firefighter Erik Olson started up the lawn mower, and finished the job Weeks had started. “I could not believe it that he would do that,” Weeks’ wife JoAnn said later. “Those guys are unreal.” Olson had a simpler explanation for what he did. “If you see an opportunity to make a difference for someone, take it,” he told a local TV station. Everyone can make a difference in their community. They just have to recognize ways they can help. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people or neighborhoods in a community. Pick one person or neighborhood and brainstorm ways you or others could make a difference. Write a letter to the editor detailing one or more ways you or others could make a difference and how that would benefit the community.

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.