For Grades 5-8 THE WEEK OF Mar. 18, 2019

1. ‘Captain Marvel’

Movies based on the characters from Marvel Comics books have been some of the most popular in history. But the new “Captain Marvel” movie is making history in another way. It is the first Marvel movie to feature a female superhero, and it inspired “Go Fund Me” campaigns to raise money to send girls to see it. The campaigns were set up so that girls could see a strong, female character in a leading role, and they were supported by TV star Ellen DeGeneres and the E! News network. With more than $60,000 raised in a matter of days, the campaign helped make “Captain Marvel” a smash hit in its opening weekend. “Captain Marvel” sold more theater tickets in its first weekend than any movie so far this year — more than $153 million in the United States and more than $455 million around the world. Made by Disney, “Captain Marvel” topped the opening of Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman” by more than $50-million in ticket sales for its first weekend. The “Go Fund Me” campaigns for “Captain Marvel” sought to expose girls to a strong, positive female role model. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about a woman who also could be a strong female role model for girls. Use what you read to write a short editorial explaining why this woman is a good role model for girls and how girls could learn from her success and experiences.

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. Dog-Like Robot

Robots are being developed that can do more and more things to help people at work or at home. But how would you like a robot pet? Scientists at the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a four-legged robot that acts like a dog, and can even do back flips on command. It’s not the first dog-like robot. Other researchers have produced dog-like robots named Spot and BigDog that can open doors, carry heavy loads and run nearly 20 mph. MIT’s robot, nicknamed “Mini Cheetah,” can trot over uneven terrain about twice as fast as an average person and has “very high … power and acceleration capability.” These qualities may or may not make the robot a great pet, but they will give it “a variety of uses where human or animal-like mobility is necessary [where] it may be unsafe to send a person,” one researcher wrote. These uses could include search and rescue, inspection, surveillance and more. Robots are being used in more and more ways to help people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a new robot being developed to perform tasks. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining how the robot is a better way to perform the task(s) than methods of the past.

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.

3. Out of Control

Here’s a tip for people who want to wish a relative “Happy Birthday” in a special way. Don’t buy space on a highway billboard — and certainly don’t include the relative’s phone number. Two Florida men and their New Jersey father learned that the hard way this month. Their lesson began when Michael and Christopher Ferry wanted to wish their dad, Chris Sr., a Happy Birthday by buying space on a billboard near Atlantic City on the New Jersey shore. The message said “Wish My Dad a Happy Birthday” and listed his cell phone number. At first Chris Sr. thought it was funny, and took a selfie of himself in front of the sign. When their sons posted it online, things got out of control, however. Thousands of calls came in from all over the world — more than 20,000 in all. It got so bad, Chris Sr. had to give himself the ultimate birthday gift — a new cell phone number. Sometimes people’s actions get unexpected results. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one case. Use what you read to write an advice column outlining what lessons people could learn from the unexpected results — and how that could affect decisions they make in the future.

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.

4. Popular Attractions

Sites run by the National Park Service are among the most popular attractions and natural areas in the country. In 2018, more than 318 million people visited these sites, which include 61 National Parks and more than 350 other attractions. In 2018, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco, California, was the most popular site, with more than 15.2-million visitors. In second place was the Blue Ridge Parkway in the states of North Carolina and Virginia, with 14.7-million visitors. Other Top 10 attractions included the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and the Lincoln and Vietnam Veterans Memorials in Washington, DC. What makes an attraction popular? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about popular attractions and natural areas. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short film or video, documenting why one or more attraction is popular. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

5. Record-Breaking Seuss

Dr. Seuss characters are hugely popular in the world of children’s books. And now they have helped school children set a new world record. In honor of Dr. Seuss and National Reading Month, students in schools on opposite sides of the United States competed to break the Guinness World Record for most people dressing as Seuss characters at the same time. Both broke the existing record, but Fair Oaks Ranch Elementary School in California set the new one. A total of 1,063 Fair Oaks students dressed as Seuss characters, topping Broadneck Elementary School in the state of Maryland by 173 characters, according to the United Press International news service. Broadneck had 890 students dressed in character in its bid for the record. People do all sorts of unusual things to set new Guinness World Records. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effort that interests you. Then use what you read — and your imagination — to write an account of the effort in the style of a Dr. Seuss story. Read your accounts aloud — with expression!

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.