For Grades 5-8 THE WEEK OF July 08, 2019

1. Recycle for Education

Like many developing countries, the African nation of Nigeria faces challenges ranging from educating its children to cleaning up the environment. An innovative program started by a non-profit organization is addressing both problems — and getting results. The Africa Cleanup Initiative (ACI) is encouraging families to fight pollution by letting them use recycled plastic bottles to pay the tuition for their children’s schools. Parents participating in the RecyclesPay program get tuition credits based on the number of plastic bottles they bring in for recycling, CNN News reports. With this method for paying tuition, parents have more money available for school supplies, books or clothing. Located on the west coast of Africa, Nigeria is ranked number 11 in the world for plastic pollution. The RecyclesPay program in Nigeria is addressing two problems at once — education and pollution. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another program that is addressing two problems at the same time. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short video or documentary film. Write an outline for your video, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

2. Moon Landing Video

On July 20, the United States will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first landing by humans on the moon. Also on July 20 three original videotapes of that landing will be put up for sale by the world famous Sotheby’s auction house. The images in the videos include astronaut Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon’s surface, plus the planting of the American flag by Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The videos were lost by America’s NASA space agency in 1976 when they were accidentally sold at a government surplus auction to an intern worker named Gary George. George paid $217.77 for 65 boxes of videotapes, including those of the moon landing. He didn’t look at them for years, but when he did he discovered he owned the sharpest images of the landing ever recorded. The 50th anniversary of the first moon landing will be celebrated in many ways by NASA and communities around the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different celebrations. Use what you read to write a short editorial for the newspaper analyzing what you think will be the most effective or memorable celebrations.

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. Pageant Groundbreakers

Beauty pageants have been around for nearly 100 years in America, and for many years they shared the country’s history of racial discrimination. For years, women of color were banned from participating, and it wasn’t until 1983 that Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America. This year women of color are making a statement in the country’s top beauty pageants. For the first time, the reigning Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA are all black women. And this month the Miss Tennessee pageant crowned its first black champion in its 80-year history. The current champions are diverse and accomplished women. Miss USA Cheslie Kryst is a lawyer who does free work for prisoners. Miss America Nia Franklin is an opera singer and arts advocate. And Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris is a model who made a black-pride cultural statement by competing with her natural hair. African American women are achieving greater and greater success in more and more career fields. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about black women who are doing this. Use what you read to write a personal opinion column discussing how these women are role models who are inspiring other women. Share your column with family and friends and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. Iguana Invasion

Invasive species are a danger to the environment because they upset the balance of nature. They often have no natural predators and overrun the habitat they settle in. In the state of Florida, iguanas are the latest species to cause problems. Native to Central America and countries in the Caribbean Sea, these reptiles have moved into Florida as the climate has gotten warmer. And they are multiplying rapidly — so rapidly that state wildlife officials are urging residents to kill them. The iguanas, which can grow up to five feet long and weigh nearly 20 pounds, are damaging canals, sea walls and even building foundations, officials said. They also are destroying landscaping and plants, some of them endangered, and leave a lot of poop in people’s yards. They also can carry the disease salmonella. “If we don’t so something soon, they could literally take over,” one biologist said. Invasive species can cause great damage to the natural environment of communities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an endangered species that is doing this. Write a paragraph describing the damage that is being done, and how communities are responding.

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. Piano People

In communities across the nation, people celebrate the arts in many ways. In the city of Rochester, New York, this summer, volunteers used painting skills to call attention to a local music institution. The volunteers gathered at an intersection in front of the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music and repainted the crosswalks to look like the keys of a piano. The group painting project attracted people in their teens and people in their 80s, many of whom had no painting experience. The city gave its blessing and closed off the street. And when the four piano crosswalks were completed, there was an immediate sense of community pride. Participants posted to Facebook, Instagram and other social media to express excitement at what they had achieved in the name of art. “I’m still pinching myself,” said one organizer. Communities celebrate the arts in many ways — and use art to celebrate their communities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the ways people do this. Then brainstorm a way you could use the arts in some way to celebrate your community. Your art could be painting, music, sculpture, performance or something else. Share ideas with family and friends.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.