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For Grades 5-8 , week of Nov. 18, 2019

1. Holiday Connections

The holiday season in November and December is a time for reaching out to people you care about. Many do that by sending holiday cards, and a grandmother in the state of New Hampshire is doing it in a big way. Make that a VERY big way. Laura Landerman-Garber plans to send out 100,000 holiday cards this year to cheer up soldiers serving in America’s five military branches. She’s doing it through the non-profit program she founded called the Holiday Cards for Our Military Challenge, and she’s getting help from churches, synagogues, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and politicians, she told CNN News. Her program started as a family tradition 16 years ago, when she told family members at Thanksgiving they couldn’t have any turkey until they had written cards to military members. She called it her “ticket to turkey” program and it took off from there. Laura Landerman-Garber’s holiday cards program is a way to cheer up members of the U.S. military who are away from home during the holidays. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other efforts to cheer members of the military during the holidays. Write a short editorial calling attention to several efforts and telling why people should support them.

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. Call for Help

Advances in technology are making it possible to help people in more and more ways. In the state of New Jersey this fall, a new Apple Watch rescued a pair of hikers who had been injured and stranded in a fall. The watch automatically called 911 when 28-year-old James Prudenciano and his partner tumbled off a trail in Hartshorne Woods Park and were stranded on a ledge 30 feet below. Prudenciano fractured his back in the fall and when he didn’t move on the ledge his watch automatically called for help. Prudenciano had recently bought the watch and had turned on the fall detection feature, NBC News reported. Apple says Series 4 watches and above can detect hard falls and will ask users if they want to call emergency services. If a user doesn’t respond or move after more than a minute, the watches call for help automatically and give a location. Three agencies responded to Prudenciano’s fall, according to Middletown Township Police. Advances in technology are changing the way people live and work. In the newspaper or online, find and study a story or ad involving a technology advance that is doing this. Use what you read or study to write a consumer column detailing that the technology advance makes possible and how that is an improvement over ways things were done in the past. Share with the class and discuss.

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

3. Run, Nick, Run

You could call Nick Butter the Marathon Man. The runner from the European nation of England has run 592 marathons in his life, and this month he did something that no one has ever done before. When he completed a marathon in the European nation of Greece, he became the first person in history finish a marathon in all 196 countries recognized by the United Nations organization. In making history the 30-year-old Butter competed in some official marathons but he also ran the 26.2-mile marathon distance on his own in some countries. “I was bitten by a dog, I was mugged, I was robbed at knifepoint, I was put in a cell,” he told CNN News. He also raised more than $83,000 for prostate cancer research in honor of a man he met running a race in Africa’s Sahara Desert who had been diagnosed with non-curable prostate cancer. Athletes often do astounding or unusual feats. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an athlete doing something rare or amazing. Pretend you are going to interview this person for a television program. Write out five questions you would ask to learn more about how the person came up with the idea, and why you would want to know the answers. Then write where you would conduct the interview and why you would choose that setting.

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. Use what you read to

4. Fanged Mouse-Deer

An exotic species believed to have gone extinct in the 1990s has been rediscovered in the southeast Asian nation of Vietnam. A fanged, miniature “mouse-deer” known as the silver-backed chevrotain was filmed in the wild by a “camera trap” set by the Global Wildlife Conservation group. The mouse-deer, which are about the size of a domestic cat, had not been observed by scientists since 1990. Now they have been observed in hundreds of photos and videos, confirming they still exist in the wild. The shy creatures weigh less than 10 pounds and appear to walk on the tips of their hooves, scientists said. They also have two tiny fangs, which are larger in males. “For so long this species has seemingly only existed as part of our imagination,” said a spokesman for the conservation group. “Discovering that it is … still out there is the first step in ensuring we don't lose it again.” Discoveries involving rare or endangered animals are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one of these rare animals. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, telling what challenges this animal species faces and what people can do to help.

Common Core State Standards: Citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

5. A Climate Change First

Global warming and climate change are problems facing countries all over the world. Now the European nation of Italy has done something about it that no other country has done. Starting next year, Italy will become the first nation on Earth to require that students be taught a course on climate change and sustainable development in all public schools. The goal is to “make the Italian education system the first education system that puts the environment and society at the core of everything we learn in school,” Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti told Reuters news service. Under the plan, students will take a climate-change-related course one hour a week (or 33 hours per year). In addition, subjects such as geography, math and physics will now include issues involving climate and sustainable development. Officials in many nations are taking steps to increase people’s understanding of climate change, global warming and their effects. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these efforts. Use what you read to write a letter to the superintendent of schools in your city or district, outlining climate issues or approaches you would like to see taught in your schools.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing visual and textual evidence when writing.