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For Grades 5-8 , week of Dec. 09, 2019

1. Cruelty Crackdown

Cruelty to animals is a problem in every state in the nation. Now a new national law will make it easier to punish people who are cruel to animals and, hopefully, reduce cruelty in the future. The new law — called the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act — has support from Republicans and Democrats and was signed by President Trump late last month. It targets violence causing “serious bodily injury” to animals and also bans animal fighting as a spectator sport. The law fills in the gaps between animal cruelty laws passed by individual states and makes it easier to pursue cases that cross state lines. Animal advocates hailed the new law as a “significant milestone” in the protection of animals from cruelty. In addition to passing laws, people work to protect wild and tame animals in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people working to protect animals. Use what you read to write a short editorial explaining why such efforts are important, and the biggest obstacles they face.

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

2.Tribute to Rosa

Rosa Parks became a hero to the civil rights movement in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in the city of Montgomery, Alabama. Her act of defiance launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott by African Americans and drew national attention to the injustice and inequality African Americans faced. Rosa Parks died at age 92 in 2005, but her influence is still being felt. This month, on the 64th anniversary of her bus protest, she was honored by the city of Montgomery by the unveiling of a statue in her honor. “This depiction will inspire future generations … to push toward the path of righteousness, strength, courage and equality,” said Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, who was elected this fall as the first African American mayor in the city’s history. Communities often honor people who have done great things or made great contributions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone you think deserves a community honor. Use what you read to write a proposal for honoring this person. Detail exactly what the honor would involve and why that would be appropriate for the person. Share with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

3. Deadly Pollution

Ocean pollution is a growing problem around the world, especially plastic products and discarded fishing gear. In the European nation of Scotland, both kinds of pollution may have played a role in the death of a young male sperm whale that became stranded and died on an island off Scotland’s northwestern coast. When wildlife officials did an autopsy on the dead whale, they found 220 pounds of plastic and fishing nets in the its stomach. While the waste had not blocked the whale’s intestine, a marine rescue group declared “This amount of plastic in the stomach is nonetheless horrific … and serves to demonstrate, yet again, the hazards that marine litter … can cause to marine life.” Many groups are working to reduce trash pollution in oceans and on land. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an anti-pollution effort of this kind. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor urging people to support this effort, and explaining why that will benefit wildlife, people or the environment.

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.

4. Crash Site Found

In recent years, the Asian nation of India has spent billions of dollars to develop a space program that can compete with the United States, Russia and the European Space Agency. After successfully launching an orbiter to explore the planet Mars, there was great excitement when India announced it would land a spacecraft on the Earth’s moon. Not surprisingly, there was great disappointment in India when the craft crashed as it was attempting to land and couldn’t be found. Now, thanks to the work of an amateur astronomer, the wreckage has been located. The astronomer, Shanmugam Subramaniam, found the remains of India’s moon craft while scanning satellite images of the moon for six to seven hours a day on two personal laptops. When he felt he had found the craft, he notified America’s NASA space agency, which confirmed the find. Had India been successful, it would have been just the fourth nation to land a craft on the moon. The United States, China and the former Soviet Union (Russia) have done it successfully. The missions of different space agencies are helping scientists learn more about the solar system, galaxies or deep space. In groups or pairs, use the newspaper and Internet to find stories about recent space missions undertaken by the United States, Russia, China and India. Write a paragraph for each one, telling what new information it is providing scientists.

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.

5. Wonder Woman

If you’re going to break into a house, you’d be wise not to choose the home of Willie Murphy of Rochester, New York. She is an award-winning bodybuilder, and at 82 years old she doesn’t back down from anyone. An intoxicated man found that out the hard way when he forced his way into her home late last month. Murphy went into full defense mode, and the impaired intruder never had a chance. First Murphy hit him so hard with a stool it broke in half, The Washington Post newspaper reported. Next, she poured a bottle of shampoo on his face. Then she started batting at him with a broom. “I’m alone, and I’m old,” Murphy told a local TV station. “Guess what? I’m tough.” After subduing the man, Murphy called police, but she declined to press charges because he was “not aware of what was going on.” “I did a number on that man,” she said. Senior citizens are living longer and more active lives, and they often do remarkable things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a senior doing something remarkable. Use what you read to write a letter to a senior citizen you know telling why the senior you read about was inspiring.

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