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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 06, 2020

1. Miss America: Scientist

For most of its 98-year history, the Miss America pageant has been a competition focused on talent and beauty. Contestants posed in evening gowns and bathing suits and sang, danced or played instruments for the judges. In the last two years, the pageant has re-invented itself, dropping the bathing suit and gown competitions and focusing more on character, careers and academics. In that vein, this year’s winner is the perfect new Miss America. Miss Virginia Camille Schrier won the crown — and stole the show — by performing a chemistry experiment in the talent segment. “We need to show that Miss America can be a scientist and that a scientist can be Miss America,” Schrier said. “It’s my mission to show kids that science is fun, relevant and easy to understand.” Schools and businesses are encouraging more women to choose careers in science, technology, engineering and math — the STEM subjects that will be more and more important in the coming years. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a woman succeeding in one of these fields. Use what you read to write a short editorial detailing how this woman’s success could encourage other women to enter the sciences — and why that is important.

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. He Hit for 100

In college basketball, most teams rarely top 100 points in a game — if ever. But this season a single player hit the 100-point mark in a small-college contest that is drawing nationwide attention. J.J. Culver, the older brother of NBA rookie Jarrett Culver of the Minnesota Timberwolves, hit the “century mark” for Wayland Baptist College in Plainview, Texas, in an NAIA game against Southwestern Adventist University. The NAIA — the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics — is a college athletics association for small colleges and universities across North America. In setting a new school record, J.J. Culver scored 51 points in the first half, one more than the previous record. Culver is first college player to hit for 100 points in a game since Jack Taylor did it twice for Grinnell College in the NCAA’s Division III in 2012 and 2013. Culver is also just the second NAIA player to score 100 points in a game, after Clarence “Bevo” Francis of Rio Grande College in 1954. Athletes often do extraordinary things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an outstanding achievement by an athlete. Use what you read and other resources to write a sports column detailing the skills and training the athlete needed to achieve his/her feat — and how the achievement will be remembered 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.

3. Trapped by Fire

During the summer and fall, deadly wildfires caused vast damage to California and other states in the American West. Summer has now moved to the Southern Hemisphere due to the tilt of the Earth on its axis, and wildfires are ravaging the nation of Australia. Thousands of acres in Australia’s wild “bush” areas have been burned, and last week fires trapped tourists and beachgoers on the shore in a tourist town on the nation’s southeast coast. Thousands of people in the seaside town of Mallacoota were forced to seek safety on the beach and even in boats as deadly blazes closed in, the Washington Post newspaper reported. Officials had to use navy ships and military aircraft to bring water, food and gas to towns cut off by the fires. Australia is in the midst of one of its worst fire seasons, with record temperatures topping 100 degrees or more. Wildfires cause tremendous damage to homes, communities and the environment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the wildfires in Australia. Use what you read to write a news story describing the damage that the fires have caused and what will be biggest challenges for the area to recover.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. A Ride for Astronauts

Since the United States ended its space shuttle program in 2011, the NASA space agency has been looking for new ways to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Two private companies have been working to develop spacecraft to carry U.S. astronauts, and this month one of them could take a huge step toward making it happen. On January 11, the Space X company is scheduled to conduct an un-crewed test of a key safety system for its Crew Dragon spacecraft. The system known as an in-flight abort system is designed to protect astronauts should there be an emergency during a launch. The other company developing a craft to transport astronauts — Boeing —experienced problems with its Starliner craft during its first un-crewed test flight in December. More and more private companies are getting involved in space travel and exploration. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one company’s efforts. Use what you read to write a business column examining what the company is doing and the challenges it faces to be successful.

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.

5. That’s an Old Story

Markings on the walls of caves were among the earliest ways humans communicated visually. Cave paintings and drawings depicted how they lived, what they believed in and how they interacted with nature. A discovery in the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia reveals how they used cave art to tell stories as well. The artwork, which dates back 44,000 years, is the oldest example of people using art to tell a story, archaeologists report. Drawn in red pigment, the art shows humanlike figures hunting pigs and horned wild animals. The artwork predates the famous charcoal cave art found in Europe by thousands of years, the Washington Post reported. “It’s quite amazing,” said the author of a study reporting the discovery. “It’s a narrative scene, and it’s the first time we see that in the rock art.” Artworks often are used to tell a story. So do modern photographs. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photograph that tells a story about what is happening to people, places, animals or the environment. Use what you see to tell the story shown in the photo in your own words. Share stories as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing visual and textual evidence when writing or speaking.