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for Grades 5-8

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Dec. 14, 2020
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For Grades 5-8 , week of Dec. 14, 2020

1. Holiday Giving

Each year during the holiday season, people make donations to organizations that do good in the community or the world. These organizations may help children, wildlife, poor people or others in need of support. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about organizations that work to do good in your community, the nation or the world. Pretend you have a lot of money to donate this holiday season. Pick one local organization, one national organization and one worldwide organization you would donate to. For each, write a paragraph explaining why you would support the group’s efforts.

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.

2. Olympic Breaking

Breakdancing has long been a creative expression of hip-hop culture in the United States and around the world. Now “breaking,” as it was originally called, will be an Olympic sport, starting with the 2024 Summer Games in the European city of Paris, France. Breaking began as a form of street dancing in United States in the 1970s and spread around the world with the popularity of hip-hop and rap music. With its athletic and demanding moves, it now has been recognized as a sport as well as an art form by the International Olympic Committee. At the 2024 games both men and women (b-boys and b-girls) will compete in judged competition similar to some gymnastics and ice skating events. The Olympic Committee chose to include breaking to expand the audience for the Olympics with younger and urban audiences. Hip-hop culture has had great influence on the worlds of music, dance, fashion and art. In the newspaper or online, find examples and study or read about them. Use what you find to write an art, music or culture column examining how the influence of hip-hop culture has grown and how that has enriched communities across America.

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.

3. Drone Planting

Small drone aircraft are now being used for everything from police work to air photography to delivering packages. In the West Coast states of California and Oregon, they are also being used to plant trees in areas destroyed by wildfires. A company based in Seattle, Washington has developed packaged “seed vessels” that can be dropped by drone into forest areas destroyed by fire. The packages developed by the DroneSeed company contain fertilizers, nutrients, pest control chemicals and fibers that absorb water so that the seeds can be planted without burying them in the ground, CNN News reports. The seed packets are delivered by “swarms” of up to five eight-foot drones working together. They already are being used in areas destroyed by the huge August Complex Fire in California and the Holiday Farm Fire in Oregon and could be used in other regions in the months ahead. Drones are not only being used in the United States. In the Southern Pacific nation of Australia, drones are being used to drop seeds for gum trees in areas burned by deadly wildfires. Gum trees provide food for Australia’s famous koala bears. Drones are being used in more and more ways to help people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone using a drone in a new way. Write a paragraph telling how the drone allowed the person to do something he/she could not do before and why that is an improvement over the way things were done in the past.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

4. Bike Fishing

Magnet fishing is growing in popularity because it lets people find interesting metal objects in underwater areas. In a neighborhood outside the European city of Paris, France, two “magnet fishers” recently had a haul that surprised even veterans of the activity. Using powerful magnets, two magnet fishers pulled out 51 rental bikes from a canal in a single day. “It was incredible; we brought up 20 in the first half hour,” fisherman Clement Charret told the AFP News service. While the bike haul was impressive for its size, Charret said he and his partner have found odder things. On one occasion their magnets latched onto a motor scooter and they have also found “a bayonet from World War I and a revolver pistol from the era of Napoleon III,” who ruled France in the mid- to late-1800s. Clement Charret and his partner go magnet fishing for fun, but also to clean up trash and trash pollution. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other innovative things people, groups or communities are doing to reduce trash pollution. Use what you read to write an editorial suggesting ways your community or state could try some of these ideas to reduce trash. Or suggest an idea of your own that you would like to see tried.

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. Really Big Boots

One of the keys to staying safe during the coronavirus epidemic is to maintain a social distance of six feet apart from other people. In the European nation of Romania, a shoemaker tried to solve that problem earlier this year by creating three-foot, Size 75 shoes that were so long that people wearing them couldn’t get closer than six feet. Now shoemaker Grigore Lup has followed up by making winter boots in the same Size 75. He said he decided to make boots because Romania, like other nations, is facing a second wave of the virus. The boots, which are tall and fur-lined, use “as much leather as three regular pairs of shoes,” Lup told Reuters news service. In addition to people who want social distancing shoes, Lup says he also has gotten orders from people who just have really big feet. People, businesses and communities are trying many different things to get people to maintain safe social distancing. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different things that are being tried. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor analyzing the benefits and disadvantages of different approaches.

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