For Grades 5-8 THE WEEK OF Nov. 02, 2020

1. Election 2020

Tuesday is Election Day, and this year’s election is like none in the nation’s history. Because more than 90-million people cast votes early by mail or in person at early voting sites, it will take longer to count the votes than in most years. Many of those votes will have to be counted by hand, because they were not cast on machines. Unless there is an overwhelming majority for one candidate on election night, it could be days before voters know whether President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden won the race for president, or who won hotly contested races for U.S. Senate and the U.S. House around the country. Even then the results may be challenged with calls for a recount or legal action in the courts. In the days leading up to Election Day, there was much discussion of whether the election results would be challenged by either the Republicans or Democrats. After Tuesday’s voting, use the newspaper and Internet to read stories about planned or possible challenges in one or more states. Use what you read to write a political column giving your views on whether there are grounds for challenges or recounts. Discuss with family, classmates and friends.

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.

2. It’s the Dodgers!

For the first time in 32 years, the Los Angeles Dodgers have won the World Series and claimed the World Championship of Major League Baseball. The Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to win the series 4 games to 2 and claim the seventh championship in team history. The Dodgers’ win brought to an end one of the most unusual seasons in baseball, when the coronavirus shortened the season to 60 games and re-arranged the playoffs. It also was the second championship for Los Angeles in a month, following the Lakers’ triumph in the National Basketball Association playoffs. Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager was the Most Valuable Player for the World Series after recording a .400 batting average, hitting two home runs, driving in five teammates for runs and scoring seven times himself. Starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw won two games. Due to the coronavirus, all six games of the World Series were played at a neutral site in Arlington, Texas. The Dodgers won their first World Series in 1955, when the team played in Brooklyn, New York and Jackie Robinson was one of their stars. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other teams, businesses or organizations that have been successful over a long period of time. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper analyzing what it takes for an organization to be successful for a long time.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

3. Plastic Whale Protest

Plastic pollution is a problem all over the world, because plastic bags and containers take more than a thousand years to break down and decompose. And even when they do, they cause problems as “microplastics” that get into the food chain affecting animals and people. This is especially true in the world’s oceans, where millions of fish and other species ingest microplastics either directly or by eating smaller species in the food chain. To call attention to plastic and microplastic pollution, the Greenpeace organization in the Southern Pacific nation of the Phillippines used a dramatic art installation to raise awareness about the problem. Greenpeace Philippines installed a 50-foot artwork of a blue whale on a beach south of the city of Manila. It was made entirely of plastic recovered from the ocean, and showed its mouth filled with plastic ocean trash. The mouths and stomachs of real whales that wash up dead on beaches are often filled with plastic, Greenpeace said. “We … demand that our leaders initiate bold steps to address plastics pollution,” a Greenpeace spokesman said. People often use public displays of art to call attention to problems or issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person or group doing this. Use what you read to write an editorial discussing why the artwork is an effective way to highlight the issue and get people talking about it. Finish by drawing an editorial cartoon to go with your editorial, showing the power of art to engage people. Look up editorial cartoons online to see how they are drawn, if necessary.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

4. Foot Pinball

Like many businesses, a games arcade in Seattle, Washington had to close down because of the coronavirus epidemic. The Add-a-Ball Amusements business made good use of its time, however. While it was closed for eight months, it came up with a way to play pinball without using your hands. Employees developed foot pedals that players can use instead of hand controls so that they can avoid risks of getting or spreading the virus. The pedals will be a new experience for players, the owner said, but it will keep them playing. Inventions often are developed to meet a need or solve a problem. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about new inventions and what needs/problems they were developed to address. Then read stories about a problem or need you would like to address. Brainstorm an idea for an invention that could address this need or problem. Create a PowerPoint presentation explaining the need/problem and how your invention would address it. Be sure to discuss any obstacles you might face developing your invention. Present your PowerPoint to family, classmates or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Catholic Milestone

As leader of the world’s Catholics, Pope Francis has not been shy about speaking out or taking the Church in new directions. He has spoken out against nuclear weapons, urged nations to protect the environment and even introduced a Click to Pray app that enables young people to pray together through their smart phones. This fall the Pope made history in a way significant to America’s Catholics. He named Washington, DC, Archbishop Wilton Gregory to be the first African American cardinal in the United States. Cardinals are top leaders in the Catholic Church, because they advise the Pope and vote to select a new Pope when there is an opening. The promotion of Gregory from archbishop to cardinal is significant, because Black people have long been under-represented in the leadership of the U.S. Catholic Church. Black Americans have made gains in many career fields, but they still are under-represented in others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about fields in which Black people are still under-represented. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor calling attention to a field in which this is the case and suggest what can be done to remedy the situation.

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.