For Grades 5-8 THE WEEK OF Mar. 15, 2021

1. Biden’s Relief Bill

Passage of President Biden’s $1.9-trillion Covid relief bill by the U.S. House and Senate will have huge impact on families, schools and communities across the nation. The measure, which the President signed into law late last week, would bring relief to individuals and businesses, provide a boost to the economy and offer “safety net” protections for poor families and children. It would provide Covid relief checks of up to $1,400 to individuals making $80,000 or less, federal unemployment payments of $300 per week through September 6, and a benefit of $300 per child for those age 5 and younger — and $250 per child ages 6 to 17. The Covid relief bill is getting a lot of attention because it offers a wide variety of assistance to Americans. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ways the bill will affect individuals, families, businesses and communities. Use what you read to write a short editorial detailing what you think the most significant effects will be, and why.

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.Vaccine Guidelines

All over the country, people are scrambling to get appointments for Covid 19 coronavirus shots. But what things can you do again once you get the shots? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidelines on how people should proceed after getting their vaccine shots. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people may: (A.) visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or physical distancing; (B.) visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household without masks or physical distancing, if the unvaccinated people are at low risk; (C.) skip quarantining if exposed to someone who has Covid 19 but does not display symptoms. The CDC stressed that people who are fully vaccinated are not in danger of getting the disease, but should still wear masks in public spaces, practice social distancing, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated public spaces and wash hands frequently. The new rules would allow fully vaccinated grandparents to visit their grandchildren, even if the grandchildren are not vaccinated. People are expressing many emotions after getting their Covid vaccinations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how people have reacted. Use photos from the newspaper and Internet to create an art collage showing the different emotions people are feeling. Give your collage a title that sums up the emotions and reactions.

Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.

3. Glow-in-the-Dark Sharks

Scientists have known for years that deep-sea creatures glow in the dark to find food or protect themselves in the pitch-black waters far beneath the surface of the ocean. Now they are discovering that land animals ranging from flying squirrels to duck-billed platypuses also glow when put under ultraviolet light. And they have just discovered three species of shark that glow in the dark due to “bio-luminescence.” Among them is the largest glow-in-the-dark species with a spine ever found on land or in the oceans. That honor goes to the kitefin shark, which grows to almost six feet in length and was discovered off the coast of the southern Pacific nation of New Zealand. The kitefin gives off a spectacular blue-green light that looks like something from a science fiction movie, scientists said in study published this month. Also giving off blue-green light are two tiny species of lantern sharks, the scientists said. Scientists are constantly learning new things about wildlife and sea life. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a new discovery. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend, describing the new discovery, why it is important and what you think is the most interesting thing about it.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

4. ‘March Madness’

This week the “March Madness” of college basketball begins, and fans all over the country are trying to predict which teams will win the NCAA basketball championships for men and women. One way they do this is by filling out NCAA “brackets” based on the teams picked for the tournament on Selection Sunday (for men) and Selection Monday (for women). Last March the tournaments were canceled due to the coronavirus emergency, so interest is especially high this year. The NCAA tournament is hugely popular for sports fans and also for math lovers because it is loaded with opportunities to build math skills. Study the statistics in the box scores for NCAA games in the newspaper or online this week. Use what you find to make up four problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. For added challenge, make up a problem for algebra, if you are taking that course.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; representing and solving problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Equality in Education

March is Women's History Month, a time when the nation celebrates the achievements of women across America. Many of those achievements are occurring in business, where more and more women are breaking through the “glass ceiling” and achieving top leadership roles. Other women are playing a greater and greater role in career fields that will be important in the years ahead. Pretend you are a parent of a daughter who will be graduating from high school in the next five years. Look through the stories, photos and ads in the newspaper for information about career fields that will be important in the work world over the next 20 years. Write a letter to your daughter recommending which of these fields she should pursue, and why. Finish by discussing with family, friends or classmates which of these fields might have been blocked to women 25 or 50 years ago.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.