For Grades 5-8 THE WEEK OF Mar. 22, 2021

1. Grammy She-roes

March is Women’s History Month, and women dominated the major categories in this year’s Grammy Awards for musical excellence. Beyoncé won four awards, bringing her career total to 28 — more than any other female performer ever. Megan Thee Stallion won three awards: best new artist, and best rap performance and best rap song for her song “Savage.” Taylor Swift won album of the year for “Folklore,” while Billie Eilish took record of the year for “Everything I Wanted,” Even Beyoncé’s 9-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, took home a Grammy: best music video for “Brown Skin Girl” (which she won with her mother and WizKid). Women were prominent winners at this year’s Grammy Awards. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other awards competitions in which women are making a mark. Use what you read to write an editorial or personal column detailing why the women’s achievements are significant.

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. Safe School Distancing

Across the nation, communities have been looking for ways to get students back into school for full-time, in-person learning. For many, one of the roadblocks has been how to arrange classrooms so that students can maintain safe social distancing. Up to now, medical experts have recommended that students stay 6 feet apart. A new study, however, suggests that staying 3 feet apart may be enough, as long as students follow other safety practices such as wearing masks and washing hands frequently. A 3-foot minimum would give teachers and schools more flexibility for setting up classrooms when there is limited space. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories and photos of classrooms set up to re-open safely and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Then use what you have found to create a scale drawing of a classroom for your school that would keep students 3 feet apart. Pretend your classroom is 30 feet wide and 40 feet deep and will hold 25 students. Don’t forget to leave room for the teacher’s desk!

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; solving problems involving scale drawings of geometric figures.

3. Nesting Dinosaur

The great thing about being a fossil hunter is that there are always new discoveries to be made. In the Asian nation of China, scientists have found the first fossil of a dinosaur sitting on a nest of eggs, with fossilized embryos visible inside eggs in the nest. The 70-million-year-old fossil was a species known as an oviraptorosaur (OH-vih-rap-TOR-o-saur), a group of feathered, bird-like theropod dinosaurs. The fossil consists of an incomplete skeleton of an adult oviraptorid crouched in a bird-like posture over a group of at least 24 eggs. At least seven of the eggs contain bones or partial skeletons of unhatched oviraptorid embryos. Oviraptorosaurs were believed to be meat-eaters, though they may also have eaten plants. They walked on two legs and could be up to six feet long. Dinosaur discoveries always make news because they give scientists new information about species that lived millions of years ago. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a new dinosaur discovery. Use what you read to prepare a two-minute news report detailing what was discovered, how the discovery was made and why it is significant. Read your report aloud with a timer to make sure it does run longer than two minutes.

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

4. The Value of Diaries

Keeping journals or diaries gives students a great way to practice expressive writing. In them they can record their feelings about what is going on in their lives, their favorite things to do and what they’d like to achieve in the future. In the Canadian province New Brunswick, a sixth grade teacher assigned diary writing In the late 1970s and 1980s as a creative writing exercise. Now, more than 30 years later, the teacher wants to return the diaries and give his former students a glimpse of what they were like as junior high students. Hugh Brittain, who is now retired, intended to give the diaries back to students at their high school graduations, but many did not get delivered, CNN News reported. When he retired, he couldn’t bring himself to throw the diaries out. Now he has turned to social media to get the diaries back in the hands of their writers. He posted pictures of the diaries to a local Facebook page and has reconnected with students all over Canada and the United States. “I was so surprised but very moved that he just really cared and that he kept that work,” one student said. Keeping a diary or journal is a great way to build writing skills. In the newspaper or online, closely read stories that interest you over the next week. Keep a diary of your reactions to the stories and why they made you feel that way. For each day, also record something that happened in your personal life and how that made you feel. Re-read your diary at the end of the week. Or keep going with new diary entries. Compare diaries with friends, if you like.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Navigating Covid

To attract travelers and guests, hotels around the world offer a variety of “freebies” to get people to make reservations. One of the most popular this year is a free Covid coronavirus test. With more and more nations requiring negative tests for international travel, resorts from the United States to Mexico to Jamaica to Bermuda are offering tests as “perks” for guests who are arriving or leaving their countries. Many resorts have even created a staff position of “covid navigator” to help guests deal with regulations from different countries. “It’s an extra hat I wear,” one told the Washington Post newspaper. As coronavirus regulations ease, international travel is starting to rebound. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about countries getting ready to welcome travelers from the United States and other nations. Use what you read to write a travel column offering advice on the best places for Americans to travel at this time.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.