For Grades 5-8 THE WEEK OF Mar. 29, 2021

1. Bald Eagle Success

Bald eagles have long played an important role in America, as symbol of the United States and, before that, as a sacred species for Native American peoples. Their numbers were plentiful in the early 1800s, but hunting, loss of habitat and use of the DDT pesticide caused their population to decline dangerously from 1870 to 1970. There were only 417 breeding pairs in the nation’s lower 48 states in 1963, forcing the federal government to place bald eagles on the Endangered Species List and ban the use of DDT, which made the shells of eagle eggs too fragile to hatch. Today, bald eagles have rebounded dramatically in a “historic conservation success story,” federal officials say. A new report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found that the population of bald eagles has quadrupled since 2009, with more than 316,700 bald eagles, and more than 71,400 nesting pairs present in the lower 48 states during the 2019 breeding season, CNN News reports. Bald eagles were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007 but still are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Wildlife protection efforts allowed bald eagles to escape the Endangered Species List. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another species on the list. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing why the species is endangered, what is being done about it and how long experts think it will take for it to recover.

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. For the Love of Poetry

Thursday is April 1, which marks the beginning of National Poetry Month. This is the 25th year of the yearly April celebration, which was launched by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, families, teachers, librarians, bookstores, and, of course, poets taking part. Poetry has gotten a lot of attention this year, starting with the dramatic poem written and delivered by 23-year-old Amanda Gorman at President Biden’s inauguration in January. Poetry also finds expression in songs, raps, rhymes and spoken word performances. Many of these poems, including Gorman’s inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb,” are inspired by or based on current events. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an issue you feel strongly about. Think like a poet and write a poem expressing your feelings, emotions and thoughts about this issue. Your poem does not need to rhyme, but it should include powerful and vivid verbs, adjectives and adverbs to convey your emotions. Read your poem aloud for family, friends and classmates — with emotion!

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; reading prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression on successive readings.

3. Trailblazer

In the world of business, women have long complained about “glass ceiling” practices that have prevented them from breaking into top management jobs at major corporations and companies. That has been especially true for women of color. Now Rosalind “Roz” Brewer is breaking new ground, as the chief executive officer of the Walgreen’s drugstore company. In her new role, Brewer is the nation’s only Black woman serving as the head of a Fortune 500 company and just the third in history. Fortune 500 companies are the 500 largest in the nation, and only four are led by African American CEOs, including Brewer. Before her history-making appointment, the 59-year-old Brewer was a vice president at Walmart, the CEO of Sam’s Club (which is owned by Walmart) and chief operations officer and group president for Starbucks. In all her positions, she has pushed for greater diversity in the corporate world. “You have to speak up and speak out,” she has said. “I try to use my platform for that." Women of color are breaking new ground in many fields. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one woman of color who has earned success. Use what you read, and additional research, to create a poster or PowerPoint presentation detailing the challenges this woman had to overcome to succeed.

Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

4. ‘Space Junk’

Space agencies around the world have achieved incredible things launching rockets, satellites and explorer craft into space. One thing they have not achieved is preventing “space junk” from these missions from endangering future flights. When satellites and rockets break apart or die after their missions, their pieces float around in orbit above the Earth as “space junk” that can hit and damage new satellites or spacecraft. The European Space Agency and a number of private companies are working on plans to collect and eliminate “space junk.” A mission by the Japanese space company Astroscale, for example, has a plan to deal with the problem by using magnets to collect the debris. Astroscale launched a test spacecraft this month to see how the craft could be used to reduce the amount of junk orbiting the Earth. If successful, a craft will be designed to collect junk from future satellites with magnets. Space missions are designed to solve practical problems as well as to gather knowledge. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a mission seeking to solve a problem. Use what you read to write a paragraph detailing how the problem came about, how the mission seeks to deal with it and what success it has had so far.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Stopping the Invaders

Invasive species are problems in many states, because they invade natural areas and threaten native plants and animals. Wildlife invaders are particularly destructive, because they do not have natural predators and can breed out of control. In the United States, one state is battling more invasive species than any other. Now the state of Florida is cracking down, especially on reptiles like the Burmese python and green iguanas, the Washington Post newspaper reports. The state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has voted to ban possession or breeding of these and 14 other species that people buy as pets and often release into the wild when they get too big. Green iguanas have overrun many residential neighborhoods, and the Burmese pythons have become such a problem in the Everglades wetland and National Park that the state has sponsored a yearly hunt to reduce the population. “We have to put our foot down,” said the chairman of the wildlife commission. Invasive species cause problems that are difficult to solve. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one effort to deal with an invasive species. Use what you read to write an analysis of how effective you think the effort will be, and why.

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