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For Grades 5-8 , week of Apr 04, 2022

1. More Minority Coaches

In the National Football League, 70 percent of the players are Black, yet only 39 percent of coaches are people of color. In an effort to correct that imbalance, the NFL has approved new diversity measures that include a requirement that each team have a minority or female assistant coach in a significant role on its offensive staff. The league also appointed a committee of outside advisers to assist in minority hiring efforts and approved a resolution endorsing more diversity in the ownership of teams. The NFL currently has just three Black head coaches among 32 teams, plus one of mixed race and two who are other minorities. At the next highest level of coaching, there are 15 defensive coordinators who are people of color, but just half that many on offense. “We clearly have a trend where our head coaches are coming from the offensive side of the ball in recent years,” said Art Rooney II, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers “And we clearly do not have as many minorities in the offensive coordinator positions. So without oversimplifying it, it’s really an effort to try to bring more talented minority coaches to the offensive side of the ball.” The NFL is seeking to increase opportunities for African Americans and other minorities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another business or organization that is seeking to improve opportunities for minorities. Use what you read to write a business or political column detailing what is being done, why it is needed and whether you think it will be successful. Share and discuss as a class.

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. Spring Haikus

Haiku poems are only three lines long, but they can pack a lot of emotion into a short space. A haiku (HY-koo) is also a challenge to write, because it has just five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third. Every spring in Washington, DC, columnist John Kelly of the Washington Post newspaper challenges readers to send in haikus they have written about spring, and he picks the best to print in his column. Not surprisingly, nature plays a big part in the spring haikus, with lines like “Frenzied flowers dip / Arching as the warm wind whips / Perfume scented waves.” Or “persistent robins / tug the threads from patchy snow /— unraveled blankets.” Sometimes, however, writers connect nature to news events in the world: “Windy days in spring / Make our cherry blossoms fall / Like tears for Ukraine.” In the newspaper or online, find and study photos showing signs of spring. Or look for spring-like scenes or events on your way to school. Use what you read to write a spring haiku poem (or two) of your own. Choose your words carefully for the best effect. Read your haikus together as a class. Draw pictures to go with them if you like, and post on a bulletin board in or outside your classroom.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; reading prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression on successive readings.

3. Art Help for Kids

The British artist known as Banksy has won fame around the world for his street art, his political activism and pranks he has thought up to attract attention. His art includes graffiti painted in public spaces and works protesting or commenting on war, politicians and other issues. A print of one of his most famous anti-war works went up for sale last month and the money raised will benefit the largest children’s hospital in war-torn Ukraine. The print, called “CND Soldiers,” sold for more than $106,000, and the seller said he would donate the money to the Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital, which treats more than 20,000 children a year in the city of Kyiv. The artwork was first painted as graffiti during an anti-war protest near the houses of Britain’s Parliament legislature in 2003 and turned into a limited-edition paper print two years later. An “incredibly generous client” put an unsigned copy up for sale at the MyArtBroker agency, so long as the proceeds went to benefit children and families in Ukraine. The artwork shows two heavily armed soldiers spray-painting a peace sign on a wall. Art can express opinions about the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the war in Ukraine or another issue that is important to you or your family. Use what you read to create an artwork showing your opinion about the news. Give your work an “opinionated” title and discuss with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. Free Gas

Gas prices are hitting record highs across the nation, but in the city of Chicago, Illinois a businessman has stepped up to help people who are feeling squeezed. Willie Wilson, who owns a medical supply company and produces a gospel music television program, has donated $1.2-million in free gas cards that people can use to fill up their tanks. Wilson, who is 73, initially offered $200,000 in assistance but when he realized there was greater need he added another $1-million. People who participate in the program get either a $50 gas card or a $50 fill-up at selected gas stations. Originally from the state of Louisiana, Wilson is a self-made businessman, the Washington Post reported. He started his work career as part of a cleaning crew at McDonald’s and worked his way up to owning restaurants himself. Today he wants to give back. “The need is great, and I want to help,” he said. “I’m proud of what we’ve done.” Successful people often make news by “giving back” to others or the community. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person who is doing this. Use what you read to write a public proclamation thanking this person on behalf of the community. Look up proclamations online to see how they are written. They often use the word “Whereas” to introduce each reason the person is being honored. Read your proclamation aloud for the class — with good expression!

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.

5. Pollen Season

When spring arrives, people love to see flowers bloom on trees and new leaves come out. But something else blooms at the same time those flowers and leaves open up — pollen. And pollen can cause great problems for people who are allergic to it. Pollen has always been a problem in spring, but it is getting worse. Across the nation, pollen outbursts are getting more intense, and they are starting earlier and lasting longer. Scientists say global warming is to blame. According to a recent study, the pollen season has lengthened by 20 days over the past three decades across North America, while pollen concentrations increased by 21 percent. A recent study found that pollen season could get much worse by the end of the century, starting as much as 40 days earlier in the spring and lasting up to 19 days longer than it does today. Pollen levels could also triple in some parts of the United States, scientists said. “When we look at what’s driving a lot of the … change, temperature plays a big role,” said the co-author of the study. Climate change is having great impact on plants, animals and people around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the effects on one plant, one animal and one group of people. Use what you read to create a poster or graphic organizer showing the effects side by side. Are there similarities among the effects?

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

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