For Grades K-4 , week of May 23, 2022

1. Seeking NATO Security

For more than 70 years, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has served as a counterbalance to the power of Russia, and before that the Soviet Union. NATO has been in the news a lot this year, because Russia said it invaded Ukraine in part to keep it from joining NATO, whose members have pledged to defend each other from outside forces. Now two nations that previously have been neutral — Sweden and Finland — have formally applied to join NATO in the wake of Russian aggression in Ukraine. The application has been hailed by NATO leaders as “a historic step” in the history of the organization that was formed following World War II. The applications by Finland and Sweden must be approved by NATO’s 30 member nations — 28 nations on the continent of Europe plus the United States and Canada in North America. Approval would ordinarily take more than a year, but observers say the process could be fast-tracked because of Russian aggression in Ukraine. Finland shares an 810-mile land border with Russia and Sweden shares a 340-mile border with Finland. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO has gotten new attention because its members have pledged to aid each other militarily, politically and diplomatically. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about NATO and the Ukraine war. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing the renewed importance of NATO in Europe.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. ‘Shoot Cameras Not Guns’

All across the nation this spring, gun violence has caused fear and heartache for families and communities. In the state of Indiana, a program in the city of Indianapolis is trying to reduce gun deaths in an unusual way — by teaching kids to “Shoot Cameras Not Guns.” The program offered by the nonprofit group Purpose 4 My Pain seeks to keep teens and preteens off the streets and away from potential violence by teaching them how to make movies. And not just any movies — movies that connect with their lives. “Instead of picking up a gun, pick up a camera,” program founder DeAndra Dycus told WRTV news. “Show your truth, show who you are and dominate it.” Dycus created the program with her husband, Eric, and every Saturday he opens his film studio to students who want to learn about moviemaking. When the films have been completed, they will be shown at a local movie theater. “There are so many out here who … are looking for someone to help them express their ideas,” DeAndra Dycus says. “So I say just go do it.” Movies often tell the real-life stories of people. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about movies that have done this. Then brainstorm an idea for a movie that would “show your truth” and tell a story about you, your family or your neighborhood. Write an outline for your movie. Then write the opening scene, including images you would show. Share ideas as a class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

3. Out of Russia

McDonald’s is the world’s largest restaurant chain, with outlets in nearly 120 countries. As a result of the war in Ukraine, it soon will have operations in one fewer nation. McDonald’s has announced it intends to sell its business in Russia as a result of the war and turn nearly 850 restaurants over to local or new owners. The sale will end more than 30 years of McDonald’s operations in Russia and affect more than 60,000 Russian workers. In a statement, the burger chain said the “humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the … unpredictable operating environment [in Russia], have led McDonald’s to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values,” CNN News reported. “We have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values. And our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the Arches shining there.” Once the sale is finalized, the Russian restaurants will no longer be allowed to use the McDonald’s name, arches, logo or menu. Many large companies are pulling out of Russia as a result of the invasion of Ukraine. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different companies that are doing this. Use what you read to write a business column analyzing which actions by companies will have the biggest impact on Russia and its economy.

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.

4. ‘Jurassic’ Fossil Sale

In the “Jurassic Park” movies, velociraptors were deadly dinosaurs that hunted with speed, smarts and a fearsome claw on each foot. In real life velociraptors were not quite like the movie version. But a species that inspired the movie killers made headlines this month when a nearly complete fossil of it was sold at an auction. The fossil was of a species known as “Deinonychus antirrhopus” that was found in the state of Montana in 2013. It had the deadly claw of the movie velociraptors on its rear legs and lived 115 to 108 million years ago. (In the ancient Greek language “Deinonychus” is pronounced “die-NON-i-kus” and means “terrible claw.”) The 9-foot-long fossil that was auctioned off consisted of 126 fossilized bones and is the most complete skeleton of Deinonychus ever found, according to the Christie’s organization that ran the sale. It sold for a whopping $12.4-million — more than double the $4-million to $6-million that had been predicted. Dinosaur fossils reveal a great deal about species that lived long ago. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a dinosaur fossil has been discovered or is on display at a museum. Use what you read to write a letter to a younger student telling why this fossil is important to scientists who study dinosaurs. Remember to use simple language that younger readers would understand.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. What a Marathoner!

At 26.2 miles, the marathon distance race is the most challenging in running. So how challenging must it be to run 104 marathons in 104 days? With just half of a left leg? Yet that is what an amputee athlete from the state of Arizona did this spring, setting an unofficial women’s world record for marathons run on consecutive days. Jacky Hunt-Broersma, who lost her left leg below the knee to a rare form of cancer, started her quest in January and finished at the end of April. She ran on traditional courses, loop tracks and treadmills, using a carbon-fiber, replacement-leg prosthesis called a running blade. All in all she covered 2,724.8 miles — almost the distance between Los Angeles, California and New York City— and raised $200,000 from online supporters. She will use the money to buy running blades for other amputee runners (they can cost more than $10,000 each). In a journal she said she hopes her effort will inspire others and noted that running has “given me courage, strength, friendship and confidence to be who I am.” People often overcome physical challenges to do amazing things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has done this. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling how this person’s achievement could inspire others.

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.