For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 03, 2022

1. Hurricane Ian

The state of Florida and other southern states are recovering this week from the destruction and devastation caused by Hurricane Ian. Ian (pronounced EE-un) slammed into Florida’s west coast as a Category 4 hurricane with 155-mile-per-hour winds and plowed across the Florida peninsula until it reached the Atlantic Ocean. Along its path, it left flooded streets, splintered homes and downed power lines — and more than 2.6-million Florida residents without electricity. Damage is estimated to be $40-billion or more and will take months, or even years to repair. Ian was one of the most powerful storms to hit the United States in decades, just short of the rarest — and strongest — class of hurricane, a Category 5. Its unusual name has roots in the European nation of Scotland and is the Scottish version of the name John. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about recovery efforts from damage caused by Hurricane Ian. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining ways governments and private citizens can offer aid and assistance. Include what you think are the most pressing and important needs.

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. No More Pro Bowl

The Pro Bowl all-star game has been a featured attraction for the National Football League since it was first played more than 70 years ago in 1951. After this year’s regular season, the format for the Pro Bowl will be changed from a single game to a weeklong series of skills competitions and a non-contact flag football game. The new format will be called “The Pro Bowl Games” and will feature AFC and NFC players showcasing their football and non-football skills in challenges over several days. The 2023 Games will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the flag football game will be played February 5. In recent years, the Pro Bowl has been played the week before the Super Bowl and has featured all-stars who are not in the NFL’s championship game. The change in format came about because the game’s TV audience has been shrinking and players have grown increasingly fearful of getting injured in the contest. Sports leagues are constantly making changes to improve the game, attract more fans or ensure player safety. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about changes that pro sports leagues in the United States are making or considering. Use what you read to write a sports column discussing changes in different sports, which ones you think are good ideas, and which you think are not so good.

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.

3. Hispanic Heritage Month

Every year in September and October, Hispanic Heritage Month honors the history, culture and accomplishments of Hispanic and Latino Americans. It begins on September 15 and runs through October 15 to coincide with independence days of Hispanic countries in Central and South America that were the homelands of Hispanics and Latinos in the United States. As a group and as individuals, Hispanic Americans play an increasingly important role in America. They are the nation’s largest ethnic group and the second fastest growing, after Asians. The Hispanic population in the U.S. reached a record 62.1-million in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and now accounts for 18.7 percent of the total U.S. population. Hispanic and Latino Americans contribute significantly in a wide variety of career fields. In the newspaper or online, find and list Hispanic Americans who are leaders in: Government, Sports, Movies, Music, Science, Business, Technology and at least two other fields. For each person, write a sentence or two describing what he/she has contributed and why that is significant.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

4. Space Force Song

The U.S. Space Force is the newest branch of America’s military, following the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force. It was established in 2019 by former President Trump to defend the United States from threats or attacks launched from space. Each of the military branches has an identifying theme song, and this month the Space Force unveiled the song it will use. It is called “Semper Supra,” which means “Always Above” in the Latin language. Like the nation’s other military songs, it has a steady, upbeat rhythm that is easy to march to. Its lyrics declare: “We’re the mighty watchful eye / Guardians beyond the blue / The invisible front line / Warfighters brave and true. / Boldly reaching into space / There’s no limit to our sky / Standing guard both night and day / We’re the Space Force from on high.” Listeners both inside and outside the military liked the music of the song, but were divided on the lyrics. Some said the words reminded them of other patriotic and military songs, while others said they seemed like a “word salad” ripped off from “Star Wars” and pop culture. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read reactions to the new Space Force theme song. Then use the Internet to listen to the worlds and music of the theme songs for America’s other military branches. Think like a music critic and write a review of the different theme songs, comparing their music and lyrics. Which did you like the most? Which did you like the least? Which are similar to each other?

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. The End of Comics?

For more than 125 years, comic strips have entertained readers in print newspapers. The first was “The Yellow Kid,” which appeared in New York City in 1895 and featured the adventures of a boy in a pointed hat dressed all in yellow. The long history of comics may soon be coming to an end, however — at least in print. More and more newspapers are cutting back comics, and some are eliminating them entirely, the Washington Post newspaper reported. Large newspaper companies, such as Lee Enterprises based in Iowa, have announced they are reducing print pages devoted to comics, puzzles and games, moving more offerings online. That’s where more and more readers are getting their news, one Lee paper said. The Martinsville Bulletin in Virginia, wrote September 12 that “comics characters are often on their phones and computers and social media — and now it’s time their newspapers are catching up.” Comic strips combine pictures and words to tell stories about different characters. In the newspaper or online, find and read comic strips to see how they do this. Then find a character or two from stories in the news to create a new comic strip from scratch. Choose people who don’t interact in real life to be in your strip. How would they get along or relate to each other?

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.