For Grades 5-8 , week of Apr 05, 2021

1. Wind Power

Alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and water power are getting increased attention around the world, as nations seek to reduce the use of fossil fuels that contribute to air pollution and global warming. Now wind power has gotten a big boost in the United States from President Biden. The President has announced a new initiative to expand wind farms in the ocean off the nation’s East Coast with a goal of generating enough wind energy to power more than 10-million American homes by the year 2030. The project would also eliminate 78-million metric tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and generate 44,000 jobs, White House officials said. Wind power is getting more and more attention as a clean source of renewable energy. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about wind power projects in different states or communities. Use what you read to write an editorial examining the benefits and shortcomings of wind power as a source of energy.

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. Beverly Cleary

In a long and wonderful career as a writer, Beverly Cleary created some of the most memorable and popular characters in children’s books. Millions of elementary and middle school readers loved to follow the adventures of Ramona the Pest, her sister Beezus, Ralph S. Mouse, Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy — and many were turned on to reading as a result. Cleary, who died last week at age 104, created Ralph S. Mouse, for example, to interest her son in reading. Ramona was the independent kind of girl she wanted to be when she was growing up (though not as bratty). And the books she wrote were the kind she was always looking for as a child. “I wanted to read funny stories about the sort of children I knew,” she once said, “and I decided that someday when I grew up I would write them.” Beverly Cleary created great characters in her books. With family or friends, discuss book characters you have liked. Then find and closely read a story about a person in the news who would be a good character for a children’s book. Write a paragraph telling why this person would be a good book character. For fun, write a scene showing this person as a creative character.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

3. Baseball’s Back!

Major League Baseball is back. And despite the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus epidemic, the National and American Leagues will attempt to have a full 162-game schedule, followed by playoffs and the World Series. On top of that there will be fans in the stands — something that did not occur last year when the Major Leagues cut back their schedule to 60 games. This season, fans will be closely watching the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers to see if they can gain a second straight championship. They will also be following the Tampa Bay Rays, whom the Dodgers defeated in the Series, to see if they can get back to the Fall Classic. Other strong contenders are expected to be the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and San Diego Padres, according to experts. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about interesting games and performances by teams and players in baseball this week. Use what you read to write a sports column titled “Play Ball! Highlights of the Week.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

4. Survival Story

On the “Survivor” TV show, participants have to use their wits and skills to survive in wild and isolated locations. In the Amazon rain forest of Brazil, an airplane pilot had to do all that and more when he found himself in a real-life survivor situation. Antônio Sena was flying a single engine plane when the engine quit and he had to crash land in the jungle. He walked 36 days through the jungle before he was rescued. Along the way he had to avoid jaguars, venomous insects and anaconda snakes; build shelters from palm leaves and branches, and learn from monkeys what fruits were safe to eat, the New York Times newspaper reported. He used the position of the morning sun to determine what direction he was going. Eventually, he stumbled onto the campsite of a group gathering Brazil nuts in the forest. They were able to radio for help. Antônio Sena’s jungle experience was an amazing adventure and survival test. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another adventure or survival test someone experienced. Brainstorm an idea for a documentary or action film about this person’s adventure. Write an outline for your movie, including images you would use. Then write the first scene in the style of a screenplay.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Banksy to the Rescue

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. He once painted Britain’s House of Commons legislature with all the members replaced by chimpanzees and on another occasion shredded a painting just after it was sold for $1.4-million. More recently he has used his art for serious purposes, calling attention to the coronavirus epidemic and celebrating nurses as superheroes in the battle against it. He has raised a bundle of money for a hospital in the process. Bansky, who has never revealed his true identity, donated a painting called “Game Changer” to the University Hospital Southampton so that it could raise funds to support its operation. The painting shows a child playing with a superhero toy nurse wearing a Red Cross emblem, a cape and face mask while figures of Batman and Spiderman lie forgotten in a nearby basket. Last month, it sold for $23-million at an art auction — more than any Banksy work ever. The money will go to the hospital and other healthcare organizations. Throughout the coronavirus epidemic people have done a wide variety of things to honor and support nurses, doctors and hospitals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the things people have done. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling how some of these activities could inspire others to help healthcare workers.

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.