For Grades 5-8 THE WEEK OF Sep. 16, 2019

1. High Ranked Sisters

It took a long time and a lot of hard work, but two sisters have made history in the U.S. Army. This summer Maria Barrett and Paula Lodi became what is believed to be the first pair of sisters to become generals in the in the Army. Lodi, 51, was promoted to brigadier general on July 12 and works as the director of health care operations for the Army’s surgeon general. Barrett, 53, was already a major general and commander of the Army’s cyber networks. Both joined the Army shortly before U.S. military leaders opened to women all roles except direct combat jobs. Today about 16 percent of the military’s 1.3-million active-duty personnel are women. With their achievements both women are likely to become role models for other women. “Even though I don’t feel like every day it’s about being a woman, you are setting an example, whether you recognize it or not,” Barrett said. Like Maria Barrett and Paula Lodi, women are achieving success in new ways in all sorts of careers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a breakthrough achievement by a woman. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling why this breakthrough is important, for both women and men.

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. ‘Happy Hour’ for Food

To attract more customers, restaurants and bars often offer “happy hours” at which people can buy food and drinks at reduced prices. In the European nation of Finland, happy hours are now being held at grocery stores as well. It’s not just for fun, however. The grocery happy hours are designed to reduce the amount of food that gets wasted and to feed people in need. Every day at 9 p.m. the 900 stores in the S-market grocery chain offer customers steep discounts on foods that are about to reach their expiration or “sell date.” The foods are still good, but would be thrown out if people did not take advantage of the bargains of up to 60 percent off. Food waste is a big problem for supermarkets around the world, and especially in the United states. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about one-third of the food produced and packaged for humans is lost or wasted, the New York Times newspaper reports. The food happy hours in Finland are an example of a new and innovative approach to solving a problem. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another innovative approach to problem-solving. Use what you read to prepare a short oral report, explaining the new approach, the results it has achieved and changes that could make the results even better.

Common Core State Standards: Citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. Old School Rescue

In the state of California, a dramatic river rescue was not just one for the history books — it was taken right out of the history books. When Curtis Whitson found himself stranded without cell phone service on a waterfall on the Arroyo Seco river, he turned to an approach used long before electronics. He wrote a note and stuck it in a plastic bottle and hurled it into the water going over the falls. It was his only hope that someone would learn he was stranded with his son and girlfriend at the top of the 40-foot waterfall. There was supposed to be a rope that would allow them to let themselves down the face of the cliff where the waterfall was located. But the rope was missing, washed away by heavy spring rains. So Whitson did the only thing he could think of — and prayed that someone would find the bottle, according to the Washington Post newspaper. Miraculously, someone did — and in just a few hours. A quarter of a mile downstream two hikers recovered the bottle, and alerted rescue authorities. That night, Whitson and his companions were awakened by a helicopter overhead and the loudspeaker message: “You have been found!” Quick and creative thinking helped Curtis Whitson when he and his companions needed to be rescued. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone else who benefited from quick and creative thinking. Pretend you are going to interview this person. Write out five questions you would ask to learn more about how the person came up with the idea that benefited him or her.

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

4. A Special Fan Story

In many schools, students take part in “show your colors” days on which they support their favorite sports teams. At a Florida elementary school, one student wanted to support the University of Tennessee but didn’t have a shirt from the out-of-state school. So he drew his own picture of the letters U.T. and attached it to an orange T-shirt, the color of the Tennessee Volunteers. His classmates made fun of his homemade image, and teased him so severely he was left in tears. Now, thanks to his teacher, the boy’s image has been adopted as part of the official gear offered by the university. Teacher Laura Snyder was so upset by the teasing that she posted the boy’s design on Facebook. It went viral and came to the attention of Tennessee sports leaders. “Now you can share in this student’s Volunteer pride by wearing his design on your shirt too,” the university announced on the website for the school store. After announcing that proceeds from the shirt would be donated to the Stomp Out Bullying group, the store website got so much traffic that it crashed. The university then sent the Florida boy a care package of official Tennessee sports gear. Many people like to show their support of sports teams by wearing special gear or clothing. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a sports team you like. Then create an image, logo or design that could appear on clothing or other items used by fans. Share images as a class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. Standout Tomato

Nature, it has been said, works in mysterious ways. It certainly did in the East River in New York City this summer. A kayaker exploring the area near the Brooklyn Bridge found a tomato plant growing out of a crack in a wooden piling standing upright in the water. And it had a bright red tomato growing on it. Kayaker Matthew Frey took a picture of the unexpected vegetable, and it quickly went viral when he posted it online. Most people wanted to know how the plant could have gotten to its unlikely perch in the river. Most experts felt it was probably planted by a bird, either by directly depositing a seed from a tomato it was eating or pooping out a seed that landed on the piling. Either way, a spokesperson for Brooklyn Bridge Park said the thriving plant was “one of these sweet accidents.” Frey said simply “Things like that just make me happy.” Nature is full of surprises. In the newspaper or online, find and study a story or photo of something in nature that surprised people. Use what you read to write a poem, rap or rhyme describing this natural “Surprise!” If you like, you can tell about this surprise in the voice of the thing that provided the surprise.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.