For Grades 5-8 THE WEEK OF Feb. 15, 2021

1. Impeachment Vote

The impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump ended last weekend when the U.S. Senate voted to acquit Trump of inciting “insurrection” with his words and actions before his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol building on January 6. The former President had been impeached by the U.S. House just prior to leaving office and charged with committing “high crimes and misdemeanors” with his actions. It was the first time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached two times during his time in office, and the first time the Senate has been asked to take up impeachment charges after a president has left the White House. On the first day of the trial, the Senate voted that it was constitutional to try a former president for actions taken while still in office. Trump’s acquittal had been expected, because most Republican senators indicated in advance that they would support the former president. It takes two-thirds of the Senate’s 100 members to approve impeachment charges, and with Republicans displaying uniform support the House prosecutors fell way short of the necessary 67 votes. The impeachment trial of former President Trump has ended, but the divisions it has caused in the nation continue. That will make governing more difficult for President Biden. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the nation’s political divisions. Use what you read to write a political column, analyzing how those divisions will affect efforts by the United States to deal with problems and issues.

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.

2. History-Making Team

Every February, Black History Month honors the achievements of African Americans in all walks of life. When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, African Americans achieved something never done before in the history of the National Football League. All three coaching coordinators for head coach Bruce Arians’ team are Black, and so is the assistant head coach. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles drew up the scheme that shut down the high-powered offense of the Kansas City Chiefs. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich ran the offense that saw quarterback Tom Brady throw three touchdown passes in the first half. Special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong led a unit that played error free and kept the pressure on the Chiefs all day. And assistant head coach Harold Goodwin oversaw the running game that racked up 145 yards on the ground. “I thought our three guys had great plans,” Arians said of his coordinators. Celebrate the achievements of Tampa Bay’s coordinators by finding and closely reading stories about other African Americans who are making a mark in their careers. Pick two and write an editorial comparing the challenges they faced to be successful — and how they overcame them.

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.

3. Protest Art

History isn’t just things that happened a long time ago. It’s things that are happening right now, this week, or in the recent past. America has made a lot of history in the last year, from the Black Lives Matter protests, to the coronavirus epidemic, to the Washington, DC insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. Historians have moved quickly to collect artifacts of this recent history. This summer three museums in Washington, began collecting posters, signs, artifacts and stories of people who took part in Black Lives Matter protests. And now protest art that was painted on plywood that covered business windows during and after protests is being gathered for display at a new art gallery in the nation’s capital. The gallery, which will be located in the space of a former training facility, is a collaboration between the Oxford Properties company and the PAINTS Institute, a community non-profit that seeks to provide education, training and job opportunities to at-risk youths and seniors. The goal is to preserve history and help revitalize an area that has been hard hit by the coronavirus shutdown. “I want this to be an emotional space for people,” the head of the PAINTS Institute said. Art and artifacts can help tell the story of events. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a significant event that has happened in the United States or elsewhere in the world. Think like a historian and make a list of art or artifacts you would want to collect to tell the story of this event in the future. Share and discuss with family, friends and classmates.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, lists, charts, diagrams and graphs; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. Good News, Bad News

The United States continues to struggle to control the coronavirus epidemic, and scientists are closely watching every development. This month brought both good news and bad news. The good news is that the number of new daily infections dropped below 100,000 for the first time in months. The bad news is that even at that level the number of new daily cases is higher than daily totals in the spring and summer. On top of that, health officials fear a new “spike” in cases due to new strains of the virus showing up across the country and Super Bowl celebrations in which people did not wear masks or practice social distancing. Efforts to control the coronavirus continue to make news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the delivery of vaccines, testing and other issues. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor assessing the latest efforts and how the public is helping or hurting them.

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.

5. Presidents Day

On Monday this week, the nation celebrates Presidents Day to honor the memory and achievements of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Washington, who was the nation’s first president, was born on February 22 in 1732. Lincoln, who was the nation’s 16th president, was born on February 12 in 1809. Before becoming president, Washington led the American army in the nation’s War of Independence. Lincoln was president during the American Civil War, which led to the Emancipation Proclamation freeing African American slaves in southern states. With family, friends or classmates, discuss the many things the president of the United States is asked to do, and find examples in the newspaper or online. Use what you learn to write an essay titled “Being the President.” Share essays with family, friends and classmates and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.