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For Grades 5-8 , week of Feb. 13, 2023

1. A Record for Beyoncé

Every year the Grammy Awards honor top performances in the music world. And this year the artist with the most nominations made history in another way as well. Superstar Beyoncé picked up four Grammys at the award show last week to become the all-time leader for wins. Her four victories gave her 32 for her career to pass old-school classical conductor Georg Solti for the most ever. Beyoncé won for Best Dance/Electric Recording (“Break My Soul”), Best Dance/Electronic Music Album (“Renaissance”), Best Traditional R&B Performance (“Plastic Off the Sofa”) and Best R&B Song (“Cuff It”). Other artists took the highest honors for 2023. Harry Styles won Album of the Year for “Harry’s House,” Lizzo achieved Record of the Year for her dance anthem “About D--- Time” and song of the year went to 73-year-old Bonnie Raitt for “Just Like That.” In another notable achievement, actress Viola Davis won Best Audiobook, Narration and Storytelling Recording for her memoir “Finding Me,” making her the newest EGOT — a winner of an Emmy for television, a Grammy for recording, an Oscar for movies and a Tony for stage performance. If you were giving out Grammy Awards, which music artists or songs would you honor? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about this year’s Grammys. Then think like a music critic and write a column for the newspaper listing artists you would have honored and why. Share and discuss choices with friends or classmates.

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. For Love of Chocolate

Valentine’s Day is this Tuesday, and millions of people will be giving or getting chocolate as a gift. It’s a favorite food for the holiday, but why do people like it so much? New scientific research may have found the answer. According to a study conducted in the European nation of the United Kingdom, the key to chocolate’s delicious-ness is the coating that gives it a smooth, silky texture. That is the first thing chocolate eaters experience, and it is created by a thin layer of fat droplets on the surface, the Washington Post newspaper reports. The droplets offset the grainy texture of cocoa powder, which gives chocolate its color and flavor. The smooth surface is what creates the initial “chocolate sensation” in the mouth, researchers report. That sensation is then enhanced when saliva in the mouth melts the cocoa and releases the rich flavor that chocolate eaters love. Chocolate is one of the most popular treats people give as gifts for Valentine’s Day. In the newspaper or online, find stories and ads for chocolate treats being offered as gifts. Pick two you would like to receive and two you would like to give to friends or family. Write a complete sentence for each, explaining your choice.

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.

3. Honors for 9-Year-Old

A 9-year-old girl who was reported to police for spraying invasive insects in her neighborhood has gotten the final word in the controversy caused by the incident. Bobbi Wilson has been honored by world-famous Yale University for her efforts to kill invasive spotted lanternflies with a homemade bug repellent. Bobbi was testing her repellent in her hometown of Caldwell, New Jersey when a resident called police to report “a little Black woman walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees,” CNN News reported. The incident was widely viewed as a case of racial profiling and an example of the “adultification” of young Black girls, who experts say are treated more harshly by police than white girls of the same age. On January 20, the Yale School of Public Health held a ceremony to celebrate Bobbi’s efforts to eradicate the invasive species that can threaten fruit trees and other shrubs. The school also used the occasion to call attention to “her bravery and how inspiring she is” in the face of racial profiling. At the time of the incident, state agriculture officials were urging residents to kill any spotted lanternflies they encountered to prevent their spread. Racial profiling by police and residents is a problem in many communities across America. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one such situation. Use what you read to write a short editorial offering suggestions on how such situations could be handled better.

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.

4. Wing Scam

When it comes to party foods, Americans love chicken wings for events such as last weekend’s Super Bowl. A school worker in the state of Illinois apparently REALLY loved chicken wings, but for all the wrong reasons. Vera Liddell, the former director of food services for a district outside the city of Chicago, has been charged with stealing $1.5-million worth of wings by ordering them from a local supplier and sending the school district the bill. The scam was discovered during a review of food purchases for the Harvey School District because it never serves chicken wings to students because the bones can be hazardous. In court papers Liddell is charged with ordering 11,000 cases of wings and then picking them up in a van belonging to the school district, the Washington Post reported. It is not clear what she did with the wings, but they could be a hot item for resale. Liddell, who is 66, is scheduled to appear in court February 22 to enter a plea on charges of theft and financial crimes. Unusual crime stories are often in the news because of the special challenges they pose for investigators. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an unusual crime police or other investigators solved. Use what you read to write a “crime report” telling what challenges investigators faced and how they overcame them.

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.

5. Skiing Antarctica

Antarctica is one of the seven continents of the world, and the one with the harshest conditions for people and wildlife. Even in summer, most of the continent is covered by snow and ice, and high temperatures for many areas don’t get above freezing. And there is always icy wind to deal with. Such an environment isn’t ideal for any outdoor activity, but that didn’t stop a 33-year-old British army officer from taking on an enormously difficult challenge. Preet Chandi of the European nation of Great Britain skied solo across Antarctica, completing the journey in January, the Washington Post reported. January is a summer month in Antarctica because the continent is at the Earth’s South Pole, where seasons are opposite those of the United States and other countries in the Northern Hemisphere. Chandi completed her 922-mile solo trip in 70 days on cross-country skis, all the while pulling a 220-pound sled carrying a tent, equipment and weeks’ worth of food. She skied in shifts of up to 24 hours, with 7 or so hours of sleep in between. “I wanted to do something big,” she said, and she did just that. People often take on great outdoor challenges to test themselves against nature and the elements. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about someone who has done this. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing what this person achieved and why it was difficult.

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.