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For Grades 5-8 , week of Apr 17, 2023

1. Stiff Bullying Penalty

Bullying is a problem in schools and neighborhoods around the world. In the Asian nation of South Korea, legislators are proposing a new law that would crack down on bullying by making offenses a permanent part of students’ educational records. If approved, the law would make it harder for students to get into college or even gain jobs when they are older, the Washington Post newspaper reports. As in other nations, school grades, attendance, extracurricular activities and personal references are the main factors considered for admission to college in South Korea. If the new anti-bullying measure becomes law, colleges and employers may be able to look more closely at high school discipline records. It is “the responsibility of the state to make schools free from violence,” said one supporter of the measure, adding that perpetrators “must be disadvantaged in any way” possible. Schools and communities have tried many approaches to stop or reduce bullying among students and others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some efforts. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining approaches that have been successful that could be tried in your community.

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 to Scooters

During the coronavirus epidemic, electric scooters soared in popularity because people preferred outdoor travel to riding on buses or trains. Based on the children’s toy, the motorized scooters were offered by rental companies for low fees as an alternative form of transportation. Cities that once welcomed them, however, have discovered that they can be dangerous and a “nuisance” to riders, pedestrians and other vehicle traffic. The European city of Paris, France is one of those cities, and voters there recently turned a big thumbs-down on allowing rental scooters. In a referendum vote at the start of this month, 89 percent of voters backed a ban on rental scooters. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, who once supported rental scooters as a way to reduce traffic, led the campaign against them, the New York Times newspaper reported. She said they had become a “nuisance” and pledged that when licenses for rental companies expire this summer “there will be no more self-service scooters in Paris.” Paris has been one of the largest markets for rental scooters in the world, recording about 20 million trips on 15,000 scooters in 2022. As electric scooters grow in popularity, safety issues are getting more attention. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another activity for which safety is an issue. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor to make people aware about key safety issues for this activity.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. ‘Baby Shark’ Charges

The “Baby Shark” song is a big hit with toddlers and other young children because it has a cheerful, repetitive tune and easy words to remember. For older children and adults, however, that tune and those words can be really annoying when heard over and over again. Knowing that, officers at a county jail in the state of Oklahoma tried to use “Baby Shark” as punishment for prisoners — and they got in trouble for doing it. According to a lawsuit filed by prisoners at the Oklahoma County Detention Center, inmates were led into an empty room, handcuffed to a wall and forced to listen to “Baby Shark” for hours and hours at very high volume. This month, officers Gregory Cornell Butler Jr. and Christian Charles Miles each pleaded “no contest” to three criminal counts of cruelty to a prisoner that were separate from the lawsuit, the Washington Post reported. The officers each were each fined $500, required to complete 40 hours of community service and banned from working in law enforcement for two years. The lawsuit has not been resolved. The treatment of prisoners in jails or prisons is often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one situation. Use what you read to write a summary of the treatment prisoners are receiving (for better or worse), why that is important and what may happen as a result.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.

4. ‘You’re Garbage’

Cities and communities have tried many approaches to get people to stop littering and pick up dog wastes. New York City is now trying shame. In a series of TV ads, the New York Department of Sanitation is telling New Yorkers that “If You Litter, You’re Garbage.” Ads are even harsher on dog owners, showing a dog going to the bathroom and declaring “Don’t Leave … It on the Sidewalk.” The ads are the first major anti-litter campaign from the Sanitation Department in at least 15 years, ABC7 TV reports. “New Yorkers have had enough of litter, enough of filth on our sidewalks, and enough of feeling like there’s nothing they can do about it,” Mayor Eric Adams said. “That's what this campaign is all about.” Advertising on TV and the Internet can have a great effect changing or molding public opinion. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an issue that needs attention in your community or state. Use what you read to create a series of TV or Internet ads to make people aware of the problem or take action. Create an eye-catching theme for your ads that will get the attention of viewers. Write text for your ads and choose photos from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate them.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Roll the Dice!

When people experience good fortune, it’s sometimes said they “got a lucky roll of the dice.” In the state of Wisconsin, a lucky roll of the dice made a man a village board president after an election. The dice came into use in the Village of Sister Bay after candidates Nate Bell and Rob Zoschke tied with 256 votes each in the race for president of the village board. To break the tie, the board decided to use dice like those used on children’s table games to determine the winner. Each candidate got to roll a single dice cube and the one who rolled the higher number would win, the Washington Post reported. Bell rolled a six and Zoschke rolled a two, making Bell the president. This is not the first dice roll used to settle an election. Ties in the states of Arkansas and California have been resolved with dice in the past. Rolling dice was not the only approach the Sister Bay board considered. Others included drawing straws, pulling a name from a hat, drawing from a deck of cards or tossing a coin. Wisconsin election rules declare that ties should be broken by an approach that produces a “random result.” Close elections are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a close election that has happened recently or in the past. Use what you read to write a political column, analyzing the different impact the top candidates would have if elected — and why that would be important.

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