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For Grades K-4 , week of Sep. 19, 2016

1. Election Questions

The 2016 race for president is heating up between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. And as they travel the country seeking support, voters have questions they want to ask the candidates. Many of those questions involve what the candidates would do to help children, families or schools. In teams or as a class, search the newspaper or Internet to see if the candidates are talking about those issues. Closely read any stories on those subjectys to see what the candidates are saying. Then pretend you are going to interview Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Write out five questions you would like them to answer about how they would help children, families or schools. For each question, write the reason you would like an answer to the question. Discuss questions and reasons as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. ‘Bears on Parade’

In the city of Anchorage, Alaska, 13 colorful, life-size, fiberglass bears have been installed in outdoor and indoor spaces around town — and more are being completed. The “Bears on Parade” project is designed to raise awareness of brown, grizzly and black bears in the area around Anchorage, the largest city in America’s largest state. As many as 65 brown bears and 350 black bears live around Anchorage, according to the Anchorage Bear Committee, a nonprofit conservation group. The area also supports a smaller number of grizzly bears. If you could choose, what wildlife species would you call more attention to in your community? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about this species, its habits and its habitat. Use what your read to draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper, showing this species in action and why you like it.

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.

3. Babies Sleeping

For years, children’s doctors have been urging parents to have babies sleep on their backs — and alone. Yet too many parents still put their babies in risky sleep positions and situations, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports. Videos compiled of sleeping infants between one and six months old show babies placed down on their sides or stomachs on surfaces that are too soft, in bedding that is too loose, or in a bed shared with a parent. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urges families to discuss proper sleep situations for babies because sleep-related deaths are the most common cause of death for babies under a year old. Issues involving the health and safety of children are often in the news. As a class, closely read a story in the newspaper or online about one issue. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor of the newspaper, detailing three things families should know about the issue, and why.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

4. Ice Crack Spreading

A huge crack is spreading in the fourth largest ice shelf in Antarctica near the Earth’s South Pole — and scientists are bracing for the loss of an enormous chunk of it. A section of the ice shelf measuring about 2,316 square miles could break off, an area nearly the size of the U.S. state of Delaware. The crack in the shelf known officially as Larsen C is growing longer — by 13.67 miles just since March. Its full length now is more than 80 miles. Ice shelves, which float on top of deep ocean waters, are melting due to the rising temperatures of global warming. An Antarctic shelf called Larsen A was lost in 1995, and one called Larsen B broke up suddenly in 2002. Global warming and climate change are having effects all over the world. As a class, find and closely read a story about one effect. Use what you read to create a chart showing how habitats, wildlife and people are being affected by this effect.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. More Pandas, Fewer Gorillas

The giant panda is no longer an “endangered species,” but the eastern gorilla has been added to the world’s “endangered species list.” A conservation group called the International Union for Conservation of Nature has upgraded the panda to “vulnerable” status but no longer considers it “endangered.” The eastern gorilla, however, has fallen to an “endangered” rank. The conservation group reports that the population of giant pandas has risen 17 percent, since the Asian nation of China banned the trading of panda skins, cracked down on poaching and set up more wildlife reserve areas to protect them (they remain threatened by climate change). Eastern gorillas, however, have declined 70 percent in 20 years, mostly because of civil wars in the African nations of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they inhabit forests. All over the world, people are working to protect “endangered” or “vulnerable” species of wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an “endangered” species. Use what you read to write a poem, rap or rhyme about how animal lovers would feel if this animal no longer existed. What would they miss most?

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.