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For Grades K-4 , week of Feb. 13, 2017

1. A Water Shortage?

Because of global warming, glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising — but that doesn’t mean we can expect to have more drinking water in the future. In fact, for people living north of the Earth’s equator, it would mean just the opposite. A new study reveals that the decline in snowpack due to warming could lead to water shortages. The study, published in the science journal Environmental Research Letters, concludes that reduced snowpack high in mountain areas could affect water supplies very badly (it’s happening already in drought-stricken California and the Middle East). In the United States many natural water basins depend on snow to be refilled. Water is needed to support life on Earth. It also is important for many other activities. Search the newspaper or Internet for photos, words or stories that show different ways water is important to people, wildlife and the environment. Print out words and images you find to create an art collage showing the importance of water. Give your collage a title and explain it to the class.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

2. A First for a Justice

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in her 80s, but that’s not too old to appear in her first major opera. This fall she played the Duchess of Krakenthorp on opening night of the Washington National Opera’s new production of Donizetti’s “The Daughter of the Regiment.” In opera, most performers sing their roles from start to finish, but Ginsburg’s part did not require singing. She played the part of a duchess who grants the opera’s lovers permission to marry. It was strictly a one-night stand, though. For the rest of the opera’s run the role was played by actress Cindy Gold. In her Washington opera appearance, Ruth Bader Ginsburg did something for the first time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about something you would like to do for the first time. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining why you would like to try 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. Millions for Restaurant Items

How much would you pay for a souvenir from a famous business? For the Four Seasons restaurant in New York City, the answer was A LOT. At an auction last year, the contents of the landmark restaurant sold for a total of $4.3 million, more than three times the $1.35 million that had been predicted. Many of the items had been designed by famous architects and artists, but small items like ashtrays and ice buckets were just as popular. In most cases, the bids were inspired by fond memories of the restaurant that had operated at its location for almost 60 years and attracted many celebrities. The auction came about after the restaurant owners decided to move to a new location. Fans of celebrities or landmark businesses often are willing to pay great amounts for items connected to them. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about a celebrity or place you like. Pretend a charity auction is being held of items connected to this person or place. Write a short opinion column giving your view on what items would be most popular with the public, and why.

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.

4. What’s Up on Space Station?

The International Space Station has been orbiting the Earth for 19 years and continues to gather new information about life and travel in space. The crews are made up of astronauts from different nations and perform a wide range of experiments. The current crew includes two Americans — Commander Robert S. Kimbrough and biochemistry researcher Peggy Whitson, who holds the record for most time spent in space by a woman at more than 400 days. Kimbrough will return from space in March when a new crew joins the space station mission. That crew will include American Jack Fischer, an astronaut and former test pilot. What are the current crew members doing aboard the International Space Station? Use the newspaper and Internet to read stories about the research and activities of the crew members. Use what you read to create a series of comic strips, showing one or more things crew members are doing.

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.

5. University Gets $150 Million

Billionaire Stephen Schwarzman has given $150 million to Yale University for a student center that will include performance and exhibit spaces, meeting areas, dining facilities and more. “The education I received at Yale changed the course of my life,” explained Schwarzman, the cofounder of the Blackstone Group, a global financial services company. The 88,300-square-foot Schwartzman Center is scheduled to open in 2020. Artistic activities include many things, including music, dance, plays, movies, paintings, statues and sculptures. The arts teach people there are many ways to express their creativity and emotions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone showing their creativity. Then use what you read to write a letter discussing how artistic activities benefit the community.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.