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For Grades 5-8 , week of Nov. 11, 2019

1. Gaming Curfew

All over the world people love to play video games. In the Asian nation of China, however, officials feel that young people love them too much. To reduce gaming, China has announced a curfew for online gaming that would ban gaming platforms from providing services to minors between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. In addition to the nightly curfew, new government rules limit the amount of time minors can play online games — 90 minutes a day on weekdays and up to three hours per day on weekends and holidays. China is the world’s largest gaming market, and the new rules are designed to protect “the physical and mental health of minors,” CNN News reports. Chinese officials fear the popularity of gaming makes young people vulnerable to video game addiction, or Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) as it is known officially. In 2018 the disorder was added to the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases for the first time. Symptoms include compulsive gaming to the exclusion of other interests, including school and family life. Parents and health leaders are concerned that too much gaming can lead to video game addiction, which has now been classified as a health disorder. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about these concerns, or steps that are being taken to reduce gaming. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor outlining steps you think would be most effective. Comment on the Chinese gaming curfew if you like.

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. The Queen’s Fur

One of the big goals of the animal rights movement is to get people to stop using real fur in clothing. For years anti-fur activists have argued it is wrong to kill animals for clothes or fashion, and now they have gotten support from one of the world’s most prominent people. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has stopped wearing real fur and from now on will only use artificial fur that does not harm animals when it is produced. According to a book by the woman who chooses the Queen’s clothes, “If Her Majesty is due to attend an engagement in particularly cold weather, from 2019 onwards fake fur will be used to make sure she stays warm.” The decision was welcomed by anti-fur activists in Great Britain. “Queen Elizabeth’s decision to ‘go faux’ [fake] is the perfect reflection of the mood of the British public, the vast majority of whom detest cruel fur, and want nothing to do with it,” one anti-fur leader said. Banning the use of fur in clothing is just one of the goals of the animal rights movement. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other goals of the movement. Use what you read to write a short editorial, examining different goals of the movement, whether you support them and why.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Blowout Suspension

In sports, everyone wants to win, but is there such a thing as bad winning? Yes, according to sports authorities in New York State, who suspended a high school football coach after his team crushed an opponent 61-13. Coach Robert Shaver was suspended for one game because his team’s 48-point victory exceeded the 42-point margin allowed by Nassau County rules. Under the unusual rules, if a football team wins by more than that amount, the coach must explain to a special committee why the lopsided score could not have been avoided, the New York Times reported. The committee determined that Shaver should have pulled his starters when he had a big lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Shaver said he kept the starters in because the other team still had time to come back. Rules like the one that caused the suspension of a New York high school coach are sometimes called “mercy” rules. They are designed to prevent teams from running up the score, and are common in youth sports. As a class, discuss such rules and whether you think they are a good idea. Do they make sports fairer or do they take away from competition, in which teams sometimes lose badly? Use points from the discussion to write a sports column giving your view on whether such rules are appropriate at the middle or high school level.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Line Up for Popeyes!

When Popeyes restaurants introduced a new chicken sandwich last summer, it caused a sensation across the nation. Customers waited in long lines to buy the spicy, deep-fried sandwich and ate so many that Popeyes ran out. This month the Popeyes chicken sandwich returned to the chain’s restaurants, and the reaction was just as wild. People again lined up to get into restaurants, drive-through lines stretched into the streets and people went wild on social media to share their meals and excitement. The Popeyes frenzy even had an impact on this month’s elections. When long lines first formed last summer, a 17-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, worked the crowds to register people to vote. He could have done it again when the new crowds formed this month. “I hope everyone working at Popeyes gets a raise or bonus,” one customer tweeted, “because … whew!” The Popeyes chicken sandwich is an example of a product that became hugely popular in a short period of time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another product that became a “must have” sensation with consumers. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling why you think this product became so popular and whether you think the popularity will last.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Dingo Is His Name-O

When an adorable puppy showed up in the back yard of a family in Australia, it looked like many other adorable lost animals looking for a home. Scientific testing, however, has revealed the puppy is anything but ordinary. It is a purebred Alpine dingo, an endangered dog-like wild animal in the southern Pacific nation. The dingo, whose rescuers named it Wandi, thrilled wildlife experts, because Alpine dingoes are threatened with extinction due to inbreeding, hunting and government eradication programs. It was especially exciting that the DNA testing showed the animal was 100 percent dingo, since many dingoes have interbred with domestic dogs. Wandi was moved to the wildlife sanctuary of the Australian Dingo Foundation and may become part of the foundation’s breeding program. All over the world people are taking steps to help or protect endangered species. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effort. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for an informational video on the dangers faced by the species, and what people are doing to help it. Write an outline for the video, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene. Choose a celebrity to narrate the video and explain your choice.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.