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For Grades 5-8 , week of Apr 30, 2012

1. Little Cloned Sheep …

May 1 is Mother Goose Day, a day to celebrate the source of famous nursery rhymes. Use today’s newspaper to look for a light or humorous story that interests you. Then use a favorite nursery rhyme or children’s song as the basis of a creative poem that retells the story you read in the newspaper.

Core/National Standard: Writing fluently for multiple purposes to produce compositions, such as personal narratives, persuasive essays, lab reports or poetry.

2. It’s Off to the Pokey!

Cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay of Herrin, Illinois, received a medical bill in the mail that was sent by mistake. It said she owed $280, but when she called about it, she was told it was sent in error and she didn’t have to pay it. The bill went unpaid but was not taken off the books. It eventually was turned over to a collection agency, and one day, state troopers showed up at her door and took her to jail in handcuffs for not paying the bill. Debtors prisons were abolished in the 1830s, but more than a third of all states allow police to arrest people who haven’t paid bills. Find a newspaper or Internet article about people or companies dealing with debts for unpaid bills. As a class, discuss the fairest way to handle such situations.

Core/National Standards: Coming to discussions prepared and following rules for collegial discussion.

3. Let’s Talk About This

Dr. David Pilgrim uses intolerance to teach tolerance. Pilgrim heads up the Diversity and Inclusion Office at Ferris University in Big Rapids, Michigan, and also is the founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum. The museum holds a 5,000-piece collection of racist memorabilia spanning the period from Reconstruction right after the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. “Jim Crow” is a term used to describe laws, practices and attitudes that discriminated against African Americans, and Pilgrim’s collection includes everything from signs saying “No Colored Allowed” to a full-size replica of a lynching tree. Pilgrim said in a Detroit Free-Press article that his intention with the museum isn’t to offend or have people quietly reflect on the objects. He wants people talking. “The only real value of the museum has been to really engage people in dialogue,” Pilgrim said. Many of the displays should spark conversation, starting with the wide use of the N-word, which is prevalent throughout. Find a newspaper article about discrimination, unfair treatment or racism. As a class, discuss the ways racial attitudes affect the way people treat each other today.

Core/National Standard: Posing questions that elicit elaboration and responding to others’ questions and comments.

4. Changing Things Up

You probably already have people asking you what you want to be when you grow up. Some of you may have an idea of what interests you, but others may have no clue. And that’s OK. Even grown-ups with college degrees don’t always become what they studied to be. Alicia Quihuis, for example, spent years studying biochemistry at Arizona State University to pursue a career in medical research. After working in a lab for 2 1/2 years, however, she dumped Petri dishes and microscopes for ice cream and other treats. She opened an ice cream and cupcake shop in a Tempe, Arizona, storefront that was built and owned by her grandfather. She is getting help in her new venture from her father and younger brother. Search the newspaper for a story about someone changing careers. Or find one online. Write a summary of the article.

Core/National Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts and information.

5. To Vaccinate or Not

Smallpox, polio, measles and diphtheria almost are a thing of the past in the United States. The huge drops in deaths from these diseases can be attributed to childhood vaccinations. Most states require a child to be vaccinated before entering kindergarten. But not all parents believe in vaccinating their children. A debate is raging in the state of Vermont right now over the public health benefit of vaccinations and a parent’s right to opt out. The state’s Senate has voted to eliminate the vaccine exemption and the House has voted to keep it after an outbreak of pertussis, or whooping cough. Search the newspaper or Internet for a story on a disease for which a vaccination exists. Working in teams, do further research on the disease and the benefits and risks of vaccination. Then give a multi-media presentation on the pros and cons of vaccinating against that disease.

Core/National Standard: Using technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and linking to and citing sources.