For Grades 5-8 , week of Sep. 07, 2020

1. Words to Live By

Actor Chadwick Boseman, who died of cancer at just age 43, was a movie star who brought to life characters ranging from the Black Panther, to Jackie Robinson, to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He also was a college graduate who believed in the power of individuals to bring change to the world. In a 2018 commencement address at Howard University, from which he graduated in the year 2000, he urged students to find their purpose and to embrace hardship, protest and even confrontation to realize it. “Sometimes you need to get knocked down before you can really figure out what your fight is and how you need to fight it,” he said. “… Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose. … If you are willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes, the one that has ultimately proven to have more meaning, more victory, more glory, then you will not regret it.” Graduation speakers usually offer advice to the students they are speaking to. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about messages people have offered in graduation speeches. Then pretend you have been asked to give a speech to students going back to school this fall during the coronavirus emergency. Write out advice you would give so that students can make the most of the situation. Your advice can be in the form of a list or bullet points if you like.

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.

2. Great Blue Rescue

With long legs and a wingspan of more than six feet, the great blue heron is the largest wading bird in North America. With its long, sharp beak, it can spear fish to eat and ward off a wide range of predators. As formidable as these herons are, even they need help sometimes. And one in the state of Florida was lucky to get it from a pair of neighbors in the community of Palm Harbors on the state’s west coast. Carolyn Burgin and Pat Mead took action when they saw a great blue in a nearby waterway with what they first thought was a fish speared on its beak, UPI News reported. Looking more closely, they realized the heron had speared a milkshake lid from McDonald’s and couldn’t get it off. They called wildlife officials who used a live fish to lure the heron into a snare trap. Kim Begay of the Clearwater Audubon Society was able to remove the lid and take the bird to a wildlife sanctuary, which determined it was malnourished and dehydrated. “Ninety-eight percent of the time a bird in that situation would die,” Begay said. This one is expected to fully recover. People often step in to help or rescue wildlife that face problems. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people helping wildlife in some way. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor calling attention to some of the challenges and problems that wildlife face.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

3. Equality in Lights

In the #metoo and #blacklivesmatter era, communities all over the world are looking for ways to achieve greater gender and racial equality. In the Asian city of Mumbai, India, officials are turning their attention to crosswalk lights. Starting this fall, the city will add female figures to go with the male stick figures that have long graced the lights that tell pedestrians when to walk or stay on the curb. The change signals that the city is “ensuring gender equality with a simple idea,” a cabinet minister said. “The signals now have women too!” The program has gotten mixed reviews from the public. While some observers have praised it as “a significant step towards #WomenEmpowerment,” others say it trivializes serious issues affecting women. “Real empowerment comes when the law protects the dignity of women,” one social media user tweeted. “Not merely putting them on traffic lights.” Many communities are taking steps to ensure greater equality or opportunity for women or minorities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about steps different communities are taking. Use what you read to write a personal or political column analyzing various approaches and giving your views on steps that are the most important to take.

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. Climb Every Mountain

People often challenge themselves to achieve new heights of success. A woman from the city of Denver, Colorado is doing that quite literally. To raise money for families and individuals in developing countries, Brittany Woodrum has challenged herself to climb to the summit of every mountain in Colorado that has a peak more than 14,000 feet above sea level. That’s a lot of peaks in Colorado, which has a whopping 58 of the 14,000-plus peaks. So far Woodrum has climbed more than 40 of the peaks (sometimes doing two in a day) and raised more than $55,000 for ShelterBox, a non-profit that offers shelter and aid to people who have lost everything due to natural disasters, war or other causes. The group “believe[s] in shelter as a human right” and “provide[s] the tools that enable people to rebuild homes and transform their lives.” Supplies like tents and tools are delivered in a bright turquoise box, an example of which Woodrum wears on her back on each of her climbs. People often challenge themselves to perform difficult tasks. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend outlining what training, preparation and attitude the person needed to meet the challenge. Discuss ways you and your friends have challenged yourselves.

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.

5. High-Cost Crash

For people who love cars, it’s a great experience to own a high-priced, flashy model. Unless you get in an accident. In the European nation of Switzerland, a Mercedes, a Porsche and a Bugatti were involved in a crash in the Alps mountains and the combined damage was an eye-popping $4-million. The crash occurred when the cars tried to pass a slow-moving motor home on the high-altitude road, police said. The Bugatti and Porsche collided while trying pass at the same time and then hit the Mercedes. The Bugatti Chiron is the most expensive of the cars involved with a value of $3-million. Its grille, front bumper and hood were damaged in the accident. There were no casualties in the crash, but the driver of the Mercedes had to be taken to the hospital. People often dream of owning a special or fancy car. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories and ads of cars you might like to have. Use what you find to write a poem, rap or rhyme describing “My Dream Car.” Your poems don’t need to rhyme but should use lots of colorful verbs and adjectives.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.