For Grades 5-8 , week of Sep. 28, 2020

1. The First Debate

Face-to-face debates give voters a chance to decide for themselves how well-informed candidates are, how they conduct themselves and how well they “think on their feet” under pressure. On Tuesday night the nation will get to watch the first of three face-to-face debates between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger and former Vice President Joe Biden. Unlike other debates, the topics have been announced in advance for the showdown in Cleveland, Ohio. The topics Trump and Biden will be quizzed on are: the response to the coronavirus epidemic; the Supreme Court; race and violence in U.S. cities; the Trump and Biden records; the economy, and the integrity of the election. The Commission on Presidential Debates said it revealed the topics in advance “in order to encourage deep discussion of the leading issues facing the country.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories written before and after the first presidential debate. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing what were the most important developments for each candidate — and whether they were predicted.

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.

2. ‘Greek Freak’ MVP

Basketball star Giannis Antetokounmpo is known as “the Greek Freak,” and for the second straight year his freakishly great talents have earned him the Most Valuable Player award in the National Basketball Association. The Milwaukee Bucks star also was named Defensive Player of the Year, making him just the third player to earn the MVP and defensive awards in the same year. Antetokounmpo, who was born in the European city of Athens, Greece, averaged 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists to earn his second MVP award at just 25 years old. He also was named to the all-NBA first team and all-defensive first team. Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James finished second in the MVP voting. Shooting guard James Harden of the Houston Rockets finished third. By earning his second MVP award, Giannis Antetokounmpo has had repeated success in the NBA. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read about another person who has had repeated success in sports or another career field. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend, describing what skills and personal qualities the person had to earn success again and again. Include what skills and qualities you have that could lead to repeated success.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

3. TP Vocabulary

In the Asian nation of China, learning English is a top goal for students seeking to go on to college. To help them along, a company in Guangdong Province is printing up easy-to-find vocabulary words — on toilet paper! The words have been selected by English teachers as the most commonly used in conversation and writing by college students, the Global Times newspaper reported. And the vocabulary TP has proved popular with families of middle and high school students. It doesn’t hurt that the paper has been promoted as a way to help “straight-A students” improve their English skills — a goal shared by many ambitious Chinese families who want their children to get into good schools in China or other countries. There are many ways to expand your vocabulary and vocabulary skills. One of those is by regularly reading news stories. In the newspaper or online find and closely read several stories on topics that interest you. Then read stories on topics with which you are less familiar. Make a list of words you don’t know and write what you think they mean from their context in the stories. Look them up in a dictionary and see how close you were to determining their meaning. Finish by using each in an original sentence of your own.

Common Core State Standards: Applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

4. ‘Nowhere’ Travel

The coronavirus epidemic has caused a huge reduction in international travel, because many nations don’t want travelers from other countries. To drum up business, some airlines are now offering scenic “flights to nowhere” for people who want to fly. The flights will take off and land from the same city and fly over landmarks that can be seen from the air, the Washington Post newspaper reports. In the South Pacific nation of Australia, for example, the Qantas airline will offer a flight next month that will fly at low altitudes over the Great Barrier Reef, the Uluru monolith natural attraction and the Australian Outback. Asian airlines from Taiwan and Japan have offered similar flights, the Post reports. The Qantas flight sold out in 10 minutes online, at ticket prices ranging from $575 and $2,765, according to the Reuters news service. “If the demand is there, we’ll definitely look at doing more of these scenic flights while we all wait for borders to open,” an airline spokeswoman said. If you could take a flight to see landmarks from the air, where would you go? In the newspaper or online, study stories and photos of places you would like to see on a “flight to nowhere.” Use what you read and other resources to learn what other landmarks are near those that interest you. Use a map to draw up a flight plan for seeing these sights on a single flight. Write a paragraph describing your flight and why people would be interested in taking it.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading and comprehending history/social studies texts independently and proficiently; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Name Change

Asbestos is a material that was once widely used to make things fireproof. It now has been banned in many countries because it has been linked to lung diseases and cancer. And its name is causing controversy in a Canadian town in the province of Quebec. The municipal council of the town of Asbestos has called for a vote next month to change the name that the community has had for decades. Asbestos originally was given the name because it had a large asbestos mine where many residents worked for more than 100 years. Municipal leaders now want to change that name because the health risks of asbestos create a negative image of the town. They have proposed four alternatives — Apalone, Jeffrey, Phénix and Trois-Lacs. Apalone is a local turtle, Jeffrey was the man who founded the asbestos mine, Phénix is the mythical bird that rose from the dead and Trois-Lacs is based on a local lake system. The choices have divided citizens, and some would just like to keep the town’s original name. Everyone older than age 14 will get to vote on the name change. Companies, sports teams and even communities sometimes change their names. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a name change that has taken place or is being planned. Write a paragraph explaining why the change is taking place. For added fun, find the name of a company, sports team or community that might want to consider changing its name. Write a second paragraph explaining why a name change might be in order, and offer suggestions for a new name.

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.