For Grades 5-8 , week of July 11, 2022

1. Milestone Hockey Hire

In its 105-year history, the National Hockey League has been an overwhelmingly White sport, with 97 percent of players identifying as White and just 3 percent identifying as Black or another minority, according to a study by USA Today. Even fewer Blacks have gotten opportunities as coaches or leaders in management. This month, the league made history, however, when the San Jose Sharks hired Mike Grier as the NHL’s first Black general manager. Grier, who played 14 years in the league, comes to the Sharks from a position as a hockey operations adviser with the New York Rangers, where he reported to the team’s president and general manager. Prior to that he was a scout for the Chicago Black Hawks and an assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils. “I am extremely proud and grateful to be given the opportunity to be the general manager of the San Jose Sharks,” the 47-year-old Grier said. “ … I look forward to the challenge of building a fast, competitive and hardworking team that Sharks fans will enjoy watching.” Grier is not the only sports executive in his family. His brother Chris is the general manager of the Miami Dolphins in the National Football League. African Americans, Blacks and other minorities continue to break new ground in sports and other career fields. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a person of color who is a trailblazer in his or her career. Use what you read to write a personal column detailing the obstacles this person had to overcome to become a trailblazer and challenges they will face in their new position. Discuss with family and friends.

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. Whopper Python

Burmese pythons are among the largest snakes in the world, and in the Everglades swamps of the state of Florida, they are causing big, big problems. Introduced as an “invasive species” by people who had owned them as pets, they have over-run the Everglades National Park and wetlands areas, feeding on birds, rabbits and even small deer and taking food away from native wildlife like panthers, bobcats and alligators. How big a problem have the pythons become? This year a conservation group announced it had captured the largest Burmese python ever found in Florida — a female that was 18 feet long and weighed 215 pounds! It was 75 pounds heavier than the largest python ever captured in the Everglades, and the female had 122 eggs inside her, another record for the state. Each of those eggs could grow up to become another huge python. To reduce the python population, Florida wildlife officials train and hire private individuals to hunt them, and the state runs the Florida Python Challenge, in which the public is encouraged to hunt and remove pythons for a prize. The challenge will run from August 5 to 14 this year. Invasive species are problems in many states because they invade natural areas and jeopardize native plants and animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an invasive plant or wildlife species in your state or region. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing the problem and outlining ways people or government leaders could address it.

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. Subway Change

The Subway restaurant chain is one of the largest in the world, with nearly 21,000 stores in the United States and almost 37,000 worldwide. It has built its following among fast-food fans with its emphasis on healthy ingredients and a motto that customers should “Eat Fresh” when they want a quick meal. For most customers, that has meant picking and choosing from a menu of fresh ingredients and breads in a “build your own” approach that gave them customized sandwiches. Now, in an effort to speed up service, Subway is going in a new direction, featuring 12 pre-designed sandwiches on its menu in what it calls its “Subway Series.” The new menu, which is the company’s most extensive makeover in nearly 60 years, is divided in to four categories — cheesesteaks, Italianos, chicken and clubs. Each category consists of three sandwiches each, and all are new to the menu, CNN News reports. Customers can still choose personal favorites, but the new menu is designed to get them “to explore new options beyond their beloved build-your-own customization[s].” Businesses often try new things to update their offerings, appeal to a wider audience or become more profitable. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a business trying something new. Use what you read, and personal knowledge, to write a business column assessing the company’s plans and whether you think they will be successful. What risks are involved in taking this new approach?

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.

4. A Very Worldly Dog

It’s often said that dogs are “man’s best friend” (and women’s, too). But few pooches have been as devoted as a retriever adopted by a man from the state of New Jersey. The dog named Savannah accompanied Tom Turcich on a walk around the world that covered 28,000 miles, 38 countries, six continents and seven years. Turcich was not the first to circle the globe on foot — nine others have done it — but Savannah became the first dog to do it. Turcich, who is 33, adopted Savannah in the state of Texas to keep him company and “stand watch” at night when they were camping out. Turcich and Savannah covered 18 to 24 miles per day, and he documented his journey on Instagram and an Internet blog called “The World Walk.” He now plans to write a book about his adventure, and, of course, Savannah will have a featured role. “She had so much more energy than I did, always,” he told CNN News. “There were times when we were going through the desert and I would collapse at the end of the day and she’d come over with a stick and want to play.” People and animals often have a special bond between them. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person who has such a relationship with an animal. Use what you read to plan a video telling the story of this relationship. Write an outline for your video and detail what images and text you would include in the first scene. Share with family and friends.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; 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.

5. Eiffel Fixer-Upper

The Eiffel Tower in the European city of Paris, France, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world. It draws about 6-million visitors every year and will draw even more when Paris hosts the Summer Olympic Games in July and August of 2024. To get ready for the Olympics, the 1,083-foot tower is getting a new paint job at a cost of more than $61-million. But according to secret reports on the tower’s condition, it needs a lot more than paint. The reports indicate much of the structure is in need of greater repair due to damage from rust on the iron beams, the French magazine Marianne reports. The Eiffel Tower (pronounced I-fell) was built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World’s Fair and is considered the most well-known symbol of Paris and France. It contains more than 18,000 iron parts connected by 2.5-million metal rivets. Maintenance is always a big issue for public structures like towers, bridges and buildings. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a structure that needs maintenance or repair. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining how badly the structure needs repair, how much it will cost and how it should be funded.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.