, week of
Feb. 12, 2018
1. New Dino Discovery
Scientists have learned a great deal about dinosaurs from fossil bones discovered on the continents of North America, Asia and Europe. Now the fossil discovery of a new plant-eater is shedding light on how dinosaurs lived on the continent of Africa. The plant-eater was a type of Titanosaurus, one of the largest land creatures ever to live on Earth. It was about the length of a school bus, weighed 10,000 pounds and had a long neck and bony plates on its skin. It was found in the Sahara Desert in the nation of Egypt in Northern Africa. Fossil finds have been rare in Africa, and scientists hope the new discovery will show how dinosaurs there are related to the dinosaurs found in nearby Europe and Asia. Fossils help tell scientists what life was like on Earth in the ancient past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a fossil discovery. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining what kind of fossil was discovered, and what information the discovery may give scientists about ancient life.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. Advice from a Star
Nick Foles is sitting on top of the world after leading the Philadelphia Eagles to an upset win in the Super Bowl and earning the game's Most Valuable Player award. Foles threw three touchdown passes and caught a fourth in the Eagles' win over the New England Patriots. But he hasn't forgotten how he got where he is, after being traded, released and serving as a backup the last two years. Asked what he would tell others about his experience, Foles said: "I think the big thing is don't be afraid to fail. … Failure is a part of life. That's a part of building character and growing. … Without failure, who would you be? I wouldn't be up here if I hadn't fallen thousands of times. … When you look at a struggle in your life, just know that's just an opportunity for your character to grow. … Embrace it. Because you're growing." The advice from Nick Foles was based on his experiences in life. As a class, talk about experiences you have had that you learned from. Then use one experience to write an advice column for the newspaper, telling readers some things you learned from the experience.
Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
3. The View from Mars
The Mars Rover named Curiosity has been exploring the surface of the solar system's Red Planet for five years. To celebrate, America's NASA space agency has released a special composite photo showing everything that Curiosity has seen in that time. The photo combines images that the spacecraft has taken in its journey on Mars - from the Gale Crater, where it landed, to the slopes of Mount Sharp, where it now sits. The photo includes images of sand dunes, eclipses, dust devils, sunsets, Martian moons and an ancient lake bed. Equipped with a drill, laser and chemistry set, Curiosity is the most complex NASA instrument ever put on Mars. The data it has collected from the planet's soil suggest Mars was once a beautiful planet of rivers and lakes. The mission of the space Rover named Curiosity has helped scientists learn more about the planet Mars. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another space mission that has provided new information. Write the word CURIOSITY down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter to start a phrase or sentence describing how the mission has added to what scientists know.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.
4. Cartoon Cruise Fun
Fans of TV's Cartoon Network love popular shows like "Adventure Time," "Dexter's Laboratory" and "The Powerpuff Girls." Soon they'll be able to go on vacation with characters from some of the network's shows. Later this year, a vacation cruise ship called the Cartoon Network Wave will be launched for kids and their families. The ship will feature colorful rooms inspired by series like "Adventure Time," and entertainment will include parties with "The Powerpuff Girls," circus shows and more. Up to 800 families at a time will be able to travel on the cruise ship, which is scheduled to launch late this year from the Asian city of Singapore. The Cartoon Network Wave ship will give kids and their families a chance to go on vacation with favorite TV characters. What TV characters would you like to go on vacation with? Use the newspaper or Internet to pick a show you like from TV listings. Think like a TV critic and write a column explaining why you would like to go on vacation with characters from this show.
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.
5. Pothole Plants
In late winter and early spring, potholes become a big problem on streets and highways. They are caused by water freezing in cracks and holes in the pavement and can be a headache for drivers. In New York City, one man decided to take action after he hit a pothole and damaged a tire. He started filling potholes with plants, flowers and even small bushes. "Would you rather hit a big pothole, or drive around a plant?" asks Coby Persin, the pothole filler. Some drivers have been amused by his effort, but not New York City officials. They say he not only is "putting himself in harm's way," but is "putting other people on the road in danger." Coby Persin is taking an unusual approach to solving a problem. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a problem that needs solving in your community or state. Use what you read to brainstorm an unusual way to deal with the problem. Write a letter to the editor, explaining your idea.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
Lessons & Classroom Activities
Resources by grade level