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For Grades K-4 , week of June 19, 2017

1. A Close Look at Jupiter

Jupiter is the biggest planet in the Earth’s solar system, but for years scientists didn’t know much about it. Now, for the first time, the Juno space mission is shedding light on what the planet is like underneath its heavy cloud cover. The Juno craft is sending back images and data that are changing the way scientists think about the planet that is more than 365 million miles from Earth. During close-up flybys, the orbiter has peeked beneath Jupiter’s clouds to discover cyclones near its poles and violent weather systems in an atmosphere rich in the gas ammonia. “The general theme of our discoveries is really how different Jupiter looked from how we expected,” said the mission’s principal investigator. Space missions give scientists new images and information for understanding planets or space activity. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a space mission that is providing pictures or information to scientists. Use what you read to write a paragraph, explaining the most important things provided by the mission and why they are important.

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. Hit Song in Spanish

The song “Despacito” has been getting a lot of attention this spring on the radio and Internet. It’s performed by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and reggaetón star Daddy Yankee (with appearances by Justin Bieber), and it reached Number 1 on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 list for four weeks in a row in May and June. In doing so, it became the first Spanish language song to reach the top spot in the United States since “Macarena” in 1996. “Despacito,” which means “slowly” in Spanish, has broken language and cultural barriers in the United States, and that’s “what I’m most proud of,” Fonsi says. It also led Billboard's streaming songs chart with 69.6 million streams and digital song sales of 148,000 downloads. “Despacito” has become one of the most popular songs of the spring. As a class, discuss other popular songs you like. Then pick one and write a music review of it, giving your opinion on why you think it is a good song. Include specific evidence in your review from the tune or words.

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.

3. Baby Sleep

One of the challenges faced by parents is getting new babies to sleep through the night. According to a new study, the sooner babies sleep in their own rooms, the longer they'll sleep. Surveys from 230 first-time mothers at Penn State, showed that 9-month-old babies sleeping in their own rooms slept an average of 40 minutes longer at night compared with those sharing a room with their parents. At 2½ years old, toddlers who began sleeping alone by 9 months slept 45 minutes longer per night, according to Dr. Ian Paul, who conducted the study. The findings suggest a different approach than advice from the organization representing America’s children’s doctors. That group recommends that parents share a room — but not a bed — with infants for at least six months to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which can occur when babies are sleeping. Children’s health often makes news because it affects so many families. As a class, closely read a story about an issue involving the health of children your age or younger. Use what you read to design a poster showing the most important things families should know about the issue.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

4. A Special Pitch

Dylan Rosnick was born with a rare birth defect that made the fingers on his hands overly long. That made it difficult to learn to tie his shoes, hold a pencil, button his shirt or brush his teeth. But it gave the high school baseball player from Virginia something special — a curve ball that is almost impossible to hit when he pitches. Rosnick’s fingers are huge — six inches long and the width of an extra wide thumb. They give him the ability to grip the ball and apply pressure in ways that result in hard-to-hit curve balls and splitter pitches. Rosnick was the long relief pitcher for his high school team and pitched well enough to be selected a second team all-star in his division. After graduating this spring, he will attend Christopher Newport University in hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher. Athletes often make news with special skills or special achievements. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an athlete doing something special. Use what you read to write a letter to the athlete, asking him or her five questions you would like to have answered about the athlete’s achievement. If you like, mail your letters to the athlete you chose.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; closely reading written or visual texts to make logical inferences from it.

5. What a Gem!

Talk about finding hidden treasure! A diamond ring purchased for $13 at a flea market in the belief it was imitation jewelry, turned out to be the real deal — and has sold for $847,667! The ring was first purchased in the 1980s by a buyer who assumed it was a piece of costume jewelry. Years later the owner had it examined by a jeweler and discovered it was a real diamond from the 1800s. The 26-carat diamond was cut in an old-fashioned cushion shape and its silver setting was tarnished and dirty, making it hard to see its value. The sale price was roughly double what experts had thought the ring would bring at the Sotheby’s Fine Jewels auction in London, England. Experts believe the ring originally was owned by royalty or someone of great wealth. People often experience unexpected good luck in their lives. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has had good luck. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing things that could happen to the person as a result of this good luck. Share and discuss as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.