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For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 21, 2017

1. The Biggest Dinosaur?

A 70-ton dinosaur discovered in South America may be the biggest dinosaur ever found — and it just has gotten a name. Fossil bones of the creature were found in the Patagonia region of Argentina, so it has been given the scientific name Patagotitan mayorum. “Patagotitan” means “giant from Patagonia” and “mayorum” honors the rancher family on whose property the fossil bones were found. Patagotitan is a member of the plant-eating family known as Titanosaurs, which lived 100 million years ago. Patagotitans had long necks, walked on four legs and were up to 120 feet long. More than 150 Patagotitan fossils have been found in the region, allowing scientists to create the most complete model of a large plant-eater in history. Scientists study fossils to get clues about what life and nature were like millions of years ago. What could future scientists learn about the wild animals living on Earth today? In the newspaper or online, find and study stories and photos of wild animals living today. Use what you read to write a paragraph detailing what fossils of one or more of these animals could tell future scientists. Discuss as a class.

Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Students Help Plan Meals

All over the country, students complain about the food served for school lunches. In Gwinnett County, Georgia, this fall, they’ll have themselves to blame if they don’t like the lunch menu. When planning better nutrition for lunches, Gwinnett County public schools asked students what they wanted. And what did the students say? More bold flavors! “They want well-seasoned food,” said Karen Hallford, assistant director of school nutrition. “They want fresh. They want to be able to customize … with toppings. And they also want variety. They want lots to choose from every day.” Adults often overlook kids when they want ideas on how to do things. But kids have creative ideas that adults might not think of. In teams or pairs, use the newspaper or Internet to closely read a story about a situation, issue, product or problem in which students are interested. Then write a paragraph outlining your ideas for dealing with the issue. Be creative!

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

3. Four Tiger Cubs!

In the European city of Hamburg, Germany, the local zoo had gone 15 years without the birth of a tiger cub. This summer it got four! In June a Siberian tiger named Maruschka gave birth to quadruplet cubs at the Tierpark Hagenbeck zoo — two males and two females. This month the furry foursome made their first public appearance, and fans are getting a chance to help name them. The zoo asked the public to choose from 10 names, five each for both the males and females. People love stories and photos about baby animals. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories and photos of baby animals you like. Use what you find to create a series of comic strips featuring two baby animals having adventures. Give your baby animals creative names!

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. Ban on Car Smoking

Second-hand cigarette smoke has been proven to be a health risk to people who inhale it, especially children. Now the city of Honolulu in the state of Hawaii is looking to reduce the risks for children riding in cars. A bill introduced by two city council members would ban smoking in cars if children are passengers. The bill, which would apply to E-cigarettes as well as those made of tobacco, would make Honolulu a leader in national efforts to protect children from second-hand smoke, supporters say. “Exposure to second-hand smoke, even with the [car] windows down can be harmful,” says Trish La Chica, policy and advocacy director with the Hawaii Public Health Institute. Children’s health issues are often in the news because they affect so many families. In teams or as a class, find and closely read a story about a health issue affecting children. Write three complete sentences summarizing three important things families should know about the issue.

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.

5. New Orleans Flooded

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, deadly flooding destroyed much of New Orleans, Louisiana. This month, a deluge of heavy rain gave residents a reminder of what Katrina’s flooding was like. A thunderstorm dropped as much as nine inches of rain in just four hours, and the resulting flood overwhelmed the city’s pump system. Central New Orleans was covered in several feet of water, prompting 200 “life-threatening” emergency calls, according to city records. It took 14 hours for the streets to drain. Extreme weather often is in the news during the summer months. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about violent or extreme weather. Write a letter to the editor, outlining things people could do to stay safe in such weather.

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.