, week of
Nov. 20, 2017
1. Harry Potter Excitement
This year marks 20 years since the first Harry Potter book came out in the European nation of Great Britain. And a huge celebration is going on in the city of London. At the center of the celebration is a new exhibit at the British Library that features drawings by author J.K. Rowling, hand written parts of the story and rooms set up like the classrooms of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There’s even the first “review” of Rowling’s work — from the 8-year-old daughter of the of the company that published her first book. “The excitement in this book made me feel warm inside,” Alice Newton wrote on a piece of paper. “I think it is possibly one of the best books an 8/9-year-old could read.” In newspapers or online, book reviewers tell readers about books they might like, and why. Think of a book you have enjoyed in school or on your own. Write a short review telling others why you liked the book and why you would recommend it to others. Be sure to use specific evidence and details from the book to support your opinions. Draw a picture to go with your review, if you like.
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. Bonobos and Humans
Great apes are humans’ closet relatives in nature, and for years scientists have felt that the apes known as bonobos are the most like people. Now scientists have new proof. Researchers studying bonobos at a nature preserve in Africa have found that bonobos will offer to help other bonobos without being asked — and expect nothing in return. Like many humans, the bonobos “may simply be eager to make a good first impression,” researchers said after observing the behavior of bonobos at a sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In an experiment set up by the researchers, bonobos that didn’t know each other worked with each other to get a piece of apple hung from a rope just out of reach. The experiment showed that bonobos were more likely to climb a fence to free the apple if another bonobo was in a position to retrieve it. Scientists study wild animals to learn more about their behavior, skills and habits. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wild animal that interests you. Use what you read to design a poster highlighting important behavior, skills and habits the animal has. Give your poster an eye-catching title.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
3. Earning All the Badges!
In the world of scouting, a Boy Scout has to earn 21 merit badges to become an Eagle Scout. But in the town of East Setauket, New York, scout John Ninia wasn’t satisfied with that. He worked to earn every merit badge available in the Eagle Scout program — 137 in all! It took a while to do it — he started in elementary school and he’s now 17. But in reaching his goal he became one of the few scouts to earn all the Eagle badges in the 107-year history of the Boy Scouts. Along the way, Ninia learned about cooking, art, white water rafting and scuba diving. He mined for minerals, mastered water skiing and learned to weld metals together. Welding was his favorite badge, but he found all of them “helpful in letting me know what I’m into, what I’m not into, [and] what to make a possible career out of.” The things you like to do and study as a student can give you ideas about careers you might like as an adult. With a partner use the newspaper and Internet to find photos and stories about three things you like to do or subjects you like to study. Choose different types of activities and make a list for each of careers that could grow out of this interest. Present your findings to the class in a short oral report. Use photos from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your report.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
4. Driverless Accident
Will driverless cars be the way people get around in the future? Car and technology companies think so and are spending millions of dollars to develop self-driving cars that are programmed to avoid accidents. The technology may still need some work, however, after a self-driving bus was involved in an accident on its very first day. The eight-person, electric shuttle bus was struck by a delivery truck on the streets of Las Vegas, Nevada, when the truck driver unexpectedly backed up on the bus. Officials said the bus had stopped but its technology could not control the actions of the truck. “Had the truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle has, the accident would have been avoided,” officials said. Driverless cars are an example of technology being used in a new way. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another new use of technology. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining what the technology does, how it was developed and how that benefits people.
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. Youngest Head Coach
In the National Football League, one of the biggest surprises this season has been the performance of the Los Angeles Rams. Even more surprising is who has been the mastermind of that success — the youngest head coach in the modern history of the league. Head coach Sean McVay, is just 31 years old, which makes him younger than some of his players. It hasn’t mattered. McVay has turned a team that finished 4-12 a year ago into one that ended the first half of the season 6-2 and in first place in the NFC West. He also has turned quarterback Jared Goff from a disappointment to a performer mentioned as a possible Most Valuable Player. Each season in every sport, there are players and teams that surprise fans by doing things that were not expected. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a player or team that is a surprise to fans this year. Use what you read to write a short sports column giving reasons why the player or team is performing in a surprising way.
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