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Grades 5-8
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for Grades K-4

Sep. 16, 2019
Sep. 09, 2019
Sep. 02, 2019
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July 29, 2019
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Mar. 25, 2019
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For Grades K-4 , week of Apr 15, 2019

1. Giant Easter Egg

At this time of year, many communities hold Easter egg hunts to entertain children for the Easter holiday. In a South American town in the nation of Brazil, people won’t have to hunt very hard to find an Easter egg. The town of Pomerode has created the world’s largest decorated Easter egg, and earned a Guinness World Record for the effort. Created for the Osterfest Easter festival, the egg stands nearly 50 feet tall and is more than 26 feet wide. It has a steel frame and a foam-and-canvas covering and is painted in colors of pink, yellow, red and orange. The giant egg is not the first time Pomerode has set a world record. In 2017, the town created the world’s largest Easter egg tree, with 82,404 decorated eggs hanging from its branches. Easter celebrations are a spring tradition in many communities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another spring tradition. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a creative story that would be connected to this tradition. What characters would be in your story? Pick two and write a paragraph for each describing what they would be like — and what role they would have in the story.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. Hero 9-Year-Old

Babysitters are supposed to take care of children, but in the state of Iowa, a young child took care of the babysitter. In fact, the actions of 9-year-old Madelyn White may well have saved the babysitter’s life. Madelyn was forced to take charge when babysitter Caitlin Rogers suffered a seizure while sitting in a chair at the Whites’ home in the city of Centerville. Madelyn first called her parents to ask what to do and then called 911. She calmly told the dispatcher “We have a babysitter, and she fell asleep, and she is spitting out blood, and she won’t talk to us.” To help the dispatcher, she checked to see if Rogers was breathing, all the while trying to keep her younger siblings calm. “I said, ‘It’s fine. I am on the phone with 911. It will be OK” she told a local TV station. Young children often do amazing or important things for others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a young child doing something like this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, telling what the child did and why adults should not undervalue the ways children can help.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions;

3. Heavy Duty Run

Firefighters have highly challenging jobs and often have to perform them wearing heavy equipment. To demonstrate how hard their jobs are, a firefighter from York, Pennsylvania ran a 13.1-mile half marathon this month wearing 50 pounds of equipment. Ryan Robeson ran in boots, a heavy coat, protective pants, a hood, gloves, a face piece and a helmet. He also carried and breathed through an oxygen tank. “This was to raise awareness for how hard firefighters work and the stress that’s put on their bodies,” Robeson told CNN News after the race. Robeson, 28, also raised $5,800 for two local charities by running. He has been a firefighter for three years. Firefighters help people in the community in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a firefighter helping others. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a one-minute TV ad thanking firefighters for all they do. Write the text for your ad and read it aloud to make sure it doesn’t run longer than one minute. List photos or images that would go with your ad.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Tall, Tall Tulip

In the world of flowers, tulips are one of the most popular attractions of spring. In the city of London, England, a giant tulip soon will become an attraction all year round. This tulip is a skyscraper, and it will become the tallest building in the financial district of the European city. It will not house offices, however. The Tulip building will be a tourist attraction, containing galleries, a bar and restaurants offering views of the city from the glass “bud” at the top of the structure. Planners say the building will be a “cultural and educational resource” that will attract up to 1.2 million visitors a year. Construction is expected to begin in 2020. Many communities have special buildings that attract attention by their design or purpose. In the newspaper or online, find a photo of a special or unusual building. Pretend you are a writer who reports on buildings in the community or around the world. Write a “review” of the building you picked, describing how it is unusual, how people might respond to it and how it might make people feel about their community. Finish by telling what you think of the building.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Lucky Shark

Surfers and sharks are not usually the best of friends. But a baby great white shark in the nation of South Africa was saved from death by the actions of local surfers. The shark had become stranded on rocks by large waves in Victoria Bay on the nation’s southern coast, and could not get back to open water. The surfers put the shark on a surfboard and moved it to another location for release. According to a video of the rescue, the shark was able to swim away after being freed from the rocks. People often go out of their way to help animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone helping an animal. Pretend you are the animal and write a paragraph telling how you felt when you got the help. Finish by writing what would be the first thing you would do after being helped.

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.

For Grades K-4 , week of Apr 15, 2019

1. Homeland Turmoil

President Trump is cleaning house at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Displeased that the department was not taking “tougher” steps to deal with immigration problems, he forced out department secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and rescinded his nomination of Ronald Vitiello to be director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. At the urging of advisor Stephen Miller, the President is seeking to install more people with a “hard-line” attitude about immigrants. Adding to the turmoil, U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph D. “Tex” Alles, who answered to Nielsen, abruptly resigned. President Trump’s desire to take a “tougher” approach to immigration problems is causing debate across the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how people are reacting. Use what you read to write a news analysis of what is happening and what you think will happen next.

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.

2. Fast Gun Action

In the United States, there has been great debate over how to stop the violence of mass shootings, but lawmakers have not been able to agree on ways to restrict ownership or control the most high-powered weapons. In the southern Pacific nation of New Zealand, lawmakers didn’t have a problem figuring out what to do after a man with a high-powered weapon killed 50 people as they worshiped in two Muslim mosques. Less than a month after the attacks, New Zealand’s Parliament overwhelmingly voted to ban military style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. The measure had been pushed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and supported by Muslim leaders. “This is a law that should have been passed many years ago,” said the president of New Zealand’s Federation of Islamic Associations. Efforts to restrict gun ownership or ban high-powered weapons have been resisted by many political leaders. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories outlining their reasoning for their position. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper explaining their position to those who may not understand it. For additional challenge, repeat the activity outlining the positions of leaders who support greater controls on gun ownership and weapons.

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.

3. Seeing a Black Hole

In outer space, black holes are so dense and powerful they suck in everything around them — even light. The existence of black holes had been confirmed by scientists by measuring the energy they give off, but until now no one had never seen what they looked like. That changed this month, when scientists released the first-ever photo taken of a black hole in action. The black hole is in the galaxy known as Messier 87 located 55-million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Virgo. It looks like a dark circle inside a ring of light. The photo of the black hole was achieved by combining the data collected by a worldwide network of radio telescopes. “We have seen what we thought was unseeable,” said Shep Doeleman, an astronomer who directed the effort to capture the image. Getting a photo of a black hole was a major breakthrough for scientists who study space. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another breakthrough in space research. Use what you read to prepare a short oral report for the class, explaining the breakthrough and why it is important. Use images from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your report.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusion; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. #DontMuteDC

In many communities people complain about music being played too loud, too often or at the wrong time of day. It’s less common that residents complain that neighborhood music has been turned off. Yet that’s what has happened in Washington, DC, after officials ordered a local store to stop broadcasting music out over the intersection where it is located. Now residents have started a petition drive — #DontMuteDC — to get the music turned back on. At the center of the controversy is the Central Communications electronics store that is affiliated with the T-Mobile phone company. Since 1995, the store has played “go-go” music outside, celebrating the musical style that had its roots in Washington and blends funk, rhythm-and-blues and hip-hop. Recently, however, a resident of a luxury apartment complex nearby complained to T-Mobile about the sound of “go-go” coming from the store, the Washington Post reported. T-Mobile asked the owner to turn it off. Immediately, African American residents of the neighborhood missed it, asking “Where’s my go-go music?” Protests and community meetings followed, and residents were trying to work with T-Mobile to resolve the situation. The “go-go” controversy in Washington is an example of tensions that can occur when neighborhoods change or “gentrify.” The values of new residents may conflict with those of long-term residents and cause debate or controversy. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about tension or conflict that is occurring in a changing neighborhood. Use what you read to write a short editorial, offering a way to resolve the tension. How much should the history of the neighborhood be considered?

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Facial Recognition

All over the world, facial recognition technology is being used in new and unusual ways. In the Asian nation of China, it is now being used to make commuting faster on subways. In the city of Jinan, commuters who download a new facial recognition app can pay their fare and pass through the turnstile in a matter of seconds just by looking at a camera that holds their appearance data. The system allows 30 to 40 passengers to pass through the turnstile every minute, a huge improvement for the heavily traveled subways. The Jinan Rail Transit Group says the system has a failure rate of just one in a million. Facial recognition is an example of technology being used in a new way. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another way technology is being used in a new way. Use what you read to write a consumer column, explaining the new use, how it can help people and possible problems that could occur.

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.