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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Sep. 04, 2017

1. Harvey Relief

Hurricane Harvey unleashed record-setting rain and destruction in the state of Texas. Now people all over the country are looking for ways to help victims of the storm. Some are donating to traditional relief agencies such as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Others are donating through Facebook or other social media. Still others are organizing fund-raising drives through local groups or religious organizations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about fund-raising efforts to help victims of Hurricane Harvey or the communities they live in. With classmates, family or friends, brainstorm ways students your age can raise money or collect materials needed for storm relief. Write a plan to put one or more effort into action.

Common Core State Standards: Closely reading written or visual text to make logical inferences from it; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. ‘Arc of Progress’ Life

In a lifetime that lasted 100 years, Ruth Odom Bonner lived through what former President Barack Obama called “the arc of our progress” as African Americans. Her father had been born into slavery in the South and in her lifetime she lived through persecution and discrimination, got to vote for an African American president and helped open the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. She and her great-granddaughter joined President Obama to ring a ceremonial church bell during the museum’s opening ceremonies. Ruth Bonner took pride in that day right up to her death August 25 in a nursing home in Maryland. “She was proud to be part of history,” said her granddaughter. “She was thankful that such an institution existed.” People who live long lives have experiences and wisdom to share with others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an elderly person who has had experiences that others could learn from. Write a paragraph summarizing wisdom or advice this person could offer. Then interview an elderly person in your life and ask them about things they have learned that they would share with others.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. Hip-Hop Doc

As a combat medic in Afghanistan, George “Doc” Todd saw violence, death and destruction first hand. After leaving the Navy, he suffered from anxiety and depression and had a hard time adjusting to civilian life. With the help of doctors and his family, he battled back from depression. And now he is reaching out to help other veterans — through music. He has written and performed an album called “Combat Medicine” that uses rap to offer advice on everything from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to survivor’s guilt to thoughts of suicide. “I was in combat medicine as my profession,” Todd says. “The album is intended to be medicine for people who have served in combat. … It's about ... trying to get back on your feet again.” Popular songs often contain messages that can help people facing important issues, problems or emotions. As a class, discuss musical artists you like whose work contains such messages. Then think like a music critic and write a review of one artist’s work, detailing how presenting important messages in a song is effective. Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.


In Thornton, Colorado, a crew digging at a construction site uncovered a 66-million-year-old skull that could help solve a long-standing mystery about the dinosaur triceratops. The discovery of the fossil skull and other bones could help explain why triceratops dinosaurs in Colorado are smaller than their cousins to the north in the states of Montana and North Dakota. “We don't really know why,” one dinosaur expert noted. “This might be one of the best skeletons to tell us why [Colorado] triceratops are smaller than … their cousins everywhere else.” Triceratops was a plant eater known for its three horns, head plate and sharp beak. The new fossil skeleton appears fairly complete and was well preserved by the sandy soil in which it was found, researchers said. Dinosaur discoveries are some of the most exciting events in science. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a new dinosaur discovery. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing what new things the discovery teaches scientists and fossil experts.

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.Gift from the Heart

Organ transplants from people who die unexpectedly now save thousands of lives a year. One of those was Alyssa Sandeen, who got a lifesaving heart when 20-year-old Jennifer Leekley was killed by a drunk driver in the state of Illinois. This summer Sandeen met with Leekley’s mother to say thank you — and to give her a one-of-a-kind gift. She recorded the sound of the heart she received from Leekley and had it inserted inside a teddy bear. “You can keep that with you, so you can hear it whenever you want,” she told Leekley’s mother. People often make news by doing generous, thoughtful or kind things for others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone doing something thoughtful or kind for another person. Use what you read to write a dialogue of what the two people might say to each other if they met afterwards.

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.