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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 09, 2017

1. Words for Las Vegas

Until a gunman killed more than 58 people at a concert in Las Vegas, Nevada this month, an attack at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida was America’s most deadly mass shooting. Forty-nine people were killed at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub last year, and one of the survivors has a message for Las Vegas. “As it did so many months ago, gun violence is again tearing at the seams of the country,” he wrote in a commentary for the CNN news network. “To the people impacted in Las Vegas: We love you. I love you. If I have learned any lesson from the dark road to recovery from mass violence, it is that we all need love more than we would like to admit. Stand together. Link arms. Embrace. And know that while you begin the work of healing a deep wound, Orlando is standing with you.” People all over the country are offering words of support and sympathy to the families of the concert goers killed or wounded in Las Vegas. In the newspaper or online, closely read some of the messages. Then write a short editorial, giving your views on how your community could show support for those affected by doing something positive in their name.

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. Hate Speech Crackdown

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have made communication easier and faster all over the world. They also have made it easier to spread hate speech and fake news. On the continent of Europe, nations that are part of the European Union want Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies to do something about the problem. If they don’t take stronger steps to rid their platforms of hate speech, they could face laws that would impose substantial cash penalties for non-compliance, Union officials said this month. The Union’s regulatory European Commission said it wants the companies to spend more money to detect hate speech and do a better job preventing hate content from reappearing. “In more than 28% of cases, it takes more than one week for online platforms to take down illegal content,” said one Union official. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the spread of hate speech on social media. Use what you read to draw an editorial cartoon showing the effect of spreading hate speech this way. An editorial cartoon uses art to express an opinion, often by exaggerating the features of people and things involved. Discuss cartoons 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.

3. Now a Sports Owner

Laurene Powell Jobs is a billionaire, a philanthropist and a business entrepreneur. She is a very influential woman and she soon will be extending her influence in a new field. She is buying a significant share of the Washington, D.C. sports company that includes the NBA’s Wizards, the NHL’s Capitals and the Capital One Arena. Powell Jobs’s investment will give her the second-largest stake in the company and significant influence in the male-dominated ownership ranks of professional sports leagues. Powell Jobs is one of the wealthiest women in the world, largely due to her stock in Apple, the computer and technology company co-founded by her late husband Steve Jobs. She is estimated to be worth about $20 billion. Few women have ownership roles in the “Big Four” pro sports leagues for baseball, football, basketball and hockey. In the newspaper or online, closely read stories about women who have top positions in sports. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay discussing what different perspective a woman might bring to running a sports team, and what effect that could have.

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.

4. Internal Clocks & Sleep

All living things have an internal clock that helps determine why they are awake during the day and asleep at night. This clock, known as “circadian rhythm,” also helps regulate eating habits, blood pressure and body temperature, and nighttime plant behaviors. For discovering a gene that controls the circadian rhythms of animals, humans and plants, three U.S. scientists have been awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2017. Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young will split a prize award of $1.1 million for their work. Nobel Prizes reward scientists for breakthroughs in research. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another research breakthrough. Use what you read to write a personal letter to a friend, explaining the ways this breakthrough adds to scientific knowledge. Try to explain the breakthrough using as clear and simple language as possible.

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.

5. Limerick Grammar

When people want to remember things, they sometimes make up sayings or even poems that are easy to recall. Founders of an Internet website have taken that idea even further — teaching grammar lessons with limerick poetry. The website is called The Omniscient English Dictionary in Limerick Form, or OEDILF for short. Its contributors write funny limericks to help people remember grammar rules. For example, “The Grocer’s Apostrophe” starts a lesson on the correct use of apostrophes by declaring:

The grocer was proud to unveil A big sign that read “Apple’s for Sale.” “That apostrophe's wrong! What’s the outcome? So long, I’ll shop elsewhere for apples!” I wail.

The lesson then explains how to remember the correct use of apostrophes. Limericks or rhyming poems can help people remember many things. In the newspaper or online, closely read a story that includes facts you would like to remember. Use your creativity to write a limerick or rhyming poem that contains key points. Share your poems with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.