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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 01, 2018

1. A Huge Donation

Athletes and celebrities often can make a big difference in people’s lives. All-Star Texas Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels and his wife, Heidi, have done it in a big way. The Hamels couple have donated a mansion and land worth more than $9.4 million to the Camp Barnabas charity that provides camps for children with special needs and chronic illnesses. The property in southwest Missouri includes 100 acres of land and a huge 32,000-square-foot home. “Camp Barnabas makes dreams come true, and we felt called to help them in a big way,” Hamels said when announcing the donation. “… Reading the stories of the kids they serve, there is truly nothing like it.” Heidi Hamels grew up about 85 miles from the property, and she and her husband built it as their “dream home.” They never moved into it after Hamels was traded to the Rangers in 2015. Athletes and celebrities often help others, as individuals or through charity foundations they set up. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an athlete or celebrity helping others. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, thanking the person for his/her help and discussing how it helps individuals, groups or the community.

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.

2. Controversial Selfie

For the first time in 45 years, the Middle East nation of Iraq had a contestant in this year’s Miss Universe pageant. But a selfie photo taken by Miss Iraq Sarah Idan generated worldwide controversy that nearly cost her her title — and even caused death threats. The controversy was sparked by the partner Idan chose for the selfie — Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman. The Islamic nation of Iraq and the Jewish state of Israel don't have formal diplomatic relations, and the relationship between the countries has been tense at times. So even though Idan wrote that the picture was intended to promote “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel,” reaction in her home country was intense. Idan said the Miss Iraq organization warned her to take down the photo or she'd be stripped of her title, and she and her family received death threats online. Idan did not place in the Miss Universe pageant and is now pursuing a career as a singer/songwriter. In the Middle East, Israel has tense relations with many of its neighbors. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the relationship of Israel and one other nation. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper, summarizing the top issues, what is happening now and what you think will happen in the future.

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.

3. No Jackets!

School dress codes often cause controversy, but one in Mobile, Alabama has done so in an unusual way. Because school officials wanted to make sure students were wearing appropriate shirts and blouses, they banned the wearing of jackets inside Chastang Fournier School, which serves students in Grades K-8. Both students and parents were quick to protest the new policy, which took effect last month at a time when the weather in the morning is often chilly. One student who put his jacket back on because he was cold was suspended, his mother said. In the wake of the protests, school officials said they would reconsider the rule. School rules often are in the news because they affect so many families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a school rule that is causing controversy or debate. Use what you read to write a short editorial, summarizing the controversy and suggesting a solution.

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.

4. Distant Solar System

Could there be another solar system like the one that Earth is part of? A discovery by America’s NASA space agency suggests the answer is yes. For the first time, a star has been found supporting as many planets as orbit our own sun. The star called Kepler-90 has eight planets orbiting it about 2,545 light-years from Earth in the Draco constellation, NASA announced. “The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system,” said astronomer Andrew Vanderburg, a NASA fellow at the University of Texas. “You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer.” The discovery of the eight planets was made possible by data collected by NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler telescope. The Kepler telescope has enabled scientist to make many new discoveries about space. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about Kepler’s successes. Write the word “TELESCOPE” down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter of the word to start a sentence or phrase that tells of Kepler’s successes.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Spin That Pizza!

Is spinning pizza dough in the air a valuable cultural asset? The United Nations’ UNESCO organization thinks so. It has declared that the tradition of pizza spinning in Naples, Italy, is an example of “intangible cultural heritage” worthy of being included on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The art of pizza spinning originated in ancient Naples, and professionals known as “pizzaiuoli” are trained as a “living link” between generations. There currently are 3,000 pizzaiuoli in Naples. Traditions are important to families and communities in many different ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about traditions that are important to families or your community. Use what you read to brainstorm a short documentary film highlighting popular traditions. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Write a description of the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.