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for Grades 5-8

Sep. 24, 2018
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For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 08, 2018

1. NBA Player Targeted

In the United States, criticism of public officials or leaders is protected as free speech by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That is not the case in many nations, and it has gotten New York Knicks basketball player Enes Kanter in trouble with his homeland of Turkey. Kanter has been a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodgan on Twitter and other social media outlets. Now Turkey wants to imprison Kanter for more than four years for a series of critical Tweets about the Turkish president. Kanter has been charged with insulting Erodgan and is likely to be tried “in absentia” without actually appearing in court. As a result, he could be arrested if he were to return to Turkey. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech for Americans, including speech that criticizes public officials or leaders. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people using this freedom to criticize a public official or leader. Write an editorial for the newspaper outlining why this freedom is important and what would be lost if Americans could not criticize their leaders.

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. Internet Fame

It’s often been said that anyone can become famous on the Internet. If you doubt that, check out the experience of a 12-year-old from Los Angeles, California. The boy is a video blogger, or “vlogger,” and runs a vlog called Joey Vlogz on his own YouTube channel. He didn’t have much of a following until another vlogger filmed him talking and eating sprinkles at a local mall. That vlogger, Jenna Marbles, has 17 million followers on YouTube, and that night she included a clip of Joey at the mall and plugged his vlog channel. By morning, Joey’s channel had jumped from 185 subscribers to 14,000, according to the Washington Post newspaper. More subscribers signed on, hour after hour, day after day. In three weeks Joey had 90,000 followers. Excited as he was, Joey acknowledged there are pressures with more subscribers. “Ninety thousand pressures that weren’t there a week ago,” his mom said. The Internet gives people an opportunity to share their views, opinions, photos and videos with a wide range of people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an issue you feel strongly about. Brainstorm an idea for a video blog that would express your views, including images you would show. Write the opening of your blog in a way that would get people’s attention. Share with the class.

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.

3. ‘Nightmare Year’

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) seeks to protect the children of the world from war, violence, abuse, hunger and other dangers. In the year 2017 the world’s children experienced a “shocking” amount of hardship and harm, because warring groups or nations “blatantly disregard[ed] international laws designed to protect the most vulnerable,” UNICEF reports. Worst of all, children were targeted in places where they should feel safe, such as homes, schools and playgrounds, UNICEF said in a worldwide report on children. They have been killed in conflicts, recruited to fight, used as human shields, forced to be suicide bombers and enslaved, UNICEF said. It was a “nightmare year” for children, UNICEF officials concluded. Children face hardship and harm in many ways around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about children experiencing hardship in another country. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining ways that the United Nations, the United States or independent groups could take action to help these children.

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. Hope for a Baby

In cities all over America, police officers encounter people who are down on their luck, endangering their lives or risking the lives of others. Few do what Officer Ryan Holets did in the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, however. After meeting a pregnant homeless woman who was addicted to heroin, Holets offered to adopt her baby. After talking with Holets and his wife, Crystal Champ agreed. When Champ’s baby girl was born, Holets and his wife began caring for her along with their own four children. They named her Hope, and applied to formally adopt her. Hope suffered through nearly a month of withdrawal symptoms from her mother’s use of heroin and crystal meth, but is now doing well. Efforts to get Champ into a rehab program have not been successful. People often do extraordinary things to help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person or group that has done something to help others in a dramatic way. Use the actions of the person or group to create a public service ad for television encouraging people to help others. Write an outline for your ad, including images you would use. Share and discuss ideas with the class.

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.

5. Mexican American Studies

An effort by the state of Arizona to ban Mexican American studies in schools in the city of Tucson has been thrown out by a federal judge. Judge A. Wallace Tashima ruled that the state cannot enforce a state law designed to do this or punish the Tucson Unified School District for ignoring the law, because it “was enacted and enforced, not for a legitimate educational purpose, but for an invidious discriminatory racial purpose.” In addition, Tashima said the law was passed for a “politically partisan” reason and violated rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. The law had been introduced by the state superintendent of public instruction after he came to believe the program was “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group” and “promote[d] resentment toward a race or class of people.” Learning about the heritage and contributions of different ethnic groups can increase understanding of the diversity of the U.S. population. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about the contributions of an ethnic group in the United States that is not your own. Use what you read to write a paragraph detailing what you learned by reading about the group’s contributions, and what additional things you would like to know.

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.