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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Feb. 05, 2018

1. Charges for Bullying

Online bullying can be especially painful to victims, because it can reach them anywhere. It also can have severe consequences for those doing the bullying. In the state of Florida, two Panama City middle school students have been charged with cyberbullying after a student they bullied online committed suicide by hanging herself. One student told police she had spread rumors and vulgar remarks about 12-year-old Gabriella Green and threatened to cause trouble for her with another student. The other student said he told Green to "just do it" when she told him she was thinking of killing herself. Police said that the actions of the accused boy and girl caused mental distress to the victim. Like Gabby Green, both the accused are 12 years old. Even when it does not result in death, bullying causes pain for those who are targeted. And it focuses attention on what "bystanders" can do to stop a bullying situation. As a class, discuss ways that bystanders who are not involved in bullying can take steps to stop bullying. Then find and read stories in the newspaper or online about ways students have done this. Use what you read to write an advice column for the newspaper, outlining ways "bystanders" can take steps to stand up for people who are being bullied.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

2. Last Slave Ship?

A shipwreck discovered in the state of Alabama may be the last slave ship to bring captive slaves into the United States. The wreck found in a remote part of Mobile Bay may be the ship Clotilda, which illegally brought slaves from Africa into the area in the summer of 1860. Ship's captain William Foster burned the Clotilda after offloading 110 African slaves brought from the war-torn "kingdom of Dahomey" (now known as the West African nation of Benin). The wreck was discovered this winter due to uncommonly low tides caused by the "bomb cyclone" storm system that hit the eastern United States in early January. The practice of slavery had long-lasting effects on African Americans and all Americans in the United States. In honor of Black History Month this February, find and closely read stories about long-term effects of slavery and how they are being dealt with today. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper analyzing how people are dealing with the direct or indirect effects of slavery in 2018, and why that is important.

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. Win for Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat is one of the most famous cats on the Internet. And now she's a little bit richer, too. Grumpy Cat's owner has been awarded more than $700,000 in a lawsuit against a business partner who used the name and image of the sourpuss without permission. Owner Tabatha Bundesen and her Grumpy Cat Limited company had agreed to allow the Grenade beverage company to sell a line of iced coffees called "Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino." But when the beverage company added a line of "Grumpy Cat Roasted Coffee" and Grumppuccino T-shirts, Bundesen sued, arguing that the products violated Grumpy Cat trademarks and copyrights and went beyond the terms of the original deal. Last month, a jury in Santa Ana, California agreed. Even with the win, however, Grumpy Cat did not smile, according to observers. People often file lawsuits to correct wrongs, protect rights or seek cash damages for wrongful actions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a lawsuit. Use what you read to write a summary of the case, the claims of each side and what you think is likely to happen.

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.

4. Toy Stores Closing

Founded more than 60 years ago, Toys R Us has long been one of the most popular stores for kids and their families. But with the growth and convenience of online shopping, fewer families are packing up the kids and actually going to the stores. As a result, Toys R Us has announced it will be closing 182 of its stores in U.S. malls and shopping centers in 2018. And more could follow that. The 182 closings amount to about one-fifth of the company's 880 stores in the United States, and about 11 percent of the 1,600 Toys R Us stores around the world. Online shopping has taken business away from "bricks and mortar" stores in malls and shopping centers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about mall stores having trouble attracting customers. Use what you read to design an advertising campaign to get customers to shop at one company's mall stores. Design a series of ads for the newspaper highlighting things that could attract shoppers to these stores.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. Help from a Duchess

Younger members of Great Britain's royal family have been strong public supporters of mental health services - and the need for people to break the silence about mental health issues affecting them. Princes William and Harry have spoken openly about the emotional pain they went through after the death in a car crash of their mother, Princess Diana. Now Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, is focusing on helping school children with the issue. The Duchess has launched a new initiative called Mentally Healthy Schools to provide support resources for children and teachers. "The simple act of having a conversation about mental health … can make a real difference," she said. "You need resources you can trust, and you need to have easy access to them." Talking about stress, emotions and depression can help people overcome these mental health issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about mental issues experienced by students your age. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short film or video to encourage students to talk about their issues with other people. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene in the form of a movie screenplay.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.