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for Grades 5-8

Mar. 19, 2018
Mar. 12, 2018
Mar. 05, 2018
Feb. 26, 2018
Feb. 19, 2018
Feb. 12, 2018
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Jan. 29, 2018
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June 26, 2017
June 19, 2017
June 12, 2017
June 05, 2017
May 29, 2017

For Grades 5-8 , week of Mar. 19, 2018

1. A First for CIA

President Trump's shakeup of his leadership team has led to the promotion of the first woman to be head of the nation's Central Intelligence Agency. In picking Gina Haspel for the position, the President has chosen an operative and leader who has spent 33 years with the CIA, much of it as an undercover agent overseas. She has earned a strong reputation within the spy agency, but has also been the target of criticism for her role in the agency's use of extreme interrogation measures on terrorism suspects. Haspel was once in charge of a CIA "black site" prison where detainees were subjected to waterboarding and other measures condemned by human rights groups as torture. Her credentials drew support from some members of Congress. "She has the right skill set, experience and judgment to lead one of our nation's most critical agencies," said Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Gina Haspel's nomination to head the CIA is a milestone for women. In honor of Women's History Month, use the newspaper or Internet to closely read a story about another woman who is doing something new or notable. Use what you read to write a poem, rap or rhyme telling how this woman's achievements could inspire others.

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

2.'March Madness'

"March Madness" is under way, and basketball fans all over the country are trying to predict which teams will win the NCAA basketball championships for men and women. The NCAA basketball tournaments are among the most exciting in sports because if a team loses one game, it is out. Because of this, every game is hard fought and hotly contested. And there are always upsets, in which a lower ranked team defeats a higher ranked team. In the newspaper or online, closely read stories about NCAA tournament games this week. Were there upset winners in any of the games? Did any players have spectacular performances or make unusual plays? Use what you read to write a sports column highlighting two or three performances that were unusual, unexpected or especially exciting. Try to capture the excitement in your writing by using active verbs and colorful adjectives. Share with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Identifying multiple language conventions and using them; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

3. No-Smoking Scouts

Health experts have long said that second-hand cigarette smoke can endanger the health of others, particularly children. Now the city of Aurora, Colorado has passed a law banning smoking in cars where children are present - and they have a Girl Scout troop to thank. A five-girl troop of 13- and 14-year-olds proposed the ban and spent more than a year working with city officials to write it and get it passed. "I'm not a sentimental guy, but it gave me a real renewed faith in the youth of our country," said Aurora City Council member Charles Richardson. To which scout leader Kristen Batcho added: "It tells the girls that, yes, you do have a voice, and you can step up even if you're 13 and 14, and you can do great things." Students your age can make a difference in many ways in communities. With a partner, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about a problem or issue that students could help solve or address. Use what you read to brainstorm a way students could help. Then create an ad for the newspaper or Internet to recruit students for your effort. Be sure to give your ad an eye-catching headline.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. Hate Your Selfie?

Millions of people use cell phones to take selfie photos every day. Many of them don't like the way the photos turn out. Most often, people don't like the way their nose looks. And there's a reason for that, according to a new study in the medical journal called JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery. Because phones are held close when taking pictures, they distort the way people look, experts say. So people who think they look fine in a mirror are dismayed to see that their features look weird in their selfies. "Selfies make your nose look wider and thicker when it really isn't," plastic surgeon Boris Paskhover told CNN news. In a selfie from about 12 inches away, for instance, men's noses appear 30 percent wider and women's 29 percent wider than they really are. A photo taken five feet away shows no distortion. Photos often can capture the character or personality of a person. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo that you think does this. Read more about this person using the newspaper and Internet. Then write a paragraph explaining why the photo does a good job capturing his/her personality.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Dog Show Protest

Dog shows are popular all over the world, but many people are not fans of the way they showcase "purebred" dogs. At one of the fanciest shows in the European nation of Great Britain this month, protestors crashed the awards ceremony just as the "best in show" was being announced. As a two-and-a-half year old whippet was named top dog at the famous Crufts show, protestors ran into the arena chanting and holding protest signs. They were quickly subdued and the whippet named Tease was crowned the winner. The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals claimed responsibility for the protest, targeting Crufts for promoting overbreeding of purebred dogs that results in "extreme and debilitating physical traits." Animal rights are getting more and more attention around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people addressing an issue involving animal rights. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor giving your opinion on the issue. Share and discuss with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.