For Grades 5-8 , week of Apr 13, 2020

1. Harry’s Back

Leave it to Harry Potter to come to the rescue. From the very first of J.K. Rowling’s books, the young wizard hero has used his magical powers to solve problems, overcome obstacles and save the day for his classmates at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Now Potter and Rowling are taking on a new challenge: the coronavirus emergency that has shut down schools and communities around the world. To entertain and educate students during the shutdown, Rowling has used her “Wizarding World” website to create an Internet hub offering learning materials, puzzles, games and more for kids and families. Called “Harry Potter at Home,” the hub also features a free audiobook of the first book in the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” “Parents, teachers and care[givers] working to keep children amused and interested while we’re on lockdown might need a bit of magic," Rowling said as she announced the launch. “During the strange times we now find ourselves in, we want to welcome you back to Hogwarts.” In the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling created a magical world that almost seems like it could be from real life. Practice your magic skills by finding and closely reading a story that interests you in the newspaper or online. Think like J.K. Rowling and rewrite this story adding magical elements that would entertain readers. Share with family and friends.

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

2. Private Lesson

All over the country, the coronavirus has forced schools to close and turn to online learning. But sometimes nothing can replace face-to-face contact with a teacher. In Madison, South Dakota sixth grader Rylee Anderson discovered that when she was struggling with a math problem she had gotten as online homework. She emailed her teacher Chris Waba, and was surprised when the doorbell rang and Waba was standing on her porch with a white board. Waba, who lives nearby, patiently walked Rylee through the graphing problem that was giving her trouble, and then watched as she did two other problems as well. All at a safe distance, of course. “She’s a good math student, but I thought working through a problem with her was a better plan,” Waba told the Washington Post newspaper. And Rylee? “I thought it was pretty awesome to see my teacher making a house call to give me a private lesson.” With schools closed, teachers are trying a variety of new things to make online learning fun and engaging. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about teachers doing this. Use what you read to write a personal column telling which approaches you think would be the most effective — and suggesting some of your own.

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. From Beauty World to Hospital

Many people are making sacrifices to help others during the coronavirus epidemic. The woman crowned Miss England in 2019 is no exception. Bhasha Mukherjee, who represented England in the Miss World beauty pageant, is stepping away from the pageant world to go back to work as a doctor. She had been doing humanitarian work for several charities since the Miss World competition but felt it was more important to put her medical skills to work fighting the coronavirus. “I felt a sense of this is what I'd got this degree for,” the 24-year-old Mukherjee told CNN News. “There's no better time for me to be Miss England and helping England at a time of need.” A specialist in respiratory medicine, she will return to the hospital where she worked in eastern England. Hospitals need all the doctors and nurses they can get to fight the coronavirus outbreak. Like Miss England, some are returning from other assignments and some are coming out of retirement. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about doctors and nurses stepping up to help fight the virus. Use what you read to write a short editorial thanking them for their contributions and telling why they are important.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

4. Mystery Ship

In the state of Maine, the wreckage of a mystery ship emerges from the sand of a popular beach every few years, raising questions of what it was and how it got there. The wreckage only appears after heavy storms, drawing both tourists and history lovers to Short Sands Beach in the state’s southernmost county. Now testing and research by a local historian may have identified the ship as a vessel that sailed in the 1700s before America’s Revolutionary War. Historian Stefan Claesson says that testing of the wood in the wreck dates it to 1753, and other records indicate that the vessel is likely a sloop called Defiance that was built in 1754 and wrecked on a southern Maine beach in 1769. The Defiance met its final fate in a fierce storm on a journey from Salem, Massachusetts to Portland, Maine with a cargo of flour, pork and English goods. Shipwrecks provide historians with valuable information about the past, because they are preserved by water or the sand on beaches. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a shipwreck discovery. Use what you read to write a paragraph detailing what new information the discovery gave historians and why that was 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.

5. Convention Delay

The coronavirus has affected events large and small all across the country. Now it has claimed one of its biggest events yet. The Democratic Party has postponed its nominating convention for president due to concerns about the health and safety of delegates who would attend. The convention was moved from mid-July to August 17–20 in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Democratic gathering now will occur one week before the Republican convention takes place in Charlotte, North Carolina. With the withdrawal of Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the presidential race, former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to be nominated by the Democrats to challenge President Trump in November. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how experts view that matchup. Use what you read to write a political column giving your view on what will be the most important issues in the race.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.