, week of
Mar. 02, 2020
The planet Mars is Earth’s next-door neighbor in the solar system, and it has a lot in common with our planet. Like Earth, Mars has an atmosphere, seasons, day and night, and water that once could have supported life. The Mars lander called InSight has now discovered another thing Mars and the Earth have in common. Mars has earthquakes — or “marsquakes” as they should be more accurately called. Since landing on the so-called Red Planet in 2018, InSight has detected more than 174 marsquakes, according to reports just released by scientists working on the project. Twenty-four of those quakes were fairly significant, measuring the equivalent of a 3 or 4 on the scale that measures earthquakes on Earth. America’s NASA space agency is focusing a lot of attention on learning more about Mars. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these efforts. Choose one and prepare a short TV news report telling what the goal of the mission is and what it has learned so far. Write out your report and list images you would use to go with it. Present your report to the class.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
2. Dream Come True
Anyone who has ever played sports has dreamed of getting to be a hero at the major league level. Dave Ayres, a 42-year-old who drives the Zamboni ice machine at hockey arenas, got to live out that dream recently in a National Hockey League contest. Ayres was called into action as the emergency backup goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes, after the team’s top two goalies were injured in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. And he was credited with the win! Ayres entered the game in the second period with the Hurricanes leading 6-1. He gave up two goals in that period but held the Maple Leafs scoreless in the third period to earn the win. Ayres had never appeared before in an NHL game, and became the oldest goaltender in league history to win his first game. “It was awesome,” Ayres said after the contest. People often make news by doing things they have wanted to do for a long time. As a class, talk about things you and your classmates have dreamed of doing. Finish by writing a personal opinion column for the newspaper, telling why you have wanted to do one thing you have dreamed about and how you would feel if you fulfilled this dream.
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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.
3. Rare Snake Sighting
All over the world wildlife species are endangered or going extinct due to climate change, loss of habitat or human activities. Scientists worry when a species has not been seen in the wild for a long time. So it was no surprise that wildlife experts were celebrating in Florida recently when a hiker in the Ocala National Forest spotted a snake that had not been seen in the area for more than 50 years. Hiker Tracey Cauthen was lucky enough to come across a four-foot rainbow snake and took photos of the rare and colorful species to share with wildlife experts. The snake she spotted was four feet long, a little larger than the average for the breed. Rainbow snakes are non-poisonous and pose no threat to people. Endangered or threatened species are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read about one of these wildlife species. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor explaining what threats the species faces, and what people could do to help it.
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. Love That Cheesecake!
Everyone has a favorite food, but few spend thousands and thousands of dollars on it. Unless you are U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, and the food is the creamy dessert known as cheesecake. “Guilty as charged!” Schumer said when a New York newspaper reported that one of his campaign support groups had spent more than $8,600 on cheesecake from the famed Junior’s Cheesecake restaurant in New York’s Brooklyn neighborhood. For the record, Schumer did not eat all that cheesecake himself, giving away much of it to supporters over a seven-year period. Still, he said he’s a huge fan. “I love Junior’s Cheesecake,” he said at a news conference. “It’s the best cheesecake in the world. I’ve been going to Junior’s since I was a little boy. … It’s my guilty pleasure!” What foods are your favorite foods? In the newspaper or online, find photos, stories or ads about foods you really like. Choose one and write a poem, rap or rhyme telling why you like or love it. Share poems with the class.
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.
5. A Clean Win
It pays to be neat. A South Carolina man who used a vacuum to clean out his car bought a lottery ticket with the $5 in loose change the machine picked up. He won $250,000 when his ticket hit the jackpot in the Maximum Money scratch-off game run by the South Carolina Education Lottery. The man couldn’t believe his good luck. “Are you sure?” he asked the clerk who scanned his winning ticket. “I can’t believe this.” The man, who was not publicly identified, said he would use his winnings to pay off debt, take care of his family and do something for fun. When people win a lottery prize, they use the money in many different ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story telling what one person did with lottery winnings. Then write a letter to a friend telling what you would do with your winnings if you won a lottery prize. Include at least one thing you would do for others, as well as things you would do for yourself and your family.
Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
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