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For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 24, 2020

1. Reading and Connecting

Reading aloud builds skills and improves vocabulary. It also is a way to connect with family and friends. This summer, no one has connected quite like Dr. Aimee Frechette, the principal of Pine Tree Elementary School in Conway, New Hampshire. Back in March, Frechette began reading bedtime stories on her school’s Facebook page to keep in touch with her students during the coronavirus emergency. She originally planned to do it for a week or so, but it became so popular she now has read more than 150 books! Sometimes Frechette dresses in costume to match the story of a book, and she has also filmed herself reading in interesting places like a fishing pier in Maine and a paddleboat in the middle of a pond. Each reading lasts seven to 10 minutes, and Frechette told the Conway Daily Sun newspaper she will continue “until we get back into the school for face-to-face learning.” If anyone would like to join her nightly story sessions, they can find them by visiting the Pine Tree Elementary School page on Facebook. The newspaper and Internet provide great ways to build reading skills by reading aloud. Find a story that interests you in the newspaper or online. Read it to yourself in a whisper to decide which words should be emphasized. Then read it aloud to a friend or family member.

Common Core State Standards: Reading prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression on successive readings; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

2. Treats for Training

For millions of kids across America, keeping cool in the summer means going to the fridge and getting a Popsicle. Now that cooling method has been adopted by players in the National Football League. To help players stay cool in the summer heat of training camp, the Dallas Cowboys are stocking Popsicles in their cooling tents alongside Gatorade, cool towels and water, ESPN sports reports. In Texas, where the Cowboys hold their pre-season training camp, temperatures can rise to 90 degrees or more during outdoor practices. How do the players like having childhood treats to eat? “I think it’s an amazing technique that we can go in there, grab a Popsicle, cool down and then head back out to practice,” said center Joe Looney. And what’s his favorite flavor? “I’m a blue raspberry kind of guy,” Looney said. “We’re doing one-on-ones and people are asking me, ‘Hey, Looney, why is your tongue blue?’” Eating Popsicles is one way to keep cool during hot weather. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories and photos showing other ways to keep cool. Use what you find to create an art collage of “cool” images. Give your artwork a title and write a paragraph telling how the images make you feel.

Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

3. Amazing Rescue

Great white sharks are among the biggest and fiercest predators in the world’s oceans. They usually feed on seals and sea otters, but they also make more attacks on humans than any other shark. A man and his wife in the southern Pacific nation of Australia experienced this first hand this month — and it took an amazing and brave effort for them to survive. Mark Rapley punched the shark over and over until it let go of his wife Chantelle Doyle’s right leg. Rapley and Doyle had been surfing at a beach in eastern Australia when a young great white knocked Doyle off her surfboard. It then bit her on the back of her right calf, and later on the back of her thigh. That’s when Rapley sprang into action, punching the shark until it let go. He then got his wife up onto her board and pushed her to shore where paramedics rushed her to a hospital. Rapley said he didn’t have time to think during the attack. “You just react,” he told a local TV station. “… You start punching it.” Officials said the shark was a juvenile 6.5 to 10 feet long. People often do amazing and brave things when faced with an emergency. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone doing something amazing to deal with a situation. Pretend you are a news reporter interviewing the person who took action. Write out five questions you would ask the person about what they did. Explain to family or friends why you would want answers to those questions.

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

4. Poetic Inspiration

As a U.S. Representative from the state of New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez works on national issues in Washington, DC. But she still is inspired by things she learned in second grade. Last week she was told she would have a chance to address the Democratic National Convention — but only for one minute. Rather than being disappointed, she paraphrased a poem she learned from her second-grade teacher, Mai Jacobs. “I only have a minute. Sixty seconds in it,” began the poem by civil rights pioneer Benjamin Mays. “Forced upon me, I did not choose it, But I know that I must use it.” Her teacher responded on the Twitter social media site to tell Ocasio-Cortez “You’ve got this,” after “all those poems we recited together” in second grade. The lawmaker replied: “Ms. Jacobs! Is that you?! … You prepared me perfectly for this moment.” Teachers often leave lasting impressions on their students. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one teacher who has done this. Then write a personal column telling about something you remember about a teacher you have had and what you learned from it. Discuss with family and friends.

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.

5. Whew! That’s Hot!

As a result of global warming, it has been a very hot summer in many parts of the country. But no region can compare to Death Valley in the state of California. Last week Death Valley recorded a temperature of 130 degrees, the highest of any place on Earth this summer. It may also be one of the top three temperatures ever recorded on Earth, scientists said. Located in the Mojave Desert of southeastern California, Death Valley is the lowest, driest and hottest place in the United States, the Washington Post newspaper reported. In July 2018, it had an average daily temperature of 108.1 degrees and 21 days that topped 120 degrees. Extremely hot weather can affect people, animals and the environment in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories and photos about the effects of hot weather. Use what you read to write a poem telling what it’s like “When It’s Really Hot...” You can use those words to start each line of your poem, if you like. Your poems do not need to rhyme.

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

For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 24, 2020

1. Drilling in Alaska

Protecting the environment often involves balancing the needs of nature against the needs and desires of humans. That certainly has been the case for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the state of Alaska. For 40 years it has been the subject of heated debate between people who want to preserve it as a home to polar bears and migrating caribou and people who want to drill for the oil and gas that lies beneath the wilderness landscape. Last week the administration of President Trump sided with those who want to drill, finalizing plans to auction off drilling rights to 1.6-million acres in the area to boost the economy of the state. Trump officials said that the plan was “carefully tailored” to minimize its impact on the wilderness habitat, but environmentalists and some Alaska Native groups said they would fight it in court. Proposals to develop natural or wilderness areas always generate great debate. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one such proposal. Use what you read to write an editorial giving your view of development, preservation or something in between for this area. Discuss with family or friends.

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.

2. New Bird Name

All across America, communities, businesses and other institutions are taking a new look at racial attitudes, traditions and names from the past in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The re-assessment now has come to the world of scientists studying birds. The American Ornithological Society has changed the name of a midwestern bird that was named for a Confederate general in the Civil War. The Society, which is made up of leading bird scientists, made the change after a push by birders who felt the bird known as the “McCown’s longspur” should not carry the name of John Porter McCown, a Confederate general who supported slavery and also led campaigns against Native American tribes. The bird was renamed the “thick-billed longspur.” The name change was the first time in the 137-year history of the Society that a bird was renamed because of its connection to a member of the Confederate army, the Washington Post reported. The Black Lives Matter movement is bringing about change in many aspects of American life. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one of the changes you think is a good idea. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor giving your view on this change, and other changes you think should be made.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Another Jordan Record

Michael Jordan set a lot of records in the 15 years of his National Basketball League career. Now he has set a new record in the world of sports collecting. An unnamed collector paid a record $615,000 for a pair of Jordan sneakers that he wore in a game in which he smashed a backboard with a dunk. The one-of-a-kind Nikes were made more valuable because they had a piece of glass from the backboard lodged in the sole of the left sneaker. Jordan wore the red, black and white Nike Air Jordan 1 shoes during a 1985 exhibition game in the European nation of Italy when he was a member of the Chicago Bulls. The size 13.5 sneakers were signed by the NBA superstar. The price paid for this pair of sneakers broke Jordan’s own record for highest price ever paid for sneakers at an auction sale. Only three months ago, a pair of signed, game-worn Nike Air Jordan 1 sneakers from Jordan’s rookie season went for a then-record $560,000 in an auction sale. People often pay great sums of money for rare items or items connected to famous people. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about one such situation. Then imagine you had unlimited wealth. Write a personal column telling what rare item you would like to buy, and why.

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.

4. ‘Terror Croc’

Today’s crocodiles can be fierce and terrifying, but they can’t compare to some ancestors that lived 75-million to 82-million years ago. Those crocs were so fearsome that scientists who have studied their bones named them “terror crocodiles.” How fearsome were they? For starters, they were the length of a city bus. They had teeth the size of bananas. They would lurk in ponds or rivers and lunge out to catch prey. And their jaws were strong enough to even crush dinosaurs. They were “a bizarre, monstrous predator,” according to the lead author of a new study that compared previously discovered croc fossils from across North America with new ones discovered in western Texas. Researchers say there were several species of terror crocodiles, but one — named Deinosuchus (for “terrible crocodile”) — was likely the largest predator in its ecosystem, outweighing even the largest predatory dinosaurs, CNN News reported. “Deinosuchus was a giant that must have terrorized dinosaurs that came to the water’s edge to drink,” said a co-author of the study. Fossil discoveries often involve fierce creatures that could be in science fiction movies. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a fossil discovery of this kind. Then brainstorm an idea for a sci-fi movie about what would happen if this fossil creature came to life today. Write an outline of your movie. Then write a summary of the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

5. Waste Effort Backfires

Food waste is a significant concern for restaurants around the world. In the Asian nation of China, however, a restaurant’s effort to reduce waste has backfired. The Chuiyan Fried Beef restaurant in the city of Changsha asked customers to weigh themselves before entering and then recommended what items the diners should eat, based on their weight. Signs around the restaurant encouraged diners to “clean your plate” and “be thrifty and diligent” to reduce waste, CNN News reported. Customers weren’t happy, charging that the program amounted to fat-shaming, and now the restaurant’s parent chain has apologized. The chain said it “deeply regretted” the controversy its program had caused, but said it would continue to offer customers the opportunity to weigh themselves and get suggestions on what they should order. The Chuiyan Fried Beef program came at a time when China’s national government had launched a campaign to reduce food waste. In the United States and other countries, food waste is a widespread problem. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about food waste and programs designed to reduce it. Use what you read to write a blog or social media post calling attention to some of the best ideas for dealing with food waste or putting the food to good use.

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.