For Grades 5-8 THE WEEK OF June 06, 2022

1. Outpouring of Help

The tragedy of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas continues to unfold. But kindness and goodness are also rising to help ease the community’s pain. Volunteers are traveling to Uvalde from around the country to offer counseling, some of them bringing golden retriever support dogs. And thousands of people are reaching out to the children of Irma and Joe Garcia. Irma Garcia was one of two teachers killed at Robb Elementary School while trying to protect her fourth grade students. Joe Garcia had a heart attack and died moments after delivering flowers to a memorial set up to honor the victims. Irma, age 48, and Joe, age 50, left behind four children — Cristian, 23; Jose, 19; Lyliana, 15; and Alysandra, 12. To support the children who had suddenly lost their parents, an online GoFundMe effort was launched on the Internet, the Washington Post newspaper reported. In a matter of days, nearly 50,000 donors had raised more than $2.7-million for the family. People are offering help in many ways to support the families of students and teachers killed in the Uvalde school shooting. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different ways people are helping. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor outlining ways your community could help the people of Uvalde or another community.

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. Hurricane Watch

Hurricane season is a dangerous time in the Atlantic Ocean. It begins on June 1 and runs through November 30 and can cause enormous damage when storms move off the waters of the ocean and crash into land. In recent years, rising ocean temperatures caused by global warming have made hurricanes more intense and dangerous. That will continue again this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The agency has predicted that hurricane season in the Atlantic will be above normal for the seventh straight year, with 14 to 21 named storms — compared with 14 in an average year — and three to six major hurricanes rated higher than Category 3. Last year produced 21 named storms, the third-most on record. Storms are given names when they become particularly intense — sustaining wind speeds of 39 miles per hour for tropical storms and 74 miles per hour for hurricanes. This year’s named storms will begin with the name Alex, run through Walter and include such favorite names as Fiona, Gaston, Lisa and Owen. A backup list of names exists if more are needed. Hurricanes, tropical storms and other severe weather are often in the news during the summer months. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a severe weather event. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper outlining how people can stay safe before, during and after such an event.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.

3. ‘Mona Lisa’ Assault

The “Mona Lisa” is one of the most famous paintings in the world, and also one of the most popular. Painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the early 1500s, the mysterious portrait of a woman draws more than 6-million visitors a year to the Louvre museum in Paris, France. It is considered one of the most valuable paintings in the world with an estimated worth of nearly $1-billion. Because of its value and popularity, great precautions are taken to keep it safe behind protective glass. Those precautions were tested last week when a man disguised as an old woman in a wheelchair jumped up and smeared cake and cream all over the protective glass. The action was an environmental protest, onlookers said. “Think of the Earth,” the man yelled. “There are people who are destroying the Earth. Think about it. Artists tell you: think of the Earth.” The man was arrested, and the painting was not damaged. Security systems are often used to protect people, places or valuable items. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories and ads about security systems and what they do. Pick a valuable item or place and write a proposal for a security system that would protect it. Your system can have more than one feature. Which would be the most important?

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.

4. Rap On, Rap On

In the music world, rap and hip-hop music can be one of the most challenging styles to write and perform. In the European nation of Spain, a school teacher took that challenge to an extreme level in a quest for a new world record. Daniel Alcon, who performs as a rapper when not teaching, freestyle rapped for 39 hours, 37 minutes and 54 seconds to earn recognition from the Guinness World Records organization for the longest individual “rap marathon” ever. The 35-year-old Alcon, who performs under the name DAlcon, livestreamed his rapping marathon on the YouTube website, UPI News reported. The previous record of 33 hours, 33 minutes and 16 seconds was set by a U.S. rapper known as Watsky in 2020. Rap and hip-hop songs often are based on relationships between people or events in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a relationship or person in the news. Use what you read to create an original rap or hip-hop song. Or create a song based on an event or person from your own life. Perform your songs for the class — with style!

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

5. So Long, HoJo’s

Before McDonald’s became America’s leader for fast food, Howard Johnson’s outlets made up the largest restaurant chain in the nation. With bright orange roofs, HoJo’s restaurants were easy to spot from highways, and they were popular with families because they had 28 flavors of ice cream on the menu. Eventually, of course, McDonald’s became the most popular food chain with easy-serve hamburgers, French fries and Happy Meals for children. HoJo’s restaurants fell out of favor, and now they are gone entirely. This spring the last Howard Johnson’s restaurant in America closed its doors in the vacation community of Lake George, New York. “Lake George is officially dead,” a Howard Johnson’s fan wrote on Facebook, according to CNN News. “Cobwebs on the door.” Businesses are often forced to close after being open for long or short periods of time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a business that has closed in your community or state. Use what you read to write a business column, summarizing why the business closed and what it might have done differently for it to stay open and survive.

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.