For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 10, 2011

1. All Dried Up

Texans suffering from a horrendous drought may face another five to 10 years of little to no rain, climatologists are predicting. According to Yahoo! News, this year's drought alone cost the state of Texas $5 billion in damages. Crops are destroyed, lakes that lure tourists are dry and millions of trees have withered and died. Ranchers who rely on hay and alfalfa crops to feed their cattle are selling the animals off as fast as they can. In addition, wildfires have destroyed hundreds of homes and burned more than 125,000 acres. Climatologists say current conditions may be similar to a deadly drought of the 1950s. Find a newspaper article on weather trends in your area. Or find a story online. Write a summary about what to expect this winter in terms of rain or snow and temperature ranges.

Core/National Standards: Determining a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through details; providing a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

2. Imagine

On October 9, 1940, John Lennon was born. Lennon was probably most famous for being a member of the rock band The Beatles and for the outspoken campaign for peace he undertook with his wife Yoko Ono. Before he was murdered in 1980, he wrote many famous songs, including "Revolution," "Give Peace a Chance," "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," "Imagine" and "War Is Over (Happy Xmas)." He often looked to the headlines to find inspiration for his music. "A Day in the Life" begins "I read the news today, oh boy..." Write a poem, a song or a rap about some news that you find in today's newspaper. If you're not feeling shy, perform your song to inspire others in your class, as Lennon would have done. Discuss topics different class members chose to write about.

Core/National Standard: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions building on others' ideas and expressing students' own clearly; writing fluently for multiple purposes to produce compositions, such as personal narratives, persuasive essays, lab reports and poetry.

3. Ban Those Bedbugs

Identify a problem, and there will be an entrepreneur out there to solve it -- and make money. The newest race for income involves bedbugs. With outbreaks of bedbugs throughout the country, many inventors are working to find a way to zap them. According to a Reuters article, some think baking them is the solution, while others think freezing them will stop the spread. Others are looking at dehydrating the bugs. Fighting bedbugs is a booming business, and bedbugs are now responsible for many of the calls to pest control companies. Hotels are the biggest sources of infestation. Find a newspaper article focusing on a problem affecting the lives of Americans. With a partner, come up with a solution to the problem and then write out a step-by-step business plan for how you could use your idea to make money.

Core/National Standard: Using precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain a topic.

4. Too Good?

There are few things in sports more fun than watching an amazing athlete perform. It might be a gymnast doing back handsprings on a balance beam, or a soccer player doing a pedal kick that sends the ball into the back of the net, or a basketball player flying high through the air and dunking. The fans of the Wilson Intermediate Football League know what it's like to watch a great athlete when they see 11-year-old Demias Jimerson play. He is so good that he scores almost every time he touches the ball. He's so good, in fact, that the league he plays in instituted a rule that limits the number of touchdowns he can score. Find a sports article in the newspaper that talks about rules of a game. Or find an example online. As a class, discuss the pros and cons of the rules mentioned in the article.

Core/National Standard: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

5. Hello Kitty? Really?

Antonio Garay stands 6 feet, 4 inches, weighs 320 pounds and plays nose tackle for the San Diego Chargers. He also drives a tiny convertible Smart Car with Hello Kitty painted on the side. The veteran football player twittered that he would give his Hello Kitty car four thumbs up if he could, but two thumbs up would have to do. This is a good example of irony. So is a huge manly man choosing an itty-bitty car with Hello Kitty on the side. Search your newspaper for ironic photos showing the unexpected. Or find examples online. Using one picture, explain why the photograph is ironic and funny.

Core/National Standard: Interpreting information presented in diverse media and formats and explaining how it contributes to a topic, text or issue under study.

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