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Grades 1-4
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for Grades 5-8

Dec. 11, 2017
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Nov. 27, 2017
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Mar. 27, 2017
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For Grades 5-8 , week of May 29, 2017

1. Close Call for Officer

One of the most dangerous drugs in America’s opioid epidemic is fentanyl. It’s so dangerous even a tiny amount can be deadly — as an Ohio police officer found out the hard way. After a drug bust involving fentanyl, the officer in the town of East Liverpool noticed some residue on his uniform. He brushed it off with his bare hands, and within minutes he wasn’t feeling well. “I slowly felt my body shutting down,” Officer Chris Green said later. “I could hear talking, but I couldn't respond. I was in total shock.” Fearing he had absorbed fentanyl through his bare skin, fellow officers called for an ambulance and Green was given a dose of Narcan, an opioid antidote that reverses overdose effects. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. The opioid epidemic is affecting communities across the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about opioid addiction and the ways different communities are trying to deal with it. Use what you read to write a short editorial, assessing one effort to deal with the opioid epidemic and its prospects for success.

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.

2. A First for Golf

The Players Championship is one of the top tournaments in professional golf, and this year it made history. Si Woo Kim not only won the tournament, but at age 21 he became the youngest winner ever. The previous record holder, Adam Scott, won the tournament at age 23. Kim won the tournament in just his third appearance at a major championship. Very young athletes are making their mark in more and more professional sports. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a young athlete who is achieving success at a young age in professional sports. Use what you read to write a sports column or blog item assessing what have been the biggest challenges for the young athlete, and what skills or personality traits he/she has that have made success possible. Finish by writing two 140-character Twitter tweets to promote your blog or column. Share with the class.

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.

3. Birds and Buildings

Tall, glass buildings can be beautiful for cities, but they are deadly for birds. Because they reflect light and the colors of the sky, birds don’t realize they are solid and crash into them. In Galveston, Texas, this month, 395 migrating birds were killed in a single night when they collided with a 23-story building during a storm. The birds were flying north after spending the winter in Central and South America. Advocates for bird safety say turning off indoor and outdoor lights at night can reduce nighttime risks, as can using glass that is frosted and less reflective. The owner of the Galveston building announced it would turn off night lights for the remainder of the migration season. The dead birds were sent to a university science lab for study. Human activities or development projects often pose risks to wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an activity or development that could have impact on wildlife. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, outlining ways the impact on wildlife could be reduced.

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. A Tomb Is Saved

In countries all over the world, people are concerned about the loss of historic sites and buildings when new development occurs. The nation of Turkey has taken a step to protect a historic tomb that was threatened by a hydroelectric dam project on the Tigris River. A 15th-century tomb weighing 1,100 tons was moved out of an area that soon will be flooded by the dam project. The domed Zeynel Bey Tomb honors the son of a Turkic ruler who died fighting against the Ottoman Empire six centuries ago. Critics of the dam project say it will destroy historic sites and artifacts that are irreplaceable. Preserving historic buildings, sites and artifacts is an issue important to people all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an effort to protect a historic building or site. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short film or video explaining the importance of the site or building. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Then write a paragraph explaining why you chose the images for the opening scene.

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

5. Leo and the Porpoise

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio is a prominent activist for protecting the environment, and now he has used his star power to call attention to a Mexican porpoise that is facing extinction. There are fewer than 30 vaquita porpoises left in the waters of Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California, and DiCaprio is urging his fans to petition the Mexican government to strengthen protections for the species. The Gulf of California is the only place in the world where the vaquita live, and DiCaprio wants the Mexican government to crack down on illegal fishing and to permanently ban fishing gill nets that entangle the porpoises. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto defended efforts to protect the vaquita, citing a two-year ban on gill nets in the area, and the deployment of 300 marines to patrol the area for illegal fishing. Celebrities often support causes and programs with money or public support. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a cause you think is worthy of support. Then think of a celebrity you feel would be an effective spokesperson for the cause. Use what you read to write a letter to the celebrity, detailing why you think he/she would be an effective spokesperson. Discuss choices as a class.

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. .