Resources for Teachers and Students

For Grades 5-8 , week of Mar. 06, 2017

1. Fast-Food & Antibiotics

Environmental and consumer advocacy groups are concerned about the growing use of antibiotics in animals raised for food — and how that is connected to the growth of bacteria that are resistant to drugs. So they decided to grade the nation’s largest fast-food and fast-casual food chains on their use of meat grown with antibiotics. Only two companies — Chipotle and Panera — got top marks. “Most meat served by America’s top chain restaurants comes from animals … routinely fed antibiotics,” the study concluded. This has led to the growth of resistant bacteria that can spread to humans, the advocacy groups say. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that at least 2 million Americans a year contract antibiotic-resistant infections, and 23,000 people die from them. The CDC has urged federal regulators to curtail livestock producers’ use of antibiotics because the practice increases risk to humans. The increase in bacteria that are resistant to drugs is a public health issue that can affect many people. In the newspaper or online, find and read another story about a public health issue important to people. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing the issue, the effects it has on people and how it is being dealt with.

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.

2. No More Ads in Magazine

“Prevention,” a health and wellness magazine published by the family-owned Rodale company, has become ad-free. Like many other publications, its print advertising has suffered with the shift to digital publishing, and the magazine’s older audience (women over 40) is not as appealing to advertisers, according to its editor-in-chief. The no-ads decision has enabled the magazine to reduce operating expenses by more than 50 percent, because its print sales staff can be reduced, the company says. The magazine also will no longer have to maintain a minimum circulation level, which some advertisers required. Having already increased its single-copy price, the magazine doubled its subscription price to make up lost revenue. The rise of websites, social media, blogs and online publishing has changed the way people get information — and reduced reliance on print resources like magazines. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the growth of digital media and the changing reading habits of people. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay predicting which media will be used most for news and information five years from now — and how they will be supported financially. Include what role there will be for print publications in five years. Discuss as a class.

Common 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.

3. Tibet Rail Link to Grow

Located in Asia’s Himalaya Mountains, Tibet is one of the most exotic places on Earth. And soon the region known as the “Roof of the World” will be easier to get around. China plans to extend a railroad on Tibet’s trans-Himalaya plateau to the borders of neighboring India, Bhutan and Nepal. The extension, to be completed by 2020, would lengthen a 157-mile rail route from Tibet’s capital of Lhasa to the city of Shigatse. In 2006, China opened the first rail link to Tibet, connecting Lhasa to China via Qinghai province. Tibet is an autonomous region of China, and these rail projects have been criticized by advocates of Tibetan independence. The critics are afraid the railroads will bring more Chinese into Tibet. China’s influence is growing in Asia and around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about Chinese influence in politics, business or another field. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, giving your opinion on why the news about China in your story is important to other nations, including the United States.

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.

4. Dangerous Abdominal Fat

More than half of American adults have abdominal obesity, a government study reports, and that is the most dangerous kind. The report estimates that 55 percent of Americans have abdominal obesity around the waistline, compared to 46 percent in 1999-2000. Researchers say fat around the waistline is more dangerous to health than fat in other parts of the body, because it increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other medical problems. When people are “apple-shaped” due to abdominal fat, it means the fat is deposited deep in the body, around the liver and other organs. Maintaining a healthy weight is a key to health and physical fitness. And getting regular exercise is an important part of staying physically fit. In the newspaper or online, find examples of different ways people can get regular exercise beyond competitive sports. Use what you find to write a poem, song, rap or rhyme discussing different ways to get exercise, and the benefits of each. Share with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. Heroes in the News

Creative writers usually build a story around a hero or heroine called a “protagonist.” Heroes often have strong personalities and are examples of good behavior and good character. Such people can also be found in the news every day. Scan the stories and photos in the newspaper or online and pick a person in the news whom you admire. On a sheet of paper, write a list of qualities you admire in the person you selected. Use these qualities to brainstorm an idea for a creative story in which this person would be the central character. Create a title for your story and write the opening scene. Share with classmates and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.