, week of
Nov. 13, 2017
1. Panda Power
With more than 1.4 billion people, the Asian nation of China has a giant need for more electrical power. So it wasn’t a surprise when a giant solar-energy plant was built in the city of Datong. What was a surprise was that the plant was built in the shape of two giant pandas! Giant pandas are among China’s most famous species of wildlife, so leaders of the Panda Green Energy Group thought it made sense to build the solar plant so that it looked like two pandas when viewed from the sky. Company officials say the shape has brought attention to the plant and to solar energy generated from sunlight. China is pushing solar energy as a way to reduce pollution from power plants that use fossil fuels like oil or coal. Animals often are used to call attention to products, businesses, teams or issues. In the newspaper or online, find examples of three animals used to call attention to something. For each, write a complete sentence stating what qualities of the animal connect with the product, business or team using it as a symbol.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
2. Space Heroes!
Four women who played historic roles in America’s NASA space program have been honored by a Lego toy set. And the set is a huge hit, selling out on Amazon on the first day it was available and becoming the online retailer’s Number 1 toy. Called “Women of NASA,” the 231-piece set honors astronomer Nancy Grace Roman, computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, and astronauts Sally Ride and Mae Jemison. Ride was the first American woman in space and Jemison the first African American woman. The success of the “Women of NASA” set comes one year after the “Hidden Figures” movie called attention to the contributions of African-Americans Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson to the space program. From the space program, to business, to politics and government, women are finding success in new ways every year. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a woman who is successful in her career. Use what you read and prior knowledge to write a paragraph describing the talents and qualities the woman has that made her a success and helped her overcome challenges she faced.
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.
3. The Weight of Flying
In the airline business, every pound is important because it affects the cost of flying. To get a better idea of how much weight is being carried on planes, an airline in the European nation of Finland has begun weighing passengers. Finnair began weighing passengers and their carry-on luggage last month to get a more accurate picture of the average weights of men, women and children who fly. No one is forced to be weighed, and “many people actually wanted to take part,” an airline spokesperson said. The program will continue through the winter and wrap up in the spring of 2018. The weight of passengers affects the cost of flying because more weight requires more fuel to fly. Every business has costs that affect how much money they need to operate. As a class, discuss different costs faced by different businesses. Then use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about a business operating in your community or state. Write a paragraph describing the biggest costs faced by the business, and which are most important.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
4. Squash That Bomb
Ever since World War II ended in 1945, communities in the nations of Europe have been finding bombs from the conflict buried in fields and woods. Most have been disarmed by local authorities, but a recent discovery in a German town didn’t need the bomb squad. When a resident reported a possible bomb in a garden, authorities discovered it wasn’t a bomb at all. Instead it was an enormous zucchini squash! Sixteen inches long and weighing 11 pounds, the squash “really did look very like a bomb,” authorities said. They believe it had been thrown over a hedge into the garden. Odd events often are in the news. And they can be used as inspiration for creative writing. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an odd, funny or unusual event. Use what you read to write a short, humorous, rhyming poem about this event. As a class, read poems aloud — with expression!
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.
5. Mice, Mice & More Mice
In late fall, many wild animals look for warm, safe places to live during the winter. That includes mice, as a man in the state of Minnesota has found out. Jack Parr has been waging a major war against a mouse invasion, and in just six weeks he trapped an unbelievable 213 mice outside his home in the city of Minneapolis. On some nights he trapped more than a dozen trying to find a way into his house through the foundation. As successful as he has been at trapping, Parr says the key to mouse control is sealing up your house. “You can spend all kinds of time and money trapping and baiting, but unless you seal up the house they will continue to find ways in,” he says. People often have unusual experiences with animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person who has had an unusual experience with a wild or tame animal. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a cartoon movie about the experience. Write an outline for what would happen in your cartoon. Draw a picture of your first scene. Share ideas with the class and discuss.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or event; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.