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for Grades 5-8

Dec. 11, 2017
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For Grades 5-8 , week of Apr 03, 2017

1. Financial Security

Financial security played a big role in the 2016 presidential election, and many people who felt the most insecure voted for President Trump, according to exit polls. That feeling among voters echoed the findings of a Pew Charitable Trusts survey, which found that most Americans feel unprepared for a financial emergency. The 2015 survey found that 57 percent of the 7,845 surveyed said they were not ready for a financial setback, 55 percent spent as much as (or more) than they earned, and one-third had no savings. Even among those with annual incomes over $100,000, 22 percent felt insecure, 10 percent had no savings and 12 percent reported having less than $10,000 (not including housing). Financial insecurity continues to be an issue important to people, whether it involves loss of health care benefits or the impact of proposed cuts to the federal budget. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a government action or proposal that could affect people’s financial situation. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper, analyzing the impact of the action or proposal.

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. Insect Named for Jurist

A newly discovered species of praying mantis has been named for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, because of her “relentless fight for gender equality” and because the insects’ neck plates are similar to the neck accessories (called jabots) that Justice Ginsburg frequently wears. Researchers at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History named the new species “Ilomantis ginsburgae.” One of the researchers, who identifies herself as “a feminist biologist,” said it was appropriate to name the mantis for Ginsburg since it had been classified based on study of female specimens instead of males, as is usually the case. Justice Ginsburg, 84, was the second woman nominated to the nation’s high court, and one of three currently serving. From the Women’s March on Washington to debates in the U.S. Congress, women have been active this year leading discussions about rights, equality and issues important to families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a woman calling attention to one issue. Use what you read to write an editorial or letter to the editor analyzing the woman’s points and giving your opinion on the issue.

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.

3. Mental Illness Economics

Every dollar spent on better treatment of anxiety and depression yields $4 in better health and ability to work, the World Health Organization has reported. These most common forms of mental illness cost the global economy about $1 trillion a year, WHO notes. In its first estimate of the health and economic benefits of spending more to treat mental illness, WHO noted that mental disorders such as anxiety and depression are increasing. “We need to provide treatment, now,” an expert on global health has declared. “Until we do, mental illness will continue to eclipse the potential of people and economies.” Mental health issues are often in the news, especially those that affect families or children. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a mental health issue important to children or families. Use what you read to design a poster, calling attention to the issue and what should be done to address it. Give your poster an eye-catching title that would get the attention of families.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

4. Chronic Pain

National Institutes of Health researchers have concluded that about 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain — and most are not receiving proper treatment. About 5 to 8 million, for example, use unnecessary — and potentially dangerous — opioids, which have been linked to an increase on overdose deaths nationwide. The study concedes that it is difficult to recognize for which conditions opioids are appropriate and notes that many doctors prescribe them when they are not necessary. The 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain represent about 31 percent of the total U.S. population. Opioid addiction has become a problem all over the country, and communities are asking legislators and political leaders to find a solution. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about proposals from politicians to address the issue with new laws or programs. Use what you read to create a multi-media presentation for the class, outlining solutions that are being proposed.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

5. Stores in Trouble

With more and more people shopping online, retail stores located in malls or shopping centers are struggling. Companies are racing to move sales operations to the Internet and many are simply closing their “brick and mortar” stores. J.C. Penney has announced it will close 138 stores, Sears Holding company said it will shutter 108 Kmart and 42 Sears stores, H.H. Gregg is closing 88 stores, and Macy’s and MC Sports are shutting 68 each. Sears also said there is “substantial doubt” it can stay in business. The Internet has changed the way people shop, and changed the kind of stores that are successful in malls or shopping centers. Big “anchor” stores no longer do enough business to justify maintaining the space in a mall. Smaller stores seem to do better. In the newspaper or online, find and read ads for different retail stores selling goods and products. Pretend you are starting a mall. Make a list of stores you would like to include in your mall. Remember, you may not want to include too many stores that are similar to each other. Write a marketing plan for your mall, explaining your choices.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.