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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Apr 26, 2021

1. Derek Chauvin Verdict

The guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial has sparked deep discussions across America about justice, systemic racism and police treatment of African Americans and other people of color. The conviction of Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd was seen as a watershed event by Black Americans, who long have felt police have not been held accountable for violence against African Americans and even deaths. Others have noted that while Chauvin’s conviction was a milestone it will not end the ongoing struggle over injustice, nor heal the pain that has divided our nation on matters of race. It is a beginning not an ending, they say, and much more needs to be done. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read commentaries about the long-term effects of the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. Use what you read to write a commentary of your own analyzing some of the biggest effects.

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.

2. ‘Do Not Travel’

With coronavirus restrictions easing across the United States, many people are eager to travel again. But if you’re thinking of traveling abroad, the U.S. State Department is cautioning “not so fast.” The State Department has announced it is updating its travel advisories and “approximately 80 percent of countries worldwide” will be given a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” designation due to virus risks. The change puts State Department guidelines in line with those issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and reflects concern about the rise in cases due to “variant” strains of the virus. Level 4 is the highest risk rating issued by the State Department. Last week the World Health Organization announced that more than 5.2 million new cases were recorded worldwide in the previous week — the most in a single week since the pandemic began. While the United States is advising people not to travel abroad, some countries are welcoming tourists and visitors from other nations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these countries. Use what you read to write a travel column outlining what virus precautions are being taken in these countries and what risks remain.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

3. Cat Food Cookbook

It’s well known that cat owners love to pamper their cats. Now a cat food company is helping the pets pamper back. Sort of. The Fancy Feast Petites brand of cat food by Purina has released a Fancy Feast cookbook for humans that lets them match meals with their pets. Serving puss a can of Petites Seared Salmon Entrée with Spinach in Gravy? Whip up a Salmon Cappelletti in a Cream and Spinach Sauce for yourself. Or if you’re giving kitty a Petite Grilled Chicken Entrée with Rice in Gravy, give yourself a Sage Cornbread Chicken Pot Pie. The 12 recipes in the online cookbook are color coded so owners will know which go with each of the three flavors in the Fancy Feast Petites line. And all have fancy schmantzy names you might find at a top restaurant. “Mealtime is a bonding experience,” the cookbook declares in its introduction. And now cat owners can bond even more with their pampered pets. The Fancy Feast cookbook is an example of an effort by a company to call attention to its product in an unusual way. In the newspaper or online, find examples of other things companies are doing to call attention to products. Pick one and write a letter to a friend telling why you think the effort is effort is effective, or silly.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

4. Name Game

An old saying about facing criticism advises people that “if the shoe fits, wear it.” For a shoe company in the European nation of England, that saying might be modified to read “if the name fits, hire it.” Seven months ago, the Shoe Zone company needed a chief financial officer and went out and hired a man named — really — Peter Foot. Foot has now left the job, and Shoe Zone has gone out and found a replacement named — double really — Terry Boot. The coincidence of shoe names may sound like a joke from late night TV, but the job has some real business challenges. Shoe Zone has 430 stores in England and the United Kingdom and had to close 40 stores in 2020 due to the coronavirus epidemic. Revenues slumped by 24.3 percent to $170-million for the year, and it has $17-million in debt. Company officials said they hope Boot will find “innovative ways to secure a future” for the company. Many companies are facing challenges to recover from losses during the coronavirus epidemic. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one company’s recovery efforts. Use what you read to write a business column detailing steps the company is taking and whether you think they will be effective. Suggest other steps you think would be effective if you like.

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.

5. Clean Sweep

Last week the world celebrated Earth Day, and the state of North Carolina had plenty to be excited about. Officials announced that volunteers in the state’s Adopt-a-Highway Spring Litter Sweep had collected more than 4-million pounds of litter from North Carolina roadsides from January through April. Under the program, volunteers armed with trash bags go out and pick up bottles, cans and other trash from the side of roads across the state. “The Spring Litter Sweep has helped tremendously in keeping our roadways clean,” said state Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette. “Keeping North Carolina clean requires everyone to do their part.” Officials said families can help control litter by keeping a litter bag in the car and recycling cans and bottles when possible. Volunteers can play a big role controlling litter and trash pollution. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about individuals and groups that have organized ways reduce such pollution. With family, friends or classmates, discuss areas in your community that have a trash or litter problem. Brainstorm a way to organize students or the community to clean up one or more areas in a fun way. Write a news release announcing your effort.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; 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.