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For Grades K-4 , week of June 12, 2017

1. Great White Sharks

Great white sharks are among the fiercest — and most interesting — fish in the ocean. And this spring they have made news on opposite sides of the world. Over Memorial Day weekend, scientists spotted and tracked a 16-foot great white estimated to weigh more than 3,000 pounds in the Atlantic Ocean just off the shores of the East Coast states of Delaware and New Jersey. Meanwhile, in the waters of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Australia, a 9-foot great white leaped out of the water and landed in the boat of a 73-year old fisherman. The fisherman was injured when one of the shark’s fins cut his arm but was otherwise unharmed after climbing atop the sides of the boat to get out of the shark’s range. Sharks and other sea life are often in the news during the summer months when many people go to beaches. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story involving a sea creature of some kind. Write a letter to a friend telling one thing you learned from the story about the creature, and one question about it you would like answered.

Common Core State Standards: Closely reading written or visual texts to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

2. Hurricane Season

Hurricanes are dangerous, high powered storms, and this year’s hurricane season will have above average activity in waters off the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts the U.S. will experience two to four major hurricanes and five to nine hurricanes all together. NOAA weather experts say warm sea surface temperatures and a weaker than usual El Niño weather system will make the season more active than average. A total of 11 to 17 storms (including hurricanes) will be powerful enough to be given names this season, the NOAA said. Storm names are given out alphabetically and this year include such names as Cindy, Franklin, Jose and Ophelia. Violent weather is often in the news in the summer months. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a violent weather event. Use what you read to design a poster listing tips for families on how to stay safe in this kind of weather. Share posters 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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

3. Oh-So Perfect!

In baseball or softball, a perfect game is rare because it means the pitcher got every batter out. In Cedar Grove, New Jersey, softball pitcher Mia Faieta did something even more amazing this spring. She not only pitched a perfect game — she STRUCK OUT every batter she faced! She recorded 21 strikeouts in a seven-inning, 4-0 win for her high school team (high school games are seven innings). Faieta, who is just a sophomore, has been a strikeout machine this season. Earlier in the season, she struck out all 15 batters she faced in five innings of a game, and after her perfect game she had 321 strikeouts for the season — the most in the state. Athletes often do amazing things when they compete. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an athlete who has done something unusual or amazing. Use what you read to write a paragraph describing how you think the athlete became so good at his/her sport.

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. Sun Power in Africa

With over 2,500 hours of sunshine per year, the African nation of South Africa is in a great position to take advantage of solar energy generated by the sun. And now South Africa is putting sun power to work — at its airports. In the last year a South African company has opened three solar-powered airports across the country, and by the end of this year three more airports will be powered by solar plants on site. These airports are the first on the African continent to harness solar power. The state-owned Airports Company South Africa says solar will supply about half the power needed by the airports at first, with the “long-term plan to have the airports generate [all] their own energy" from solar. Solar power is considered a “renewable” form of energy because there is no limit to the amount of sunlight on Earth. Other kinds of renewable energy are wind power and water power. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an effort or plan to use renewable energy. Write the word “RENEWABLE” down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter to start a phrase or sentence describing an advantage of renewable energy.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.

5. Monster Plane

Construction of what would be the world’s largest airplane has been completed in the California desert, and now testing has begun to see how it will perform. The huge, twin-body Stratolaunch airplane is being built by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to launch rockets and satellites from the air. Allen’s Stratolaunch company says the plane is on track to have its first launch demonstration as early as 2019. First, it has to be tested, and there is a LOT to test. The plane is 50 feet high and has a wingspan of 385 feet, which is longer than a football field. It’s so big that it has 28 wheels and SIX 747 jet engines. Unfueled, it weighs 500,000 pounds, but with fuel and cargo its total weight could reach 1.3 million pounds. The Stratolaunch airplane is an example of technology being used to do something in a new way. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another effort to use technology in a new way. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, calling attention to the benefits of this new use of technology.

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