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for Grades 5-8

Dec. 11, 2017
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Mar. 27, 2017
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For Grades 5-8 , week of Feb. 27, 2017

1. Resistance to Antibiotics

Spurred by warnings of a public health catastrophe, United Nations member states have agreed on a plan to tackle the problem of antibiotic drugs that have become ineffective due to resistance by bacteria. Overuse of antibiotics has put human health at risk by reducing the power of the drugs for many people, researchers note. In the European Union alone, about 25,000 people a year are dying from infections that have become resistant to the curing power of antibiotics, and the U.N. group warns that a growing number of infections are becoming resistant. Heads of state at the United Nations agreed to develop plans to better control use of existing antibiotics, support investment in new antibiotic drugs, improve methods of preventing infections and improve reporting systems that track how drugs are used. Antibiotic resistance is a health issue that has been getting more and more attention in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another health issue making news. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing why the issue is in the news, why that is important and whom it will affect most now and in the future.

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. Sharing Passenger Data

Aiming for closer scrutiny of potential terrorists, the European Union has agreed to grant law enforcement agencies in member nations access to information gathered by airlines. The information includes such things as names, travel dates, itinerary, credit cards and contact details. Kept on file for six months, the details will be collected from European carrier flights entering and leaving member countries. The proposal was first made in 2007, but went nowhere as lawmakers tried to strike a balance between security concerns and individual privacy rights. But attacks such as those in Paris, France, in 2015 broke the parliamentary logjam. Efforts to keep people safe from terrorists are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one or more effort. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor offering you opinion on how well you think the effort will work. Include an idea for a better approach, if you like.

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. Chemical Weapons Decline

Stockpiles of chemical weapons have declined about 90 percent since 1997, when a global treaty was adopted that prohibits them. The treaty was signed by 87 countries, but the number has since increased to more than 190. The decline has been hailed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. It said eradication of stockpiles was “well under way” in the two nations with most of the weapons — Russia, whose supply is scheduled for elimination before 2020, and the United States, which has a target date of 2023. The treaty to reduce chemical weapons was an effort to change the way military forces operate and to reduce risks to both soldiers and non-military civilians. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another change being made by the military in the United States or another nation. Use what you read to design a poster highlighting the most important things people should know about the change, and why. Use images from the newspaper or the Internet to illustrate your poster.

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.

4. Leech Named for Novelist

A rare honor has come to novelist Amy Tan — a tiny Australian leech has been named for her. The two-millimeter long, one-millimeter-wide leech was named “Chtonobdella TANae” by the American Museum of Natural History, after she mentioned such leeches in her book “Saving Fish From Drowning.” Tan has long been a supporter of the natural history museum and has even accompanied researchers on trips into the field. Talking about a proposed trip to Australia, Tan quipped, “I hope to take leisurely walks through the jungle, accompanied by a dozen or so of my namesakes feeding on my ankles.” Scientists are always studying nature to better understand the world, and often make new discoveries. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a nature discovery that has been made by scientists. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips explaining the discovery and why it is important to scientists.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. Fashion House Sold

In the world of high fashion, the Balmain house of designers is beloved by Hollywood celebrities and wealthy people of Europe. Now the institution in Paris, France has been bought by a private investment group linked to the royal family in the Middle East nation of Qatar. It’s the latest in a string of investments by the Mayhoola group to own and control luxury brands. As 100 percent owner of Balmain, Mayhoola says it will “accelerate its development with the opening of new stores abroad” and to fund expansion of its accessories businesses. When businesses expand or acquire other businesses, it makes news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about this kind of business activity. Use what you read to write a consumer column, explaining the deal and detailing what it will mean to consumers.

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.