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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of May 22, 2017

1. Harry Potter Onstage!

People just can’t get enough of Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling’s books continue to be best sellers around the world, and a play featuring a new Potter story has been setting records for attendance and awards in London, England. Now that play — “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” — is coming to America. According to the “Cursed Child” website, the play will open on Broadway in New York City in April next year. The play was written by Rowling and two co-writers, based on a Rowling story. It imagines the characters of Harry, Hermione and Ron as adults, with children of their own headed to the Hogwarts School of Wizardry. The Harry Potter play is giving fans of the books a chance to think about new experiences the famous wizard could have with his friends. Think about Potter books you have read or other favorite books and brainstorm an idea for a new experience the characters might have. Write a synopsis of your idea as if it were a film “treatment.” Share with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Monkeys at Risk

Yellow fever is a constant threat in South America, and the nation of Brazil is having an outbreak that is the largest in 14 years. In response, fear among residents in rural areas has increased, leading to another problem. People are killing howler monkeys because they mistakenly believe the monkeys spread the fever. Like many tropical diseases, yellow fever is spread by mosquitoes, and monkeys are just as much at risk as people. In fact, health experts say, yellow fever among howler monkeys serves as a warning sign that the disease has entered an area. “Without the monkeys in our forests, we’ll be blind to detect the arrival of the yellow fever virus before we start detecting human cases,” one health leader said. Yellow fever generally causes fever, headache, yellow skin, muscle pain, vomiting and fatigue, but severe cases can cause death. In developing nations, the outbreak of diseases can have terrible effects. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a disease outbreak that is affecting a nation somewhere in the world. Use what you read to write a short editorial, giving your opinions on how the United States or other nations could help people affected by the disease outbreak in their country.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. A Packer Garage Sale

Running back Eddie Lacy spent the first four years of his NFL career playing for the Green Bay Packers, but this spring he signed with the Seattle Seahawks. That left him with a huge amount of Packers gear he no longer needed. What to do? Lacy decided to hold a garage sale of the gear in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with all the proceeds going to charity. Not surprisingly, thousands of Packer fans turned out, looking to acquire a special piece of memorabilia for their favorite team. Lines stretched for blocks in Lacy’s neighborhood, with only 10 people allowed in at a time. Needless to say, the two-day sale sold out on the first day. Sports stars often do things to help the community. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a sports star helping the community. Write a letter to the editor of the newspaper, publicly thanking this star for his/her help.

Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. A Measles Outbreak

In most of North and South America, the measles disease has been eliminated by vaccine drugs and shots. In the U.S. state of Minnesota, however, resistance to the use of vaccines has led to the state’s worst measles outbreak in decades. The Somali immigrant community in the city of Minneapolis has refused to vaccinate children against measles in the belief vaccines cause autism. Since early April, more than 44 cases have been identified in Minnesota, nearly all from the Somali-American community. All but two occurred in people who were not vaccinated. The use of vaccines to prevent diseases like measles was once automatically accepted by families. But fears of autism and other side-effects has sparked opposition to vaccines by some parents. That has led other parents to protest that unvaccinated children are exposing others to risks. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the debate over vaccines. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a creative story involving the controversy. Write a plot summary for your story. Then write the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. Singing in Surgery

Brain surgery is one of the most difficult procedures doctors perform, because the brain controls all other parts of the body. To make sure the surgery isn’t causing damage, surgeons have developed techniques to partially wake patients during the operation and asking them to talk. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, recently, they got more than they asked for. Patient Zachary Zortman not only talked — he started singing! It was not surprising, since Zortman is a musician, but it was a first for doctors at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. Zortman held the team in the operating room spellbound while performing favorite songs, including “Bust a Move” by Young MC and “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran. He since has recorded a song “Meant to Live” to encourage other cancer patients. The practice of waking patients during brain surgery is a new approach designed to improve medical care. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another new approach that is improving medical care. Use what you read to create text for a one-minute TV newscast explaining the approach and how it helps patients. Read your text aloud to make sure it will fit in a one-minute time slot. Make changes if necessary. Then present your newscast to the class.

Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.