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for Grades 5-8

Dec. 11, 2017
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For Grades 5-8 , week of June 26, 2017

1. Clean Electric Cars

Air pollution is a huge problem in the Asian nation of India, and much of it is produced by automobiles. That’s because cars run on gasoline, which produces the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide when burned. Because carbon dioxide is a big cause of global warming, India’s leaders are taking a bold step to address the problem. India has announced a national goal to only sell non-polluting electric cars by the year 2030. With 1.3 billion people, India is one of the world’s most polluted countries. As the country’s economy has grown, new industries and commuters have increased air pollution at a dramatic rate. Health leaders say air pollution in India contributes to 1.2 million deaths per year. Air pollution causes immediate problems by lowering the quality of air people breathe, and long-term problems that contribute to global warming. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an effort to deal with air pollution or global warming by a nation, state or local government. Use what you read to write letter to the editor detailing the biggest benefit of the effort, and the biggest shortcoming.

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. Courting Credits

“Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix is a starting safety for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL and at age 24 has already earned Pro Bowl all-star honors. But something is missing in his life, and he’s working to correct that. Though he attended the University of Alabama, he still lacks the credits he needs to earn his degree in criminal justice. To remedy that, he is taking part in an unpaid internship this summer under a Circuit Court judge in Wisconsin to earn six academic credits toward his degree. Clinton-Dix is serving 180 hours in the apprenticeship under Judge Don Zuidmulder, who refers to Clinton-Dix by his given name of Ha’Sean, rather than his nickname of “Ha Ha.” After the internship, Clinton-Dix will be eight credits away from graduation. Completing a college education improves career opportunities, and many people do special things to reach that goal. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person who is making extra or special effort to get a college education. Use what you read to write a personal letter to the person, encouraging him/her by explaining how he/she inspires others with the effort.

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.

3. An Overweight World

Scientists have long known that being overweight or obese can have negative effects on health. A new study has now found that the problem is bigger than ever. The study of people in 195 countries and territories found that approximately one-third of the world’s population is now overweight or obese — more than 2 billion adults and children around the world. The United States has the greatest percentage of obese children and young adults, at 13%, while Egypt leads in terms of adult obesity, with almost 35%. In raw numbers, the U.S. also has the greatest number of obese adults, with 79.4 million (35% of the population). The Asian nations of China and India have the highest numbers of obese children, with 15.3 million and 14.4 million, respectively. Researchers for the study attributed the rise in weight problems to poor diets, reduced physical activity and city lifestyles that limit exercise and increase poor food choices. Maintaining a healthy weight requires that people get exercise and eat a healthy diet. In the newspaper or online find and read stories about exercise and diet that can help control weight. Use what you read to create a public service TV commercial focusing on one way to get exercise or eat a healthy diet. Write a screenplay for your ad, including images to go with your message.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

4. Losing Their Homes

In the Russian city of Moscow, people have less freedom to voice their opinions than citizens of the United States. Even so, a plan to replace aging apartment buildings with new ones has drawn sharp and vocal protests. The problem for an estimated 1.6 million Moscow residents is that they bought and paid for their apartments and spent significant amounts of money to improve them. Now the government says the buildings are beyond repair and need to be replaced to improve the overall quality of housing in the city. According to a proposed law, the city will provide each owner with an apartment of equal size, but there will be no extra compensation for money that owners have spent improving their homes. That has led residents to protest publically on Moscow streets and on social media. Public protests are a way to call attention to issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a protest or planned protest over an issue. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing how effective you think the tactics and message of the protest are (or will be). Ask family members to talk about protests they thought were effective.

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Can Nature Heal You?

Experiencing nature is known to have positive effects on emotions, but can it help heal physical problems as well? The U.S. military wants to find out and has launched a study to measure the physical and mental effects of being outdoors in a peaceful setting. The study will work with the Green Road project for long-term patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The Green Road project exposes patients to nature, and the new study will measure heart rates and other health data of patients experiencing nature through the program. Researchers will compare that data against that of patients who spend time in busier parts of the complex. There are many benefits to being outside in nature. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a natural area in your state or community. Then find photos of the area online. Use what you find to create an art collage showing the benefits that this natural area provides people. Finish by discussing natural areas you like with family or friends. Create a picture or painting of one place that expresses how it makes you feel.

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; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.