For Grades K-4 , week of June 05, 2017

1. Greening of Antarctica

The continent of Antarctica is known for its ice, snow, glaciers and penguins. But in recent years, it has become known more and more for something else — green moss that is growing in areas that used to be covered with snow. Due to rising temperatures, moss growth has “increased by four or five times” on the western Antarctic Peninsula, according to a new study. Higher temperatures and less ice are opening up more land for the moss to expand into. “If you'd taken a photograph of these parts of the Peninsula 50 years ago it would have been a [total] shot of ice," researcher Dominic Hodgson told CNN news. “Today that photo would show extensive patches of green.” Global warming and climate change are having effects on natural areas all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one area that is affected. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing the three most important points of the story.

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. Talking to Dogs

For many people, it is terrifying to have to stand up and speak in front of a class or a group. At the business school of American University this spring, students preparing to give graduation speeches got some unusual help. From dogs. The university in Washington, DC, is believed to be the first in the nation to set up an “audience dog” program to help students relax while practicing their speeches. The program is based on the same idea as reading programs that help beginning readers gain confidence by reading to dogs or other pets. Dogs are good listeners and they don’t make judgments or comments. Students who took part in the program reported a drop in nervousness after practicing with dogs. Dogs and other pets help people in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a pet helping or benefiting people. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing how this pet is helping.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.

3. High-Flying King

Many people have hobbies to give themselves a break from their regular jobs. But who knew a king would secretly work as an airline pilot? King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands revealed recently in an interview with a Dutch newspaper that he’s been helping pilot flights for the KLM airline for more than 20 years. The king said he has taken the co-pilot’s chair for short flights around the continent of Europe for KLM’s Cityhopper division, and used the flights to relax from his royal duties. “For me the most important thing is that I have a hobby for which I need to concentrate completely,” he said. “You have an aircraft, passengers and crew. You have responsibility for them. You can’t take your problems from the ground into the skies.” Everyone can benefit from having a hobby. As a class, discuss hobbies that students or members of their families have. Then write a personal opinion column describing a hobby you have or would like to have, and what you like about it. Share columns as a class.

Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

4. From NFL to Doctor

Like most NFL football players, Myron Rolle had to make plans for what he’d do when his playing days were over. He was a safety on the rosters of the Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers for three years. And this month, he begins a second career that is breaking new ground for NFL players. Rolle, 30, is beginning a neurosurgery residency as a doctor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. As a resident in neurosurgery, Rolle will focus extensively on injuries to the brain — an area of great interest in the NFL due to the risks for concussion head injuries. “Toward the end of my career, I started to think about concussions and what the effects of repetitive concussions can do,” he said in a TV interview. Now he wants to connect both his careers to help football players and others. Medical doctors help people in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a doctor who has done something unusual or skillful to help people. Write a letter to the doctor to tell him or her how their work could inspire others.

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.

5. Seals Go Online

The Saimaa Ringed Seal is one of just five seal species in the world that live in fresh water. It lives in Lake Saimaa in the European nation of Finland, but its future is uncertain because its population has dropped to just 360 seals in the wild. To call attention to this endangered species, wildlife supporters have turned to the Internet. They have been streaming live video of the seals to raise awareness about the dangers the seals face from fishing nets and rising temperatures due to global warming. Higher temperatures reduce the size and number of snowdrifts the seals need for building caves and having their young. Wild animals inspire people with their beauty, skills or habits. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories and photos of a wild animal you like. Use what you read to write a poem, rap or rhyme about how the animal inspires or interests you. Give your poem an eye-catching title and share with classmates.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.