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For Grades K-4 , week of Sep. 25, 2011

1. Safety First

You hear about pedestrians landing in the hospital after being hit by cars while walking, but did you know that in New York State about 1,000 walkers are hospitalized each year after being hit by bicycles? Most of those people are in the highly populated New York City area, where there are huge numbers of people walking in the city each day. According to a Reuters article, the study was done by the Stuart C. Gruskin Family Foundation, which was named after a man killed by a bicycle rider while he was walking. Find an article about safety in the newspaper. Draw an editorial cartoon for the newspaper showing why the issue is important. Or write an opinion piece based on that safety issue.

Learning Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to task, purpose and audience; adding drawings or other visual displays to descriptions to clarify ideas, thoughts and feelings.

2. 'Me Love Cookie!'

Jim Henson was born on September 26, 1936. You may not know who Jim Henson is, but you probably know some of the creatures he created. They include Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Big Bird, Yoda, Cookie Monster and Grover. With the Muppets, he had an amazing talent for creating characters who seem like people -- loving cookies, being really smart and wanting to get along with others. His characters also are fuzzy and lovable. In teams or as a class, read a short story about an interesting person in today's newspaper. Then draw a picture of a "muppet" that has some of the same traits as the person in the article. Give your "muppet" a creative name.

Core Standard: Reading with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension; adding drawings or other visual displays to descriptions to clarify ideas.

3. Not So Fuzzy Friends

Scientists spent years searching the mountains of the Asian nation of India for different kinds of frogs. They discovered 12 new species of tropical frogs and three species that were considered extinct. Amphibians haven't received the love and concern other animals have gotten. People tend to fight for cute, fuzzy animals like panda bears or majestic beasts like the elephant. But 32 percent of the world's amphibian species are threatened with extinction due to a loss of habitat and pollution in the environment. Despite the rarity of the new frogs, getting them protected is going to take work, biologist Sathyabhama Das Biju told the Associated Press. "Unfortunately in India, conservation has basically focused on two ... animals - the elephant and the tiger," he said. As a class, find an article in your newspaper that talks about an endangered animal. Or find an example online. Write a summary of the article making sure to include the major ideas and supporting points.

Core Standard: Asking and answering such questions as who, what, where, when, why and how to understand key details in a text.

4. Smart Grants

Are you a "genius?" Twenty-two Americans can say they are, after they received "genius" grants from a private foundation. They each got $500,000 to pursue an issue or idea that inspires them. People usually are nominated for these grants from the MacArthur Foundation, and many aren't even aware that they have been nominated. One of the missions of the grant is to show the impact one individual can make on the world. For example, one recipient was awarded for his work on head injuries in sports. Another was a musician who teaches music to disadvantaged kids who otherwise wouldn't get music lessons. Search your newspaper for stories about people making a difference in your community. Pick one person to nominate for a "genius" grant. Explain to your class why this person deserves attention and what he/she could do with $500,000 to help the community. Answer any questions your classmates have.

Core Standard: Asking and answering questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

5. Great Job!

Everybody loves a sports star - the quarterback who throws touchdowns, basketball stars who can dunk, pitchers who can strike out hitters. In baseball, relief pitdchers are often the ones who win or lose a game. They are the ones who come in late to close out a game. If their team is ahead and the relief pitcher keeps the team in the lead for a win, it is called a save. New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera set a Major League Baseball record last week, recording his 602nd save in games. Search your newspaper for stories on athletes who might not be well known, but who are doing remarkable things. As a class, discuss what makes someone a person to look up to and admire.

Core Standard: Engaging actively in collaborative discussions.