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

1.Huge Media Deal

AT&T has agreed to buy Time Warner, the parent company of CNN and HBO, for $85.4 billion. The deal will have impact for millions of people. It will produce a huge new media giant that is capable of producing content and distributing it with wireless phones, broadband subscriptions and satellite TV connections. AT&T’s chief executive said, “We’ll have the world’s best premium content with the networks to deliver it to every screen.” If the merger is approved by federal regulators, it would be another major consolidation in the media world. In recent years agreements have been announced for Comcast to acquire NBC Universal; Verizon to acquire the Huffington Post and Yahoo; Lionsgate to buy the pay-TV channel Starz; and CBS and Viacom, which split 10 years ago, to considering reuniting. It’s not certain the deal will be approved now that Donald Trump is president. A key economic adviser to the president said not long ago that Trump “would never approve such a deal because it concentrates too much power in the hands of the … powerful few.” In today’s world, people use many devices and networks to access information and entertainment. As a class, discuss which devices and networks are most important to your family. Then find and read stories about them in the newspaper or online. Use discussion points and what you read to write a consumer column, giving your opinion on the benefits (and shortcomings) of one device or network.

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.

2.Sleep Less, Eat More

Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, a new study suggests. In a report in the science journal Sleep, researchers note that getting too little slip can trigger powerful changes in how you eat, causing the sleep-deprived to consume extra calories, most from carbohydrates and fats. Blood tests of people who suffer sleep deprivation showed changes in a chemical signal in the body that affects the appetite. It’s the same system targeted by the active ingredient in marijuana, which causes some people to get “the munchies” and eat more. Scientists are always trying to learn more about the human body and how it responds to different conditions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a scientific study seeking to learn something about the human body. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing the most important goals and achievements of the study, and whom they affect most.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

3. Old-Time Heroes

A nearly 60-foot-high statue of St. Vladimir, patron saint of the Russian Orthodox Church, is rising at a main Moscow crossroads in the European nation of Russia. And it’s the latest in a controversial series of statues going up to salute heroes of Russia’s past. Two others who have been saluted are Ivan the Terrible, a cruel czar from the 1500s, and Josef Stalin, the brutal leader of the communist Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until 1953. Supporters, led by Russia’s Kremlin government and the Russian Orthodox Church, say the statues embody Russia’s values as a robust Christian state with a resolute father figure as a leader. The agreement of the government and the church about the statues is ironic, given that the communist Soviet Union was hostile to all churches. Communities often honor famous people or residents with statues, buildings, street names, murals or other works of art. In the newspaper or online, find an example of such an honor. Then use the newspaper or Internet to research and learn more about this person. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a video or short film explaining why this person was honored. Write the opening scene for your film, in the style of a screenplay. Be sure to include things you would show visually in your opening.

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.

4.Infant Teething Risks

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned parents to stop using some products said to blunt the discomfort of teething in babies. It also is investigating 10 infant deaths linked to the products, which include homeopathic gels and tablets. The agency is also checking reports of seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness and agitation among babies given these products when their first teeth are coming in. In the meantime, the products have been removed from store shelves. Child health and safety issues are often in the news because they affect a great many families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a health or safety issue affecting children. Use what you read to create a comic book or series of comic strips explaining the issue in a way that both families and children can understand. Share as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5.Playing for the Title

This week the “March Madness” of college basketball heads into its final competition to determine which teams will win the NCAA basketball championships for men and women. The “Final Four” games for the Division I men’s and women’s teams will be held next weekend, with the championship games taking place April 2 (for women) and April 3 (for men). In the newspaper or online, closely read stories about NCAA Final Four teams this week. Use what you read to write a sports column predicting which teams you think will play for the championships for the Division I men and women, and why. Try to capture the excitement of the tournament in your writing by using active verbs and colorful adjectives. Share with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Identifying multiple language conventions and using them; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.