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for Grades 5-8

Dec. 11, 2017
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For Grades 5-8 , week of Aug. 28, 2017

1. One Powerful Tweet

Twitter has become a popular form of communication, and this month one Twitter message became the most popular in the history of the service. It came from former President Barack Obama in response to the deadly violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In a series of “tweets,” Obama said: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. … People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. … For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” The tweets, which were quotes from former South African president Nelson Mandela, became the most “liked” of all time on Twitter, topping Ariana Grande's response to a terrorist attack at her concert in England. Using Twitter forces people to choose their words carefully, because each message can be no more than 140 characters. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an issue that interests you. Give your reaction to the most important parts of the story in three sample Twitter posts of 140 characters or less. Discuss the challenges of this kind of writing.

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.

2. Big Money Fight

Last weekend’s showdown between boxing star Floyd Mayweather and mixed martial artist Conor McGregor was watched by millions of people all over the world. It also generated millions of dollars in revenue from people watching it live or through pay-per-view services. The bout was expected to generate more than $600 million in gross revenue, according to ESPN sports, second only to Mayweather’s bout with Manny Pacquiao in 2015. Going into last weekend’s fight, Mayweather had never lost in 49 professional boxing matches and had been champion in five different weight divisions. McGregor, while one of the most successful athletes in mixed martial arts, had never competed in a pure boxing match. The Mayweather-McGregor fight generated huge interest around the world. But did it live up to expectations? In the newspaper or online, find and read commentary about the fight. Use what you read to write a paragraph analyzing how well the match lived up to expectations.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Lee on Statues

America’s Civil War was fought more than 150 years ago, but it still is inspiring sharp debate and conflict. At issue is what to do with statues and monuments erected to honor heroes of the Confederate states that seceded from the nation over slavery and states’ rights. Many of those statues honor the Confederate General Robert E. Lee. But history experts say Lee himself spoke out against such statues in letters he wrote after the war. In his view statues only “keep open the sores of war” and make it harder to heal. A better approach, he said, would be to “follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife” and work to overcome the anger and ill will generated by the war. The debate over removal of Confederate statues has been heated, and even led to violence in a protest that rocked Charlottesville, Virgina. In the newspaper or online, find and read commentary and opinion pieces about removal of the statues. Use what you read to write a short editorial, giving your opinion on what should be done with the statues. Discuss as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

4. Threat of Plague

In the history of the world, one of the most frightening threats to health has been the disease known as the plague. It killed millions of people in Europe and other places, and now it has cropped up in the U.S. state of Arizona. Public health officials in two Arizona counties are warning residents about the discovery of plague bacteria that are being transmitted by fleas. People and pets bitten by the fleas are at risk for contracting plague, health officials say. The disease poses a big threat to cats, as well as to rabbits, prairie dogs and other rodents. In humans, plague is treatable with antibiotics if detected early, but the symptoms can quickly become serious. Human deaths are rare, however, with only about 7 a year reported in the U.S. Public health officials often issue warnings about situations that could endanger people’s health. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a health issue people need to know about. Brainstorm an idea for a short video or film to inform the public about the issue. Write an outline for your video, including images you would use.

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. Motorhead Croc

A sea crocodile that terrorized coastal Europe 164 million years ago was a nasty, aggressive species, according to scientists. So when they needed a name for it, they turned to rock and roll. Because the croc was “no nice guy,” the scientists named it for the lead singer of the heavy-metal band that recorded “I Ain’t No Nice Guy.” The band was Motorhead and in honor of its founder, Lemmy Kilmister, the ancient croc was called “Lemmysuchus obtusidens.” The “Lemmy” croc was a monster, nearly six meters long, with a meter-long skull and enormous teeth that could crush the shells of giant sea turtles. Scientists sometimes turn to popular culture to name newly discovered species or fossils. They have a little fun while doing it — and you can, too. Use the newspaper or Internet to create a “matching game” of people and species that might be good matches. With the newspaper or Internet, make a list of popular or famous people who have strong personalities. Then brainstorm a list of species that would match those personality types, if new varieties were discovered. Mix up your lists and exchange games with classmates. Discuss how the personality types match up with different species — and which examples people liked most.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic;1. organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.