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For Grades 5-8 , week of Nov. 07, 2022

1. Election 2022

In elections, citizens express their beliefs and opinions through the leaders they choose. This year, that is certainly true in hotly contested races for U.S. Senate, U.S. House and governorships around the nation. As a class, discuss how different candidates reflect the values and beliefs of people who vote for them. Then discuss what beliefs could be expressed about issues by a vote for Republican candidates or Democratic candidates in this year’s election on Tuesday. Make a master list on an erase board, smart board or chalkboard. Then have the class vote to pick the three beliefs or issues that are most important for students. Write up the results of the vote in the style of a news story.

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

2. Swift Soars

Since becoming a music star at age 16, Taylor Swift has surprised listeners again and again in her singing career. Now she has done something no music star has ever achieved before. Ten songs from her new “Midnights” album claimed all of the Top 10 spots in the Billboard Hot 100 list put out by Billboard magazine. By going 10 for 10 with songs from her 10th album, Swift broke a record previously held by Drake and his 2021 album “Certified Lover Boy,” which had nine hits in the Top 10. “Anti-Hero,” a song about Swift’s inner battles, topped the list with some 59.7 million streams and 32 million radio airplay impressions. It was followed at Numbers 2 and 3 by “Lavender Haze,” a song about love’s uplifting emotions, and “Maroon,” a track revisiting a fizzled-out relationship. The remaining Top 10 songs were “Snow on the Beach,” “Midnight Rain,” “Bejeweled,” “Question…?,” “You’re on Your Own, Kid,” “Karma” and “Vigilante S---.” Even Swift, who’s now 32, seemed impressed by her Top 10 sweep. “10 out of 10 of the Hot 100??? On my 10th album??? I AM IN SHAMBLES,” she wrote on Twitter. Taylor Swift is one of the most popular singers in the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about her music or the music of another artist you like. Think like a music critic and write a review of the artist’s music, telling what you like about it, why it is well crafted and how it connects with listeners.

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.

3. ‘Smiley Face’ Sun

At one time or another, almost every child has drawn a smiley face that looks like the sun. America’s NASA space agency has taken a picture of the sun that looks as though it is smiling — but it may not be a happy event for Earth. The “face” was caused by slightly cooler sections of the sun’s surface known as “coronal holes,” and they are more than just interesting shapes, the Washington Post newspaper reported. Coronal holes are areas of high magnetic activity sending a solar wind of protons, electrons and other particles into the universe. When the electrically charged particles hit Earth in small doses, they cause colorful aurora displays in the night sky. If a large number of these charged particles hit Earth, they could disrupt radio, television and other communication channels. “More … than a smiley face, its eyes are like gleaming laser beams sending particles that can cause severe disruptions … on Earth,” one expert said. NASA scientists are always looking to learn more about unusual or special events in space. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an event that scientists are learning more about. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling what scientists have learned about this event and why that is important.

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.

4. Who’s Number 1?

The college basketball season begins this week, and fans already are debating which teams should be ranked at the top of the Division I men’s competition. The popular Associated Press pre-season poll ranks the University of North Carolina as Number One, followed by Gonzaga University in the state of Washington at Number 2. Last year, Carolina surprised fans by going all the way to the championship game of the NCAA’s “March Madness” tournament as a Number 8 seed, before losing to Kansas. Gonzaga had the overall Number 1 ranking entering the NCAA tournament before losing in the Sweet 16 round. In the remainder of the Top 10 of the Associated Press pre-season ranking, Houston is Number 3, followed by Kentucky (4) Kansas and Baylor (tied for 5), Duke (7), UCLA (8), Creighton (9) and Arkansas (10). In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about games involving one or more of the top-ranked men’s college basketball teams. Use what you read to write a sports column analyzing how their performance in games this week could affect their overall ranking — and what are their major challenges ahead.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

5. Musical Medicine

Learning to play a musical instrument can give people pleasure all through life. It also can help them survive brain surgery, doctors in the European nation of Italy have proved. A man undergoing a nine-hour operation to remove a brain tumor played the saxophone the whole time, the Washington Post newspaper reports. The playing by the 35-year-old saxophonist helped doctors avoid sections of the brain the patient needed to control and play the instrument. Patients staying awake for brain surgeries is becoming more and more common, thanks to targeted anesthesia drugs that allow patients to remain awake without feeling pain. In recent years patients have played the guitar and violin and even sung opera music during surgeries. In the Italian surgery at a hospital in the city of Rome, the patient played the love theme from a 1970s movie called “Love Story” and the Italian national anthem. He went home three days later to his wife and two children, the hospital reported. Advances in medicine are often in the news because they affect so many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a medical advance. Use what you read to prepare a two-minute TV news report explaining the importance of the advance and whom it will affect most. Write the text for your report and read it aloud to make sure it does not go over two minutes. Include photos from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your report.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.