For Grades 5-8 , week of Aug. 14, 2017

1. Bikers Block Bullying

Bullying is a problem that affects students all over the country. When school started this month in DeKalb, Indiana, however, an 11-year-old who had been bullied in the past got some unexpected help. Nearly 50 motorcycle bikers escorted sixth grader Phil Mick to middle school on the first day of school. The support ride was organized by Brent Warfield of a local motorcycle shop, who had learned from Phil’s mother that he been bullied for being overweight. “I was bullied when I was younger,” Warfield told The Washington Post newspaper. “I told his mom, ‘I’ve got a bunch of big-hearted biker friends who would love to help.’” On the first day of school, Phil rode with his new biker friends on the back of a bike. It was his first motorcycle ride, and “Phil was just in heaven,” Warfield said. “He walked in with confidence.” When people join together to oppose bullying, it makes bullies less willing to pick on other people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different ways people have joined together to stand up to bullying. Use what you read to write a short editorial, highlighting approaches you think would be worth trying in your school or community. Share and discuss editorials 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.

2. Microchip Employees

How much of a high-tech world would you want to live in? In the state of Wisconsin, a company that develops software used in vending machines has offered employees a chance to get a microchip implanted that would let them perform a wide range of tasks with the wave of a hand. Employees of the Three Square Market firm who volunteer for the chips would be able to use them to open doors, pay for purchases, share business cards, store medical information and log in to their computers, among other things. Three Square Market says it will be the first company in the United States to implant chips in its employees. Technology is changing the way people live and work. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about technology being used in a new way that affects lives or work. Use what you read to create a series of comic strips illustrating how the technology is changing the way people live and work, and any challenges that need to be dealt with.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. Chicken Wing Shortage

Americans love their chicken wings, especially during the summer months and football season. But all that love is causing a problem. Chicken producers are having a hard time keeping up with demand, and there is now a nationwide shortage of wings. That means higher prices for families at the grocery store, and higher prices on the menu at restaurants like Wingstop and Buffalo Wild Wings. So-called “boneless” chicken wings, which are just made of sliced chicken meat, are not affected by the shortage. Both Wingstop and Buffalo Wild Wings say they will be encouraging customers to order boneless wings by offering them at a cheaper price. The rules of “supply and demand” affect the prices people pay for goods and services. When the supply of something is low and demand is high, prices rise. When supply is high and demand low, prices drop. As a class, discuss products affected by “supply and demand.” Then use the newspaper and Internet to find and read stories about products for which the supply and demand could change. Use what you read to write a business column predicting what might happen to prices for two products in the holiday shopping season at the end of the year.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; closely reading written or visual texts to make logical inferences from it.

4. Driver Ed for Police

In Casa Grande, Arizona, there has been a spike in accidents involving police vehicles this year, and the police chief is doing something about it. Chief Mark McCrory has ordered all 80 of the department’s officers to take extra driver safety training. Chief McCrory said he does not think his officers are bad drivers, but he thinks they would benefit from a refresher course in “driver ed.” “We test with our firearms very regularly, in some cases weekly, and I think it's just time we do the same thing with our vehicles,” he told a local reporter. Many careers require that people receive training, refresher education or regular practice for skills they use. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such training for employees. Use what you read to write a paragraph describing why such training is necessary and how people benefit from it.

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.

5. Pet Food Impact

Millions of people own cats and dogs as pets, and those pets eat a lot of food. In particular, they eat a lot of meat, which has a big impact on the environment, according to a new study. The study by UCLA researcher Gregory Okin estimates that America’s 180 million cats and dogs consume about 25 percent of all animal-produced calories consumed in the United States each year. Producing that meat has a big environmental impact, requiring more land, water and energy and generating more pollution than plant-based foods. Okin’s study estimates that producing meat-based pet foods creates as many as 64 million tons of greenhouse gases, or about the same as driving more than 12 million cars around for a year. “If you are worried about the environment, then in the same way you might consider what kind of car you buy … this is something that might be on your radar,” Okin said in an interview with the Washington Post newspaper. In addition to the way food is produced, many factors contribute to global warming. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one factor that contributes to global warming. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor calling attention to this factor, and what could be done to address it.

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.