Weekly Reader Connections

Teacher Guide: Lesson 8.5

The Weekly Reader Connections feature on Kids' Place Houghton Mifflin Math provides your students with additional information about the topics that appear in the Curriculum Connection feature in their student books.

The article “Are You Overloaded?” informs students about the Weekly Reader's annual backpack-weight surveys. Explain that some schools have implemented short backpack-planning periods to give their students time to evaluate what they have in their packs and decide whether they need to be carrying it all. Other schools want to eliminate backpacks altogether. Many schools insist that students use packs with wheels so they can pull their packs instead of carrying them.

The Word Wise activity has children identify and list words and phrases in the article that mean large or heavy. Words and phrases may include the following.

  • more than 50 pounds
  • bulging
  • heavy
  • jumbo-sized
  • several pounds
  • overloaded
Students are then asked to add other words with the same meaning to their list. You may want to provide students with a thesaurus to help them complete their lists.

As they do the Data Hunt activity, students should have no difficulty interpreting the graphed results of the Weekly Reader backpack survey. Point out that, although we generally use fractions with customary units of measure, the graph gives the numbers of pounds as decimals. Have students note that although the vertical scale is marked in whole numbers of pounds, each bar bears a decimal amount that identifies its height. Make sure that students understand that the bar for 2000-2001, for example, represents seven and nine-tenths pounds.

Have students answer these questions about the graph.
  1. For which year was the average backpack the heaviest?
    Answer: 1997-1998
  2. Write the heaviest weight in words.
    Answer: eight and one tenth pounds
  3. For which year was the average backpack the lightest?
    Answer: 1998-1999 and 2001-2002
  4. Write the lightest weight in words.
    Answer: seven and two tenths pounds
  5. If you had a backpack that weighs 1.6 pounds more than the 1999-2000 average, how much would your backpack weigh?
    Answer: 9.1 pounds
  6. If you have a backpack that weighs 1.6 pounds less than the 1999-2000 average, how much would your backpack weigh?
    Answer: 5.9 pounds
If time allows, you may wish to ask students to empty their backpacks and make a list of everything that they took out. Next, ask them to evaluate whether they really needed to carry all those things with them. Ask volunteers to explain why they either need, or do not need, to carry each item.

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 5