Yak’s Corner

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 03, 2011

1. It's a Techno-Science World

Despite excellent computer programming, the most sophisticated computer models and extensive knowledge of earthquake activity, six teams of scientists could not predict when and where an earthquake was most likely to occur in a five-year study. The study took into account past seismic history, activity on fault lines and other data. The information was fed into a computer model, the scientists made their best guesses and waited to see what happened. The results were mixed, despite all the training and experience the scientists had. Find a newspaper article that discusses how scientists use technology to find answers to scientific questions. Discuss the article as a class. Then make predictions on how technology will change scientific research in the future.

Core/National Standard: Understanding how technology is essential to science by providing instruments and techniques to make observations.

2. TV and Presidents

On October 5, 1947, President Harry S. Truman gave the first televised presidential address from the White House in Washington, D.C. Today, of course, we're used to seeing presidents make news on TV. We also learn a lot about what the president does from the newspaper. In teams, search today's newspaper to find out what President Obama was doing yesterday and what he's planning to do today. Or look up his schedule at www.whitehouse.gov. Write a paragraph summarizing what you think is the most important thing he will do today.

Core/National Standard: Using reading for multiple purposes, such as gathering information, enjoyment or learning new procedures.

3. Choose Your Words Carefully

Cheat, deceiver, deluder, equivocator, fabricator, falsifier, fibber, maligner, misleader. These are all words Herman Cain, a Republican candidate for president, could have used when talking about President Obama, but instead he chose to call the president a liar. Cain said Obama's efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy while saying it's about "math" and not "class warfare" is "a lie." "Well, if you're not supposed to call the president a liar, he shouldn't tell a lie," Cain said in a Yahoo! News article. How you phrase things in your speech and writing can make the all the difference in the message you intend to deliver. For example, the word "assertive" is more easily accepted than "aggressive," even though it literally means "aggressive." Search the newspaper for articles or opinion pieces that contain inflammatory speech. Cut or print out the articles and highlight the words. Using a thesaurus, find alternative words the speaker or writer might have used that would have changed the tone of the article or opinion piece.

Core/National Standard: Distinguishing among the connotations of words with similar denotations.

4. Spreading Hate in Cyber-Space

Many kids find themselves on the receiving end of a bully's harassment. Usually these encounters happen on the playground or in the hallways between classes. But more and more, bullies are taking to cyber-space to taunt and humiliate other people. According to a Reuters news article, New York State Senator Jeffrey Klein wants cyber-bullying to end now. He introduced a bill in the state's senate that would make cyber-bullying a form of stalking - a felony crime. In addition, if the cyber-bullying led a child to commit suicide, the bully could be charged with second-degree manslaughter. A study recently showed that cyber-bullying can be harder on a victim than a physical beating. In the newspaper or online, find an article about bullying that involves the Internet. Using that article, write a strong argument for or against passing laws to deal with cyber-bullying. Support your claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

Core/National Standards: Writing arguments to support claims with logical reasoning and relevant evidence.

5. Out of This World

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" showed aliens on the silver screen. Roswell, New Mexico, claims to have had them visit. And now, a film documentary from Mexico asserts that the Mayan people there had direct contact with them. Everyone loves a good alien story, but the makers of the film "Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond" insist they will provide evidence that extraterrestrial contact was made with the ancient culture, according to a Reuters article. Mexico is releasing evidence that will be corroborated by archaeologists, the filmmakers say. Find a newspaper article about a controversial topic. Create a multi-media project supporting or disproving key points in the story.

Core/National Standard: Including multi-media components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.