Yak’s Corner

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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of July 24, 2017

1. What a Tip!

Donnie Wahlberg of the band New Kids on the Block is a huge fan of Waffle House restaurants. He’s visited them all over the country when on tour, and he always lets the staff know how much he appreciates them. In Charlotte, North Carolina this month, Wahlberg offered a “thank you” that drew nationwide attention. He tipped the late night staff $2,000 on a bill of just $82.60! He also gave at least one staff member tickets and backstage passes, took selfies with fans and posted a video of his experience. “I know him to have a huge heart and be incredibly generous with both his time and affection,” said fan Allison Kalama. “And apparently now his wallet as well.” For his part Wahlberg said there’s a personal reason he’s nice to restaurant workers. “My mom waited tables, and my dad tended bars for years!” he wrote on Facebook. People often make news by doing something unusually nice for others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has done this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, calling attention to this person’s action and detailing how it could inspire others.

Common 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. Less Grizzly Protection

Grizzly bears are one of the major wildlife attractions of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, and for more than 40 years they have been protected under the nation’s Endangered Species Act. Now, under new rules issued by the U.S. Interior Department, the bears will lose their protection if they roam outside the park’s borders. Under the new rules, grizzlies that stray outside the park will be “managed” under the control of the surrounding states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. That will allow the states to permit hunting of grizzlies, or the killing of bears that harm livestock such as cattle or sheep. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the rules were changed because the grizzlies’ recovery is “one of America’s great conservation successes, the culmination of decades of hard work.” Conservation groups are likely to go to court to block the ruling, which takes effect this month. Protecting wildlife species is an issue important to people all over the world. It also has caused debate over how much protection is needed. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a species that people want to protect, or whose protection status is changing. Use what you read to write a short editorial, giving your view on what kind of protection is needed. Discuss with family or friends.

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.

3. A First for Medicine

In the European nation of Great Britain, doctors preparing a patient for routine eye surgery made a stunning discovery. As surgeons got a 67-year-old woman ready for a cataract removal, they discovered she had 27 soft contact lenses stuck in her right eye. The woman hadn't complained about any vision trouble before the operation and thought any discomfort she felt was due to old age or a condition known as “dry eye.” Seventeen of the disposable lenses were found in one clump that looked like a “blue mass” and the remaining 10 were in different location, according to a report in the BMJ science publication formerly known as the British Medical Journal. No word on why preliminary examination of the woman’s eye had not detected the lenses. Medical issues are often in the news because they affect so many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a medical issue. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining the issue, why it is important and whom it affects most.

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.

4. Arrested for a Skirt

In the United States, wearing a skirt is no big deal for most girls and women. That is not the case in the Middle East nation of Saudi Arabia, where strict Muslim religious rules require that women cover their bodies and heads in public. A young woman who challenged that rule this month found that punishment can be swift. She was arrested after posting videos of herself wearing a short skirt and a top that was cut to show her middle — and charged with wearing “suggestive clothing.” Saudi Arabia has some of the strictest laws for women in the world. In addition to dress restrictions, adult women need to have permission of a “male guardian” to work or travel, and they are prohibited from getting driver's licenses. In many countries, women have fewer rights than they do in the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about women seeking greater rights in a nation other than the United States. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short video or film, highlighting the situation and the issues involved. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use.

Common 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.

5. One Weird Rescue

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. It certainly was in Corpus Christi, Texas, this month for people withdrawing cash from an ATM machine. Along with their dollars and receipts, several got handwritten notes asking them to “please help.” Many of them thought it was a joke, even though one message included a phone number to call. But it turned out to be a serious situation. A man who was sent to repair a lock on the compartment behind the machine got locked in when the door closed behind him. Since he didn’t have his phone with him, he sent messages the only way he could think of. Police eventually freed the worker after two hours by kicking down the door to the compartment. Unusual news often has a funny side. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read such a story. Use what you read to write a humorous poem, rap or song about the story. Share with family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.