Yak’s Corner

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for Grades 5-8

Dec. 11, 2017
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For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 16, 2017

1. Heroes and Victims

The wildfires that have swept across Northern California have brought devastation and misery to the people who live there. They have also inspired incredible acts of bravery and compassion, as flames destroyed more than 3,500 homes and businesses. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people who have experienced great loss or provided heroic assistance in the California fires. Use what you read to write a personal opinion column, telling how the experiences of several people involved in the fires could inspire others who are facing hardship or adversity.

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.

2. Growing Ice Channel

The continent of Antarctica is being affected by global warming in many ways, and a new study has revealed one that could have dramatic effect. Warming ocean water is hollowing out a huge channel in the underside of the Dotson ice shelf and that could lead to a breakup of the shelf within 40 years, according to the study by scientists from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. The newly discovered channel is three miles wide and 37 miles long, researchers say and is thinning the shelf significantly every year. The melting in the channel is reducing the thickness of the shelf by 45 feet per year, the scientists say, compared to a rate of about eight feet a year for the ice shelf as a whole. The Dotson ice shelf in western Antarctica is about 1,350 square miles in area and between 1,000 and 1,600 feet thick. It is a significant formation, because it holds back movement of two large glaciers. Global warming and climate change are having effects all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one effect. Use what you read to create a power point or multi-media presentation to outline key points for the class. Present your power point and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic;

3. Seuss Mural Removed

Dr. Seuss is one of the most beloved children’s authors in the world, but a mural based on an illustration from his first book has been pulled from a museum display in Massachusetts. The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in the city of Springfield removed an art mural depicting characters from “And to Think It Happened on Mulberry Street” after three children’s authors protested that it contained a “jarring racial stereotype” of an Asian character. The image, which first appeared 80 years ago when the book was published in 1937, portrayed a Chinese man with slanted eyes, a pointed hat, chopsticks and a bowl of rice. The authors said it could be “very hurtful” to Asian Americans and other children who viewed it. After reviewing the mural, the museum agreed to replace it with one depicting characters and messages from later books of the author, whose real name was Theodor Geisel. Museum officials said they felt the author would approve, noting “Ted Geisel himself said, ‘It’s not how you start that counts. It’s what you are at the finish.’” People’s attitudes change over time, and things that were acceptable in the past are not considered acceptable today. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ideas, books, artworks or monuments that are getting new attention from audiences today due to changing attitudes. Use what you read to write a short editorial, giving your view on how one or more example should be treated or dealt with.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. A True Hero

A Minnesota man who helped rescue a kidnapped teenage girl refused to accept a $7,000 reward for his actions — and instead turned the money over to the girl’s family. Earl Melchert discovered the girl running through a field on his property after she had escaped from captivity that had lasted nearly a month. When he discovered her, she had just swum across part of a lake to escape three men who had imprisoned and assaulted her for 29 days. The police chief of Alexandria, Minnesota, told him he was entitled to the reward for calling police and protecting the girl until officers could arrive. But he would have none of it. “I think it’s going to the best place it can go,” he said when turning over the money to the girl’s family. People can be heroes in many ways. They can do physical things like rescuing someone, or they can take heroic or courageous stands on issues. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about someone who has done something heroic in your view. They can be famous or not famous, and their action can be large or small. Use what you read to write a “Profile of a Hero,” telling the story of what this person did and why you consider it heroic.

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. Goodbye, USA

For the first time since 1986, the U.S. men’s soccer team will not be part of the World Cup competition when it begins next year. In a stunning upset, the U.S. squad was defeated 2-1 in a regional qualifying competition by the team from Trinidad and Tobago, the lowest ranked squad in the competition. Trinidad/Tobago had won just one of its previous nine matches, and was a huge underdog in the match. One of the Trinidad goals was scored by U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez, who kicked the ball into his own goal by mistake. “I never thought that I would see this day,” Gonzalez said. “It’s the worst day of my career.” Upsets are always big news when they happen in sports. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a sports upset. Then think like a sportswriter and write out five questions you would like to ask the upset winner, and five questions you would like to ask the loser. As a class, discuss what kind of questions would get the most interesting answers.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.