Yak’s Corner

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for Grades 9-12

Dec. 11, 2017
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Mar. 06, 2017

For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 06, 2017

1. Trump and Congress

With the election of Donald Trump as president, Republicans now control the White House and the two houses of the U.S. Congress. That gives Republicans a great advantage in passing legislation — provided that they agree on what should be done. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about measures being pushed by the White House and considered by legislators in Congress. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay summarizing some issues the White House and Congress agree on — and some on which they disagree. Share your findings and discuss as a class.

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Peril in Anti-Anxiety Pills

“An accumulating body of evidence” indicates that some common anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills may be dangerous, researchers report in the BMJ journal formerly known as the British Medical Journal. Adjusting for a wide variety of factors, these drugs may more than double the risk of death, the researchers warn. The study included anti-anxiety medications like Valium and Xanax, and sleep aids like Ambien and Lunesta. In the seven-year study, researchers followed 34,727 people who took these drugs and 69,418 who didn’t. Drug safety is often in the news because people who use prescription and non-prescription medications want to know they are safe. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about drug safety or a study about specific medications. Use what you read to brainstorm a public service TV message highlighting the most important things people should know. Write an outline for your ad, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Warrant for Some Drunk Tests

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police need a search warrant to require that drivers take blood alcohol tests, but not the less intrusive breath tests to determine how sober drivers are. All 50 states can revoke licenses for refusing to take drunk tests, but 11 impose criminal penalties. Breath tests do not present “significant privacy concerns,” Justice Samuel Alito observed in the opinion, but two justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said they’d have required search warrants for breath tests, too. Court decisions often are in the news, especially when cases involve individual or constitutional rights. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a court decision making news. Use what you read to write a short editorial, summarizing the case and analyzing the reasoning behind the decision.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. New Element Names

Four new radioactive elements on the periodic table of chemical elements have been given official names by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. They are (with their atomic numbers): nihonium (No. 113), moscovium (No. 115), tennessine (No. 117) and oganesson (No. 118). The names for the super-heavy elements were chosen by the teams of scientists from the United States, Russia and Japan that discovered them. Other, less serious names were suggested by the public: lemmium (for Lemmie Kilmister of the band Motorhead), trumpium and godzillium. The work and discoveries of scientists are often in the news — and sometimes cause debate. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about scientific work or discoveries. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, calling attention to the scientific work, why it is important and whom it will affect most.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Contact Lens Safety

Sleeping or swimming while wearing contact lenses can lead to serious eye infections and injuries, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns. Negative effects could include decreased vision or scarring that could require a corneal transplant, the CDC says. To reduce risks, the CDC recommends that contact wearers avoid sleeping in them and not expose them to tap, distilled or recreational water. While contact use is popular, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that about 1 million clinic and hospital emergency room visits a year are associated with inflammation of the cornea — a condition often caused by contact lenses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is often in the news because it issues reports and studies involving public health. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about the CDC. Use what you read and additional research, to create a multi-media presentation outlining the key points for your class. Illustrate your presentation with images from the newspaper or Internet, if you like.

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; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.