Yak’s Corner

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for Grades 9-12

Dec. 11, 2017
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For Grades 9-12 , week of June 12, 2017

1. Trump’s Climate Decision

The fallout from President Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris agreement on climate change continues to be felt across the United States and around the world. The international agreement was endorsed by 195 nations, and by leaving the U.S. joins just two countries — Nicaragua and Syria — that did not agree to its steps to reduce carbon emissions tied to global warming. Trump said he was withdrawing the U.S. because the agreement would have a bad effect on the U.S. economy. That position has been challenged by business and foreign leaders, as well as environmental groups in the U.S. and around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about reaction to President Trump’s decision to pull out of the international climate agreement. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper analyzing how this decision will affect the United States’ role in the world and its relations with other nations.

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;

2. Birth Rates Changing

Efforts to reduce teen pregnancy are finding success, according to a new summary of “vital statistics” for the nation. According to the summary published in the medical journal Pediatrics, the birth rate among females age 15 to 19 dropped 9% from 2013 to 2014 in the United States — and decreased 61% from 1991 to 2014. At the same time, statistics show that birth rates are increasing for women in their 30s and even their 40s. The Pediatrics summary showed the proportion of first births to women 30 and older in the U.S. rose from 24% to 30% from 2000 to 2014, and the birth rate among women 40 to 44 increased in the U.S. by about 2% from 2013 to 2014. The birth statistics featured in the Pediatrics summary illustrate birth rates are changing among women of different ages. In small groups, discuss why you think the birth rate is dropping for teenage girls and going up for older women. Use points raised in the discussion to write a short editorial giving your group’s views on the reasons for the changes. Try to reach consensus on key points before writing your editorial.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

3. A Wonder for Women

The movie “Wonder Woman” has been a hit with audiences, but it is causing controversy at a theater in Texas. At the Alamo Ritz in the city of Austin a June 6 showing of the film was for girls and women only. “Apologies, gentlemen, but we’re embracing our girl power and saying ‘No Guys Allowed’ for one special night,” the theater announced. “Everyone working at this screening — venue staff, projectionist, and culinary team — will be female.” The screening sold out in a little over two hours, with female fans rushing to buy tickets to the film starring Gal Gadot. But some men were upset, calling the event “sexist,” “bigoted” and “very tacky.” The theater didn’t back down, however. “This has zip to do with equality,” a spokesman said. “This is a celebration of a character that’s meant a great deal to many women since 1940.” Wonder Woman has been an inspiration for girls for nearly 80 years. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another woman who inspires girls or young women. Use what you read to explain why this woman inspires — in the form of a comic book. Share key pages of your book with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.

4. Extension Rights

With the support of the state attorney general’s office, two African American girls at a charter school in Boston, Massachusetts have won the right to wear braided hair extensions. In its dress code rules, the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School had banned hair extensions and hair more than two inches in height. After the parents of twin 15-year-olds Mya and Deanna Cook publicly protested the policy, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a discrimination complaint against the school with the state Education Department. The state attorney general’s office then got involved and said it would investigate allegations the school didn’t hold white students to the same standards. After receiving a strongly worded letter from the attorney general, the school suspended its policy and revoked punishments that had been given the girls. Under the laws of the United States, the rights of individuals are given high importance. Sometimes those rights are violated, however, and communities organize to call attention to a situation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about rights being violated or a community standing up for its rights. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor calling attention to the situation and what you think should be done about it.

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. Ariana’s Benefit

When a terrorist set off a bomb at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, 22 people were killed and 59 injured. On June 4, Grande and some of the top names in music went back to Manchester to perform in a “One Love Manchester” concert to raise money for those affected by the bombing. In addition to Grande, who organized the concert, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Pharrell, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Niall Horan and Take That took the stage and raised $13 million for the “We Love Manchester Emergency Fund.” The Manchester bombing reminded the world that terrorism can affect any community or any situation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts that are being taken in the United States and other nations to increase security from terrorism. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing one approach and how effective you think it will be.

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.