Yak’s Corner

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for Grades 9-12

Dec. 11, 2017
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For Grades 9-12 , week of July 31, 2017

1.Football Brain Injuries

In recent years there has been growing debate about the risks football players face for long-term brain injuries due to repeated contact involving the head. A new study of the brains of football players has added evidence to the argument that risks are high. Researchers studying the link between football and the brain injury known as CTE found that 99 percent of the brains of former NFL players showed signs of the degenerative disease. All but one of the 111 brains donated by families of ex-NFL players after their deaths were diagnosed with CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Overall, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System found CTE in 177 of 202 brains that belonged to men who played football at all levels — 87 percent. “It’s much more common than we currently realize,” noted researcher Ann McKee. “More importantly, this is a problem in football that we need to address.” The risk of brain injuries from football has gotten more and more attention. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about brain injuries and football. Use what you read to write an editorial or sports column outlining things parents and players should know.

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.‘Forest City’

The Asian nation of China is a growing economic power, and it has a growing air pollution problem from increased manufacturing. To remedy that, the Chinese are planning to build the world’s first pollution-eating “Forest City.” In the city of Liuzhou, the “Forest City” will include homes, hospitals, hotels, schools and offices — all of which will be covered with 40,000 trees and almost a million plants. Each year, the plant life is expected to absorb almost 10,000 tons of the gas carbon dioxide, which is created by burning fossil fuels and contributes to air pollution and global warming. It also will remove 57 tons of pollutants from the air each year, produce 900 tons of oxygen, decrease the air temperature and provide a habitat for wildlife. With more than 70 buildings on 342 acres, it eventually will be home to 30,000 people. Construction of the “Forest City” in China is a new approach for dealing with air pollution. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another new anti-pollution approach. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay describing the approach and discussing its strengths and weaknesses.

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.

3.North Korea Travel Ban

After an American tourist died from injuries sustained in prison in North Korea, the United States will ban Americans from traveling to the communist Asian nation. The move by the Trump Administration came after Otto Warmbier, an American student, was detained while on a trip to North Korea and died without regaining consciousness after being released in a coma. “The safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas is one of our highest priorities,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said as the ban was announced. The North Korean travel ban marks a return to U.S. travel restrictions that were common for communist countries during what was known as the Cold War era in the middle of the last century. North Korea is increasingly in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about activities by the North Korean government. Use what you read to write a letter the editor highlighting actions people should know about, and why they are important.

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.

4.‘A Better Deal’

Since losing the White House to Donald Trump in the 2016 election, the nation’s Democrats have been doing a lot of soul-searching about what went wrong — and how they can do better in the next election. After much discussion, they have come up with a plan to offer “A Better Deal” to American workers and families. The plan will focus on “Better Jobs, Better Wages [and a] Better Future” with a commitment to improve wages, lower costs of everyday expenses and boost job-training opportunities. The goal, said party leaders, is to show voters what the party stands FOR, not just that it stands AGAINST the policies of President Trump and the Republicans who control the U.S. Congress. The name “A Better Deal” recalls the Democrats’ most famous program, “The New Deal,” which helped pull the nation out of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Both Democrats and Republicans are looking ahead to the 2018 election, in which one third of the seats in U.S. Senate and all those in the U.S. House of Representatives will be contested. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about positions the parties are taking. Use what you read to write a political analysis of what issues you think will be the most important in 2018.

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.Barbers to the Rescue

Kansas City, Missouri, has had an outburst of gun violence this summer, and local barbershop owners are stepping up to stop it. They agreed to stay open round the clock one weekend this month to give young adults and teens a place to gather and talk out problems rather than resort to violence. As part of an effort called Operation Ceasefire KC, eight shops stayed open an entire weekend, giving free haircuts and advice for people who came in. “The barbershop is the foundation for our community,” said Ceasefire organizer Ronell Bailey. “You can come to our barbershops and get advice from barbers. … You can even walk in and get a problem solved any time of the day.” Kansas City barbershop owners took an unusual step to reduce gun violence. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about someone else who is taking an unusual step to address a problem. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short film or video explaining the effort. Write an outline for your film, 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.