Yak’s Corner

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Grades 1-4
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for Grades 9-12

Dec. 11, 2017
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For Grades 9-12 , week of Aug. 07, 2017

1. Waiving the Rules

As a candidate and as president, Donald Trump has vowed to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico to block illegal immigrants from entering the country. Now, to speed up planning and construction, his administration has said it will set aside environmental laws that regulate activities and development in natural areas. The Department of Homeland Security announced it would waive at least 37 laws and regulations designed to protect wildlife or habitats or regulate development for a section of the project near San Diego, California. Wildlife organizations have identified 93 at-risk species along the entire Mexican border that could be affected by the construction of a border wall, including jaguars and Mexican gray wolves. The construction of a border wall on the U.S.-Mexican border continues to generate debate across the nation. Use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read stories about the debate. What points seem most significant to you? Write a short editorial for the newspaper, summarizing points that important to you and explaining why. 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.

2. Inactive Teens

In the teenage years, kids often grow a lot — but they’re not necessarily growing more active. In fact, a new study reports that physical activity and exercise drop off after elementary school to the point that 19-year-olds are as inactive as people in their 60s! Researchers for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey say increased use of electronic devices is one factor, but they also note that school schedules may contribute because they don’t match teen sleep habits. On the plus side, the teen drop in activity reverses when people reach their 20s and continues until a general drop after age 35. Being active and getting exercise can help people live healthier lives. But activity does not need to be organized like sports competition. Any regular physical activity can benefit people. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories or listings about activities that could help teens be more active. Use what you read to write a social media blog post, discussing several activities that could be both fun and physically active.

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. Driverless Rides

Technology companies have spent billions of dollars developing self-driving cars, and many consumers want to see first-hand how they work. Thanks to the ride-providing company Lyft, they may get to ride in driverless cars on some roads by the end of this year. This summer, Lyft announced customers will be able to summon a driverless car when they call or text for a ride in a pilot program beginning in Boston, Massachusetts. Like other companies testing self-driving cars, Lyft riders in the program will have test drivers sitting in the front seats of the vehicles as a safety precaution. Eventually, the Boston pilot will spread to other cities and involve hundreds of thousands of vehicles, company officials said. Many technology leaders believe self-driving cars will be the wave of the future. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about self-driving cars and how they are being tested. Use what you read to write a consumer column, summarizing risks and benefits that tests have shown about the self-driving cars. Include your own views about whether you would want to ride in a driverless car.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

4. A Mystery Solved

In the European nation of Switzerland, a long running local mystery has been solved. A Swiss couple went missing in 1942 after leaving to milk their cows and never returned. This summer, 75 years later, the bodies of Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin were found frozen in the ice of a receding glacier near their home. The couple’s six children long had believed their father, a shoemaker, and their mother, a school teacher, had fallen into a crevice of the glacier. That appeared to be the case when the couple’s bodies were found by a worker from a local ski resort. The husband and wife were found close together, dressed in World War II era clothes, along with backpacks, watches, a glass bottle and boots. News stories about mysteries, crimes or other unusual events often can provide inspiration for movies or TV shows. Use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about a crime or mystery that has been solved. Use what you read to write a “pitch” letter to a movie or TV producer, telling why you think the story could be turned into an interesting film or show. Give your work a title that would make people want to watch it. Discuss ideas as a class. 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. High Tech at the Hospital

Technology has changed the way people live and work, and now it’s changing the way doctors and patients talk to each other. At Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, patients are being given Apple iPads to help them keep track of the different doctors they see and the care they are given. Hospitals say the mobile devices present patient health data in an accessible way and make it easier for patients and doctors to speak to each other. For patients, the devices help them keep learn about the doctors who see them, view their health records and read education materials about their condition, treatment and medications. Technology is having an impact on people’s lives in many new ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a new use of technology. Use what you read to create an ad for the newspaper or Internet, promoting the advantages of this use of technology.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; 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.