Yak’s Corner

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Lessons for

Grades 1-4
Grades 5-8

Past lessons
for Grades 9-12

Dec. 11, 2017
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Sep. 25, 2017
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For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 25, 2017

1. Targeting North Korea

President Trump has put a big bull’s eye on North Korea, as the U.S. and other nations seek to get the Asian nation to halt developing nuclear weapons and missiles. In a speech to the United Nations, Trump threatened “to totally destroy North Korea” if the U.S. is “forced to defend itself or its allies.” He later announced new punitive sanctions that would allow the U.S. Treasury Department to take action against foreign banks helping execute trade transactions with North Korea. “North Korea’s nuclear program is a grave threat to peace and security in our world, and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said. Economic sanctions are often imposed by other nations to change the behavior or policies of governments. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other instances when economic sanctions have been tried. Use what you read to write an analysis of how successful sanctions have been in other cases.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

2. Star Power

Celebrities have great power to inspire their fans, so it’s inspiring to see them do it for a good cause. They did exactly that on September 12, when hundreds of stars from music, movies, TV and sports turned out for the “Hand in Hand” benefit telethon at Universal Studios in California. As a result of their efforts, more than $55 million was raised to provide relief for victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Celebrities like Beyonce, Drake, Demi Lovato, Kerry Washington, Justin Bieber, Chris Paul, Oprah Winfrey and Sean “Diddy” Combs performed and manned the donation phones at the telethon. Beyonce, whose home town of Houston, Texas, was hard hit by Harvey, told viewers, “Just when you think it couldn’t possibly get worse, natural disasters take precious life, do massive damage and forever change lives. … We’re all in this together.” Celebrities can help call attention to issues or causes they support. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an issue you think needs attention. Then pick one male and one female celebrity you think would be good choices to call attention to this cause. Write a paragraph for each, explaining the choice.

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

3. Power of Reading

Reading can change your life. And if you need proof, ask Wanda Steward of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At age 46, Steward could not read, and was struggling when her job made new reading and learning demands on her. Today, at age 47, Steward not only has learned to read — she has written a children’s book that has earned national attention. Growing up, Steward struggled in school and eventually dropped out of high school. She worked jobs that didn’t require reading, but last year realized her future was blocked unless she learned how. She enrolled in classes run by Philadelphia’s Center for Literacy, and found she could master the skills that had frustrated her for so long. And she found her creativity, turning stories she had told her children into the book “The Little Chicken Named Pong-Pong.” But that wasn’t all: Her book was picked for a nationwide reading campaign run by Project Literacy and read in the digital edition by one of Steward’s favorite actors, Idris Elba of “The Wire” TV series. “He said he really liked the book,” she said. “He said he really believed in me.” Wanda Steward turned a real life experience into a children’s book. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about a person’s experience that could be turned into a children’s story. Or choose an experience you have had that could be turned into a children’s story. Write out the story using words a younger reader would understand. Then illustrate your story, with drawings or photos from the newspaper. Your stories can rhyme, if you like.

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.

4. No New Landmark

In New York City, a plan to create a new landmark on a pier in the Hudson River has been dropped after years of debate and legal wrangling. Billionaire Barry Diller had wanted to build and operate a $250 million performance center on the site of the decaying Pier 54, but another billionaire and an aggressive group of critics successfully blocked it after a series of legal and political challenges. The project had the support of the Hudson River Park Trust, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, but critics backed by billionaire real estate executive Douglas Durst argued it would disrupt the habitat of the Hudson River, a protected estuary. Big construction projects sometimes cause controversy in communities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a controversy or debate caused by a construction project. Use what you read to write an editorial, giving your opinion on whether the project should go forward. Support your arguments with facts from your reading.

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.

5. Youngest Council Member

Ever since he was a little boy, 18-year-old Robert Blake Margolis has wanted to be an elected official in his home town of Rowlett, Texas. On September 13, he got his wish when he was sworn in as a member of the Rowlett City Council. Margolis, a home schooled high school senior, is the youngest person ever to serve on the Rowlett council. He was elected in a special election to fill three City Council seats in August. He won his race by winning two-thirds of the vote against two other candidates. “I may be 18 … but I don’t believe age matters,” he told a local TV station. “I believe qualifications and experience does.” Every person has skills and qualities that could make them effective as an elected official or community leader. Pair off with a classmate and make a list of the skills each of you has that would make you an effective leader or elected official. Then design a campaign ad for each of you, highlighting your skills and qualities. Share with classmates and discuss. Who had the most creative or eye-catching ads?

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.