Yak’s Corner

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Dec. 04, 2017

1. Spacy Record Album

When America’s NASA space agency launched the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft, it included a special gift for any extraterrestrials that might encounter them. And soon you could own a copy of that gift, too. On board the Voyagers launched in 1977 were specially recorded albums offering a “message from Earth” that included everything from whale sounds to rock music to greetings in 55 languages. The albums, made of copper and coated with gold for protection, also included a message from then-President Jimmy Carter. “This is a present from a small distant world,” Carter said. “… We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.” Copies of “The Voyager Golden Record” are being offered by Ozma Records. The two Voyager spacecraft, meanwhile, are still operating and sending back data to NASA. The missions of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are among the greatest successes of space exploration. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another successful space mission. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing what the mission has achieved and why that is important to scientists.

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. Warm Personalities

Everybody knows that weather can affect your mood. But did you know that the climate of the place you live may affect your personality? A new study just published in the magazine Nature indicates that people who live in warm, sunny regions where the average temperature is about 72 degrees are likely to be friendlier, more outgoing, agreeable, and willing to try new things. They also may be more conscientious, emotionally stable and open, the researchers say. “Growing up in temperatures that are close to the … comfort optimum encourages individuals to explore the outside environment, thereby influencing their personalities,” the authors of the study note. Many things affect the moods and personalities of people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person in the news. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay outlining what things in the person’s life could have an effect on his/her mood or personality. Explain why each think could have an effect.

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. Evictions in China

As it grows as an economic power in the world, the Asian nation of China is pushing to become more modern and prosperous at home. A move to modernize the capital city of Beijing, however, has drawn criticism after thousands of migrant workers were evicted from their homes in the dead of winter. The evictions came after a fire in an unsafe apartment house killed 19 people, but they were widely seen as part of China’s plan to upgrade and beautify the capital city. Critics denounced the evictions as cruel, and hundreds of volunteers offered temporary housing, assistance, food or clothing. As a growing power in the world, China is often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about something China is doing. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, discussing why China’s actions are important to itself and to other nations.

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.

4. Remembering with Love

Losing a friend to cancer leaves a big hole in your life. But 16-year-old Emma Kurtz of Lakewood, Colorado has found a way to fill it. Each year since her friend Taylor Easterberg died of lymphoma Emma has done something to help others in memory of Taylor. This year she decided to knit scarves for the homeless. She started knitting early in the fall and with the help of volunteers created 160 hand-made scarves by the time she was done. She and Taylor’s mother distributed the scarves to areas where the homeless gather. Each had a tag with a picture of Taylor and a note that said each scarf was a way to show that his “love lives on.” At this time of year, many people and organizations do things to help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effort. Use what you read to create a series of comic strips illustrating how the help is making a difference for the people receiving it.

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.

5. J. Crew Closings

It has not been a good year for retail stores. More stores have closed this year than any year on record — 6,700 through the end of October. Now the once-popular clothing chain J. Crew is joining the ranks of companies that are cutting back. Just as the holiday shopping season started, J. Crew announced that it plans to close 39 stores by the end of January — double the number it previously said it planned to close. The closings amount to about 6% of its stores in malls and shopping centers. Like many companies J. Crew has been hit hard by competition from Internet shopping, and is in the process of changing over to more digital sales. It lost $161 million in the first nine months of this year. The Internet has had a huge effect on the way people shop or do business. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about different ways the Internet has affected businesses. Use what you read to write a business column detailing how one business is dealing with the Internet challenge.

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.