Yak’s Corner

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for Grades 5-8

Jan. 16, 2017
Jan. 09, 2017
Jan. 02, 2017
Dec. 12, 2016
Dec. 05, 2016
Nov. 28, 2016
Nov. 21, 2016
Nov. 14, 2016
Nov. 07, 2016
Oct. 31, 2016
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July 25, 2016
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May 09, 2016
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Apr 25, 2016
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Mar. 28, 2016

For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 16, 2017

1. Addiction Crisis

The U.S. drug addiction crisis is now “one of the most under-recognized and under-addressed public health issues of our time,” the U.S. surgeon general reports. In what he calls “the first-ever report on alcohol, drugs and health,” Dr. Vivek Murthy says 20.8 million Americans have substance use disorders, about the same number as those who have the disease diabetes and 1.5 times the number with all cancers combined. More significantly, only one in 10 of those with substance disorders are getting treatment, Dr. Murthy said. In the report, “Facing Addiction in America,” he declares that the low number of people getting treatment is “unacceptable,” and warns “we have to close that gap.” Because opioid painkillers are fueling new levels of addiction, Dr. Murthy advises doctors to treat pain with non-opioid medications and strategies “whenever possible.” Addiction to prescription opioid painkillers and street drugs like heroin are getting more and more attention because it is affecting more people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read about addiction problems and how they are affecting communities. Write a short editorial for the newspaper, outlining a strategy for addressing or reducing addiction to opioids, heroin or other drugs in communities.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. Lower Air Fares

United Airlines is planning a “basic economy” ticket that will offer travelers lower fares than the current standard economy ticket. But they’ll have more restrictions as well. “Basic” passengers will be permitted only one carry-on bag (with all other luggage to be checked), they will be assigned seats on the day of the flight and seated last, and families and couples could be separated. United, which serves 339 airports in five continents, will still provide other services to “basic” passengers, including food and beverages, entertainment and Wi-Fi. United and other major airlines are offering this “last class” option to compete with budget airlines. Lower air fares are one way airlines are looking to attract customers who want to save money. In the newspaper or online, find and read about other money-saving deals companies are offering to attract customers. Pick one and write a paragraph analyzing the benefits and drawbacks of the deal. Would you be interested in it? State why or why not.

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

3. Carbon Dioxide Surging

Levels of the gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have surged to a milestone level and may not dip below it again for “many generations,” the World Meteorological Organization has reported. The gas that is considered a key to global warming has passed the benchmark 400-parts-per-million level in the atmosphere. Drought conditions in tropical regions last year left less vegetation to absorb the gas known as CO2, the organization explained in its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. The last time CO2 was regularly above 400 ppm was 3 to 5 million years ago, experts estimate. Carbon dioxide is produced by burning fossil fuels such as oil, gasoline and coal and creates smog that traps heat in the atmosphere. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts by nations, businesses or communities to limit emissions of carbon dioxide. Use what you read to create a public service TV ad, calling attention to one solution you think should be tried. Write text for your ad detailing your reasons. Pick a celebrity to be the spokesperson in your ad and explain your choice.

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. Ivan the Terrible

Despite protests and court battles, a city in the European nation of Russia has unveiled Russia’s first monument to Ivan the Terrible, the bloody 16th century czar who massacred subjects by the thousands. Ivan, who reigned from 1547 to 1584, is shown on horseback, wielding a sword and a cross. At a ceremony in the city of Orel, the region’s governor compared Ivan to Russia’s current president, Vladimir Putin. He called Putin a “great, powerful president who has forced the world to respect and defer to Russia,” just as Ivan did. Russia and President Putin have in the news repeatedly this year because they are playing greater roles in world politics. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about actions by Russia and Putin. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper explaining one action taken and why it is important to Russia and the world.

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. Eat Whole Grains, Live Longer

Good news for whole grain fans: Two studies have linked eating whole grains to significantly reducing the risk of premature death. One study, reported in the BMJ journal formerly known as the British Medical Journal, connects eating whole grains to reduced risk for death from cancer, coronary disease, respiratory disease, infection and diabetes. The other study, reported in the journal Circulation, analyzed results from 14 previous studies and found lower death rates from all causes among those eating the most whole grains. Current dietary guidelines recommend eating 48 grams or more of whole grains each day (a slice of 100 percent whole grain bread contains about 16). Stories about the effects of healthy eating are often in the news because they affect so many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about eating a healthier diet. Use what you read to create a multi-media presentation for the class, highlighting key points from the story and explaining why they are important.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.