Yak’s Corner
A print and online children’s news magazine published on 30 Thursdays from September through May for Michigan kids ages 6-13. Each eight-page issue is filled with educational and entertaining stories about places, people and events in Michigan and around the world. The Yak’s Corner online page also includes “Yaktivities” for each issue, a Yak Art Gallery, student writing and more.
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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 22, 2014

1. $350 Million Gift to H

A Hong Kong foundation is contributing $350 million to Harvard University’s School of Public Health, the largest gift in Harvard’s history. Gerald Chan, one of two brothers heading the Morningside Foundation in Asia, earned a master’s degree in medical radiology and a doctorate in radiation biology at the school in the 1970s, and is an active alumnus. The Public Health school will be renamed for their father, T.H. Chan, who founded the Hang Lung Group, a developer of real estate in Hong Kong. Gerald Chan is a director of Hang Lung, and his brother, Ronnie, is chairman. A donation of $350 million could have tremendous impact on a school — or a whole school district. Imagine that a school district in your city or state has been given $350 million. Do some research on problems the district faces or programs it would like to start. Then write a short editorial for the newspaper, detailing how the money would best be spent. Title your editorial “If We Had $350 Million.” Discuss ideas as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. No Tweeting While Walking

In Chongqing, China, some sidewalks are being divided into two lanes, one that prohibits cell phone use and one that allows their use at your “own risk.” Authorities admit people are not taking the new lanes seriously, and many are snapping photos of the signs and sidewalks in the Asian nation. The move was prompted, an official said, by the danger of “walking with your cellphone … caus[ing] unnecessary collisions.” It’s a reminder, the city notes, not to tweet while walking the street. More and more people are using cell phones to text, tweet and send emails. That has raised safety concerns, especially when people tweet while walking or driving. As a class, discuss situations people should avoid when using cell phones. Then draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper, showing consequences of cell phone use in inappropriate situations.

3. CVS vs. Smoking

CVS Health is the first national pharmacy chain to end the sale of tobacco products, giving up an estimated $2 billion in annual revenue. The termination of sales has occurred almost a month ahead of schedule. Earlier, CVS (which changed its name from CVS Caremark to CVS Health) had said it would stop tobacco sales and launch a nationwide smoking-cessation program. Thus far, none of its pharmacy rivals has followed suit. When a business refuses to sell a product, it makes news. But is it fair to consumers, who may want to buy the product? In the newspaper and online find and closely read stories about the CVS decision on tobacco sales. Write a paragraph summarizing reaction to the move.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Million-Dollar Parking Spots

Income inequality is discussed a lot in the United States, and an extreme example has surfaced in New York City. A new development in Manhattan’s SoHo district is offering 10 tenants underground parking spots at $1 million each — a cost that is higher per square foot than the apartments being sold upstairs. 42 Crosby Street, a luxury residence for wealthy people, is being developed by Atlas Capital Group on the site (ironically) of a former parking lot. Each 200-square-foot parking spot costs $5,000 to $6,666 a square foot; the nine three-bedroom units upstairs will cost up to $3,170 a square foot. Prices for both are far higher than middle- or low-income people could afford for their homes. What are home prices like in your community or state? With the newspaper or Internet, find ads showing the range of prices of homes for sales or apartments for rent. Create separate graphs or charts to show the range of prices for each.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.

5. ‘Walking Dead’ Deactivated

One of the nation’s most celebrated fighting units has been deactivated. The First Battalion, Ninth Marine Regiment — nicknamed “The Walking Dead” because of its high rate of casualties in the Vietnam War — was deactivated in a ceremony at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, concluding a history of heroism dating back to World War I. Serving most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, the battalion has had members who received the Medal of Honor at Guam and Iwo Jima in World War II and in Vietnam. The deactivation is part of Pentagon plans to reduce the size of the U.S. Marine Corps, and the battalion’s remaining 300 members have been reassigned to other units. The U.S. military makes news in many ways, and not just in connection with conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East. In the newspaper, find a news story about military activities, military planning or military personnel. Write a summary of the story, explaining whom the story will affect most.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.