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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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Grades 1-4
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for Grades 9-12

Jan. 19, 2015
Jan. 12, 2015
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For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 19, 2015

1. Free Community College

President Obama has proposed a program to waive tuition for many community college students in an effort to address the nation’s growing income inequality between the wealthy and the poor. The proposal, he said, is to make community college “free for everybody … willing to work for it.” The plan would provide up to two years of community college free for students who attend school at least half time. It would be funded by the federal government and participating states, but it would be costly, the White House concedes. Still, “it’s something we can accomplish,” the President said, and it is needed to “train our work force so that we can compete with anybody in the world.” In the 21st century, more and more jobs will require education beyond high school, and community colleges are being counted on to provide that education. In the newspaper or online, find stories about careers that require training or education beyond high school. Pick one and do research to find out more about the training required. Then brainstorm an idea for a TV ad encouraging teens to get the training and pursue the career. Write a script for the ad and share with the class.

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; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.

2. Bono’s Guitar Days Over?

The rock star Bono may never play the guitar again. In a bike accident in November, the U-2 singer broke his shoulder in three places, shattered his left upper arm and broke a bone in his eye. His injuries required surgery and he recently reported that recovery “has been more difficult than I thought.” More significantly, he says, “It is not clear that I will ever play the guitar again.” What the Irish rocker calls a “freak accident” took place in New York’s Central Park, and doctors needed five hours, three metal plates and 18 screws to knit him back together. Injuries can affect the performance of people in many fields. In the business, entertainment or sports section of the newspaper, find a story about someone who has been injured. Read the story closely and write a paragraph detailing how the injury has affected the person’s ability to perform his/her job, and how long the effects will last.

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.

3. Birth Rate Declining

The United States birth rate continues to decline. The National Center for Health Statistics reports there were 3.93 million births in the U.S. in 2013, down slightly from 2012 and 9 percent below the high in 2007. This has happened, even though the number of women in the prime child-bearing years of 20 to 39 has been increasing. The statistics reflect the fact that more women have been delaying pregnancy, often past those prime years. As a result, births to older women are actually increasing. The birth rate is a very important statistic for planners in the United States. That’s because the number of people born each year today will affect how many schools, roads, homes and jobs will be needed in the future. In the newspaper or online, find a story about people planning for the future in a community. Read the story closely. Then use what you read and prior knowledge to write an essay explaining how the current birth rate could effect planning for the future with this and other projects.

4. Insulting Authority

In a country like ours, public figures are criticized — often quite harshly — without penalty, but in many other countries, particularly Muslim nations in the Middle East, such “insults” are illegal. In Turkey, for example, a teenage boy was arrested and could face four years in prison for “insulting” the country’s president in a speech at his high school. In Saudi Arabia, a blogger has been sentenced to public flogging for a website challenging that country’s religious establishment. And in Mauritania, a man has been sentenced to death for “insulting” Islam’s founder, the Prophet Muhammad, in an article he wrote. (He says his words were misinterpreted.) In the United States, freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In the newspaper, find and read three stories that involve freedom of speech in some way (remember that free speech involves other things besides speaking). Then use these cases to write a short editorial explaining what life would be like in the U.S. if people did not have freedom of speech.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; 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.

5. Holder Likes ‘House of Cards’

“House of Cards,” a Netflix series about a conniving Democratic politician’s ascent to power, is the closest to reality of all the TV programs about Washington, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. believes. He made the observation during a television interview about TV portrayals of national government and politics. Holder, who will retire as soon as his replacement is confirmed, admitted to binge-watching “Homeland,” but said he prefers “House of Cards” to all other shows, even though it features “a pretty bad vice president [and] I like Joe Biden. …” The third season of “House of Cards” will be released in February. Television shows often reflect real-world situations in politics, business or family life. Find a show you like in the TV listings of the newspaper. Then write a review of the show in the style of a TV critic. Be sure to include specific facts about the show and cast to support your opinions.

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.