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

Sep. 29, 2014
Sep. 22, 2014
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For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 29, 2014

1. 24 Hours Without Cell Phone

About 65 teenagers left their cell phones and electronics at home when they took part in the world’s first kNOw Tech-A-Thon in Philadelphia, PA. The goal of the sleep-over event at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center was to go 24 hours technology-free, according to kNOw Tech 4 Teens, a nonprofit group advocating balanced, people-centered use of technology. Designed to show how much fun is possible without hand-held gadgets, the sleepover included a talent contest, dinner at a nearby restaurant and a concert presented by participants who belong to a youth choir. It was also a fund-raiser for the Tyler Clementi Foundation, named for a college freshman who committed suicide after learning that a roommate had violated his privacy with technology. Electronics have transformed the way people communicate, plan and entertain themselves and their friends. As a class, discuss all the ways you use cell phones, smartphones and other hand-held devices. Then think like a newspaper columnist and write a column detailing what you think it would be like to give up electronics for a day. Even better, GIVE UP your electronics for a day and write what it actually was like.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; demonstrating understanding of figurative language; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

2. AmeriCorps Is 20

It’s been 20 years since President Bill Clinton signed the bill establishing the AmeriCorps service program, and he celebrated recently by joining President Obama on the South Lawn of the White House to welcome members of the newest class of volunteers. “I would not be standing here if it were not for service to others and the purpose that service gave my own life,” Obama said at the 20th anniversary ceremony. AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year at schools, public agencies and community groups across the country. Participants receive a stipend and funds that can be used toward education. At anniversary ceremonies, volunteers raised their right hands and pledged to “get things done for America.” Service programs like AmeriCorps seek to get young people involved in efforts to improve communities. In the newspaper or online, find a story about a situation that could benefit from volunteer or service help. Read the story closely and write a letter to the editor of the newspaper detailing what needs to be done and how volunteers could help. Discuss ideas as a class.

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

3. For Gun Permit, You’ll Need a Reason

In the District of Columbia, a person who wants to get a license to carry a concealed handgun now has to show a reason for needing one. Several states have similar requirements, and the U.S. Supreme Court last year declined to hear a challenge to Maryland’s law. The new law in the District of Columbia was developed after a federal judge struck down a D.C. statute that had banned carrying handguns outside the home. That ruling was delayed to give the city time to rewrite its gun laws, and the new requirement resulted. Opponents of the original gun law say they will appeal the new one as well. The debate over gun laws and gun control is one of the most heated in the nation. As a class, discuss whether cities or state governments should ban some types of weapons, or set restrictions for their use. Then write a short editorial for the newspaper offering your opinion on whether there should be controls on gun ownership, and what type.

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.

4. Part of Her Brain Is Missing

Except for occasional dizziness and an unsteady walk, a woman in China had been living a normal life for 24 years. But when she went to doctors to report a month-long bout with nausea, they scanned her brain and found she has no cerebellum. That part of the brain is crucial for a variety of movements, but the scans showed that in this woman cerebrospinal fluid filled a large hole where the cerebellum should have been, doctors have reported in the journal Brain. Damage to this brain area usually causes debilitating motor difficulties, yet the absence of her cerebellum resulted in only mild to moderate motor problems and slightly slurred pronunciation of words. Odd or unusual situations and events often are reported by newspapers and other news outlets, because they fascinate readers. They also can inspire artists. In the newspaper or online, find an odd news item. Read it and create an artwork based on it. Your work can be a drawing or painting or another art form. You also could create a plot outline for a movie, short story or TV show.

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

5. Sugar Substitutes Questioned

Diabetes is a major health concern in the United States, and many people think that the way to reduce the risk is to replace sugars with artificial sweeteners. But according to a new study, artificial sweeteners not only don’t hold off diabetes, they may even contribute to it. Researchers report the artificial sweeteners may disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, causing metabolic changes that lead to what one immunologist describes as “the very same condition that we often aim to prevent.” By altering the bacteria in the digestive system, the sweeteners create a different mix of microbes that cause glucose levels to rise higher after eating and to decline more slowly, the scientists report in the journal Nature. Diabetes is just one health issue that often is in the news. In the newspaper or online, find another health issue that is important to families or teens. Read the story closely and write a paragraph summarizing whom the issue affects most, and what effects that could have.

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.