Yak’s Corner
A print and online children’s news magazine published once each month from September through May for Michigan kids ages 6-13. Each 12-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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Michigan K.I.D.S. is the Detroit Newspapers in Education (DNIE) non-profit for the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News that provides digital e-Editions of the Free Press and The News, related online and print teaching resources, and other services to schools across Michigan.

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Lessons for

Grades 1-4
Grades 5-8

Past lessons
for Grades 9-12

July 27, 2015
July 20, 2015
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June 29, 2015
June 22, 2015
June 15, 2015
June 08, 2015
June 01, 2015
May 25, 2015
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Oct. 27, 2014
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Oct. 13, 2014
Oct. 06, 2014

For Grades 9-12 , week of July 27, 2015

1. Polar Bear Survival

The polar bear’s survival is at great risk, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service warns, and it depends on “decisive action to address Arctic warming.” The agency is developing a recovery plan for the animals, but it requires rolling back human activity that contributes to climate change. Warmer temperatures attributed to global warming and human activity have caused sea ice in the Arctic to melt, significantly reducing the area on which polar bears live. “Short of action that effectively addresses the primary cause of diminishing sea ice, it is unlikely that polar bears will be recovered,” the report states. In addition to loss of habitat, the animals’ food supply is being seriously limited by the changing climate in the Arctic. Global warming and climate change are affecting wildlife all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wildlife species affected by global warming. Use what you read to write a poem, rap or rhyme addressing the challenges faced by this species.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

2. Raise Age, Reduce Smoking

Teenage smoking could be reduced substantially by raising the tobacco sales age to 21, according to a new study. Researchers report in in the magazine Tobacco Control that teenage smoking in Needham, Massachusetts, declined dramatically after the town raised the purchase age, while it hardly changed in surrounding communities that kept the age limits at 18. The findings, according to the lead author, “provide strong support for initiatives … to increase the sales age as a means for decreasing youth access to cigarettes, initiation of smoking, and ultimately addiction.” Many approaches have been tried to reduce smoking among teenagers and young adults. Read about some of them in the newspaper or online. Then use what you read to create an innovative TV ad that would get teens’ attention and discourage them from smoking. Write an outline of your ad, including images you would use. What would be your first scene?

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; 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.

3. Cell Phone Looks Like a Gun

A cell phone that looks like a gun is a “disaster waiting to happen,” U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has warned — and he’s urging retailers not to sell it. As a result, it’s no longer listed for sale by Amazon, among other sales outlets. Law enforcement officials are concerned about the foreign-manufactured product, which can be displayed in a pocket to look as though it is a real weapon. Use the newspaper and Internet to read about reaction to the cell phone that looks like a gun. Then draw an editorial cartoon or cartoons, showing the problems that could arise because of 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.

4. 50,700 Computer Hacks

A 17-year-old from the European nation of Finland has been found guilty of 50,700 “instances of aggravated computer break-ins” — hacking attacks affecting Harvard and MIT universities among others. The attacks involved hijacked emails, blocked traffic to websites and theft of credit card details. Julius “Zeekill” Kivimaki carried out most of the crimes when he was only 15 and 16 years old, and for that reason he has not been jailed. Instead, he’s been given a two-year suspended prison sentence, and ordered to hand over property obtained through his crimes. Some computer experts and law enforcement officials have objected to the leniency of the sentence. When teens or pre-teens are convicted of crimes, they often are given more lenient sentences than adults who commit the same crimes. Supporters of this approach say it gives teens the opportunity to grow up and start over. Opponents say it lets teens or younger juveniles get away with criminal behavior. With the newspaper and Internet read about sentencing practices for teens or juveniles. Use what you read to write an editorial offering your view on whether Julius Kivimaki received an appropriate sentence.

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.

5. Starbucks Raising Prices

Starbucks is raising prices again, just about a year after its last price increase. For most drinks at the popular coffee chain, the increases will range from five to 20 cents. A brewed Starbucks coffee will go up by 10 cents in most areas, bringing the price of a large coffee to about $2.45. While Starbucks is raising prices, other coffee sellers are cutting theirs, citing declines in the cost of unroasted coffee beans. When consumers have many choices among stores and restaurants, it sometimes pays to compare prices. With the newspaper or Internet, find and study ads for products or foods sold by a variety of outlets. Record the prices for one or more comparable items. What is the range in price? What is the average price? What is the median price? Represent your findings in a graph or chart. Write a complete sentence explaining which product you would buy based on price. Write another sentence detailing other factors you would consider when buying.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; representing and solving problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.