Yak’s Corner
A print and online children’s news magazine published on 32 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 , week of May 08, 2011

1. Cartoon Opinions

Newspaper readers have loved the comics for years, and some have followed beloved characters for decades to get a good laugh. One man, Bill Blackbeard, collected 2.5 million original comic strips so they would be preserved. The first newspaper cartoon ever to appear in America was a political cartoon in the Pennsylvania Gazette. Published on May 9, 1754, it showed a divided snake that said "Join or die" in reference to the building conflict between the American colonies and Great Britain. Many times political cartoons and their punch lines are stories within themselves. Search the newspaper opinion pages for political cartoons. Read several cartoons and draw your own political cartoon about a news topic. Write a strong punch line to go with it to clearly show your opinion.

Learning Standard: Interpreting and evaluating the impact of ambiguities, subtleties, contradictions, ironies and incongruities in a text; using the craft of the illustrator to convey ideas artistically.

2. On the Move

On May 10, 1869, the tracks of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads met at Promontory Point in the state of Utah, marking the completion of the U.S. transcontinental railroad system. The transcontinental railroad connected and moved people between the eastern and western parts of the nation in a new and easier way. Read an article in this week's newspapers about a group of people who are moving from one place to another. Discuss why they are moving, how they got there, what reception they are getting and ways in which they affect their new community.

Learning Standards: Describing how and why people, goods and services, and information move within world regions and between regions; engaging peers in constructive conversations about topics of interest or importance.

3. bin Laden

It was 10 years of waiting. It was 10 years of searching. It was 10 years and many lives lost. But last week, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was found -- and killed -- in the Asian nation of Pakistan. President Obama announced his death, but also warned that the threat of terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies is not over. Obama claimed bin Laden's death as justice for the attacks on New York City's World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Find articles in the newspaper that address the continued threat of terrorism and the opinions of families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks. Or find examples online. Divide the class into two groups and debate the effect bin Laden's death will have on American security and if it provided justice for the families and the nation.

Learning Standards: Delivering persuasive arguments including evaluation and analysis of problems and solutions and causes and effects; engaging peers in constructive conversations about topics of interest or importance.

4 . Tough Luck for Teens

Economists project that teens seeking summer jobs won't have very good luck this year. They estimate that only one in four teens will be able to find work. With just 25 percent of teens able to get jobs, the nation will have the lowest teen employment rate in all the years since World War II, according to statistics from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. For African American teens in large urban areas, the numbers look even worse. Urban studies experts say African American teen employment this summer could be less than 10 percent of teens who want jobs. Search the ads and stories in the newspaper for potential summer jobs. Put together a resume listing your experience and interests that might help you find summer employment. Finish by writing a paragraph describing how you could benefit by volunteering, if you could not find work.

Learning Standards: Writing job applications and resumes modifying the tone to fit the purpose and audience; responding to a variety of visual, written, oral and electronic texts by making connections to students' personal lives and the lives of others.

5. Euro Power

Although it's only 23 years old, the euro is now the second most traded currency in the world after the U.S. dollar. It is the official currency of 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. France produced the first euros on May 11, 1998. Many people who travel abroad for business or pleasure, research the exchange rate between the euro and the dollar. Search the newspaper for currency exchange rates, or find the rates online. Figure out how many dollars you would have to have for 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 euros. Then write a paragraph describing a European country you would like to spend your euros in this summer.

Learning Standard: Solving equations and inequalities involving absolute values; using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to solv problems; responding to a variety of texts by making connections to students' personal lives.