Yak’s Corner

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Sep. 11, 2011

1. Congress Yesterday and Today

American colonists living in 1774 were fed up with their British rulers making them pay high taxes and giving them no say in their government. So, on Sept. 5, 1774, they held the first session of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They elected Peyton Randolph as the first president of Congress. Shortly after that people in Massachusetts began forming militias to oppose the British rulers. On April 19, 1775, British troops marched to Concord, Massachusetts, and confronted the militiamen in the nearby town of Lexington. The first shots of the American Revolution were fired. More than a year later, the Second Continental Congress convened and adopted the Declaration of Independence. Search your newspaper for articles about the U.S. Congress today. Using the articles, talk about how the initial Continental Congress influenced Congress today.

Learning Standards: Knowing the significance of the first and second Continental Congresses and of the Committees of Correspondence; engaging peers in constructive conversations about topics of interest or importance.

2. Fall TV

Fall is the time when the TV networks present many new shows and hope viewers will be interested enough to watch them. Take a look at today's TV listings in the newspaper. Notice how shows are arranged on the schedule. Pick one network and analyze what audience or age group the shows would attract during the evening. Then use your imagination to make a schedule of your own on a network of your own for a night. Be sure to give your imaginary shows and network original names. Underneath your schedule, write a brief description of your shows and to whom they would appeal.

Learning Standards: Responding to visual and written texts; investigating practical situations such as scheduling, networking, organizing and classifying.

3. Never Forget

Baseball may be America's pastime, but the sport has also been something that helped the Williams family heal. They lost their son Kevin in the attacks of September 11 in 2001. He worked on the 104th floor of the Word Trade Center's south tower in New York City. Kevin worked in finance, was engaged to be married that year and loved to play sports - especially baseball. When his parents cleaned out his apartment, they found a plastic baggy with red crushed gravel in it. They didn't understand why he would keep a bag of dirt until their other son Jamie explained. It was red gravel from Yankee Stadium that Kevin had collected at the last Yankees game he and Jamie saw. That gravel inspired the family to start a foundation that renovated the baseball field where Kevin played and raises money to send economically disadvantaged young children to baseball camp. Search the newspaper for a story commemorating 9/11 and write a short essay about the emotions the story evoked in you.

Learning Standard: Connecting personal knowledge, experiences and understanding of the world to themes and perspectives in text through oral and written responses.

4. Bullies and Grades

People know that bullying hurts feelings. It leaves emotional scars. It beats down a person's self-esteem. But did you know it also can affect students' grades? According to researchers, teens who were bullied showed an average 0.049 drop in their GPAs. An article in Health Day said the effect of bullying was especially strong among high-achieving black and Hispanic students, because of racially motivated misconceptions about the academic abilities of minorities. Black students had a GPA decrease of 0.3 points, and Hispanic students saw a decrease of 0.5 points. On the other hand, Caucasian students only had a 0.03 drop. The study included 9,950 students from 580 schools. Search the newspaper for stories about bullying. Or find an example online. Read one story together as a class. Identify who is being bullied, who is doing the bullying and what you think could be done to stop that behavior.

Learning Standards: Explaining positive social behaviors, ways to respond when angry or upset and identifying qualities that contribute to a positive self-image; engaging peers in conversations about topics of importance

5. Fun Features

Sports feature stories profile a host of characters who have determination. Alan Moore is a great example. The 61-year-old man from Birmingham, Alabama, joined his university's football team as the kicker. He got his first chance to kick last week in a squad scrimmage. Moore is confident he can do the job. He once kicked for Holmes Community College in 1968. He started practicing again when he was laid off from his job in 2009 and went back to college. Find a sports feature in your newspaper. Using the article as an example, write your own feature about an athlete at your school.

Learning Standard: Exhibiting personal style and voice to enhance the written message in both narrative and informational writing.