Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.


Holiday tech gifts: See what's new, imaginative and affordable

Look for a mention of one or more gifts – digital or not – that you want.
Look for people or groups helping the less fortunate. Who benefits and how?
Find news of a local virtual event this holiday season – entertainment, an online tour or Zoom caroling.

Tech devices and accessories that you get or give this season can be practical as well as cool. Choices of digital gadgets and electronic diversions get more imaginative, portable and interactive each year. Check out new offerings that you many want to give or get in the categories of apps, games, consoles, audio gear and streaming devices.

Accessories for Xbox Series X from Microsoft and PlayStation 5 from Sony include a second controller, an extra-games subscription to PlayStation Plus or Xbox Game Pass, and an Xbox storage expansion card. For computer gaming, fancy keyboards with LED backlighting and varied lighting modes are $60 to $130. Some offer millions of color options. Alternately, Logitech has the the G502 Hero gaming mouse ($40) with 11 customizable buttons that can be set to remember your specific setup for each game. Five removable weights let users adjust it for the right amount of resistance, and there's also programmable lighting.

Among other handy products are AirPods cases in snazzy colors, iPhone12 cases in slick designs and Bitty Boomer wireless Bluetooth speakers in Fortnite and Mandalorian themes ($18). Speaking of familiar characters, amusing video game controller recharging stands now come as arms-out Boba Fett from Star Wars, or Ironman, or Spiderman. And if your PC or Mac isn’t powerful enough for advanced games, a $10 monthly streaming service called Google Stadia is an option. It handles the power requirements of games on its own servers and includes titles such as Destiny 2, GRID and Thumper. Games can be played on compatible laptops, desktops, phones and tablets.

Here are more ideas:
  • A small Porta 3-in-1 Charger ($50) lets you wirelessly power up your AirPods, Apple Watch and – via a USB output port – an Android or iOS phone.
  • A less-costly phone charger is the Aukey Omnia Mini ($15) for iPhone or Android users. It's about the size of a standard iPhone charger and way more powerful.
  • Another pocket-size helpmate is a Tile Pro Bluetooth "finder" device ($30) with a hole that lets it be clipped to a keyring, purse, wallet zipper or other item.
  • If you misplace something with a Tile attached, just log into the app and the Tile will play a catchy jingle until you find it.
  • And for personalized fun, a company called Casetify has a tool to turn your photos into a custom iPhone12 case. There are three case styles and dozens of templates for $45-$55.
  • Lastly, a handheld electronic synthesizer called the Otamatone lets players create music in a fun and quirky way. Pressing the middle part and sliding your fingers up and down produces higher and lower tones while opening and closing its mouth creates a "wah" sound. It can connect to speakers, amps, and headphones.

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for, Copyright 2021

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