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The Week in Vocab

Review the Biggest Buzzwords of the Week!

When you follow national and worldwide affairs, you get access to deep seated rivalries, the aftermath of disasters, celebrations of legacies, wild science, famous goodbyes and presidential speeches. Each week, we’ll highlight the top buzzwords or terms that your students might not have known or even heard until now. All these words are featured in the most recent edition of The Week in Rap. And once they beef up their vocab, the news will make a lot more sense.


rivalry (noun) — the act of rivaling: the state of being a rival

Why it matters: The lineup has been set for the 2012 Super Bowl. The Giants vs. the Patriots. The two teams will met on Sunday, February 5th. The intense rivalry between them is only heightened by the fact that they met just five years ago in 2008. The Giants defeated the Patriots 17-14.

tandem (noun) — a group of two or more acting in conjunction

Why it matters: The officials leading the recovery for the Costa Concordia have decided to run two operations in tandem — the search for the missing persons will continue, while simultaneously, oil will begin to be pumped out of the water to prevent any serious environmental disasters.

How do you measure the intensity of a tornado? Tornados are measured on the Fujita Tornado Intensity Scale, named for the man credited for inventing the scale, Tetsuya Theodore “Ted” Fujita. The scale is based on damage, and is therefore not perfect. There are 6 ratings from F0-F5, Gale to Incredible. There is also sometimes a sixth rating, F6 for “Inconceivable” tornados. No tornado has ever been given an F6 rating. Fujita’s original scale was updated in February of 2007. It is now called an Enhanced F Scale and takes into account quality of construction and modifies the wind speeds indicated by the F ratings.

Why it matters:On Monday, January 24, tornados struck hard in the South and the Midwest. Two have been reported dead so far. The storms have also left a myriad of other disastrous in their wake, including destruction of houses and other buildings, blocked roads, trapped residents, power outages, and subsequent tornado warnings in several other Southern states. The tornados are currently estimated to have been of EF 2 and EF 3 strength, though this measurement may be adjusted once the full damage is assessed.

legacy (noun) — something handed down from one generation to the next; A retiring company president might leave a legacy of honesty and integrity.

Why it matters: Joe Paterno, long time head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, recently passed away on Sunday, January 22nd. He left a legacy of dedication to Penn State, a high emphasis on ethics and moral conduct, and a philosophy of melding athletics and academics. In late 2011 he was named “the winningest coach in Division I history.”

solar flare — a solar flare is a sudden brightening over the Sun’s surface which is interpreted as a large burst of energy. Solar flares happen when electrons interact with the plasma medium.

Why it matters: On Sunday, January 22nd we experienced the biggest solar flare since 2005. The biggest effect from the solar flare we will see is radiation. The radiation may cause satellite disruptions and communication problems for polar-traveling airplanes.

SOTU (acronym) — You’ve seen this acronym written all over, in news articles, on the web and on people’s personal Facebook or Twitter accounts. You know it’s important, but you’re too embarrassed to admit to being the only one who doesn’t know (or pretends to know) what it stands for. We’re here to clear things up for you! SOTU stands for State Of The Union. It’s an annual address given by the President of the United States to Congress and the nation. Check out our blog for a brief history on the SOTU and give our lesson plan on the SOTU.

Why it matters: President Obama gave his third SOTU address this Tuesday the 24th. He spoke about creating jobs, developing a fairer taxation system and improving the American energy industry.

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