Flower

Random Acts of Kindness

Any amount of time spent watching, reading or listening to the news can make you really appreciate the value of random acts of kindness. Whether the gesture is big or small, random acts of kindness offer lots of benefits to both those who give and those who receive. There’s happiness to be found in sharing a book, creating and hiding painted rocks or volunteering to watch the class pet. It doesn’t matter what the act of kindness is, just as long as it comes from the heart.

Editors Jaclyn Rosansky and Kim Carpenter collaborate on their experiences with acts of kindness. Jaclyn discusses finding painted rocks and Kim recounts her time visiting family in Kentucky and her niece’s time with a class pet.

Hidden Gems

The concept of painting and hiding rocks for others to find is a great and creative way to bring a smile to someone’s day. I became curious about this activity after venturing to Mullins Park (Coral Springs, FL). Painted rocks kept popping up left and right. On the back of each rock was a request to share it with a rock painting group on Facebook. Upon checking the online group, photo after photo of painted rock each with its own personality and flair appeared. At the top of the page was a message for the group to find some rocks, paint them and hide them and then share photos or leave hints of where to find them.

Painted rocks found at Primrose Park in Wellington, FL (on left) and Mullins Park in Coral Springs, FL (on right). (Photos by Jen Oms and Jaclyn Rosansky)

And so, my own rock painting began. I began painting rocks in my spare time and sharing information with family members. It was agreed that painting rocks could be therapeutic. Some of my coworkers also joined in and we inspired each other with our designs and vibrant color choices. For some of us, painting rocks has been inspired by the holiday season. Trees, benches, and boulders became favorite hiding spots for the rocks. Hearing a burst of excitement when someone finds your creation is the best part just because it made that person’s day a little bit brighter.

Rock painting precedes social media. One woman who was hiding her creations at Mullins Park said she had been painting and hiding rocks since the 1970s. But the movement has really gained momentum over time. There are numerous online groups dedicated to sharing rocks that have been painted, hidden and found to make getting involved easier than ever.

Visit The Kindness Rocks Project to view painted rocks within the online community for inspiration and share your own painted rocks.

–Jaclyn Rosansky

Little Free Library

Each year I visit my family in Kentucky. During my trip last year, I enjoyed a day at Smother’s Park in downtown Owensboro. It’s a large park with a playground overlooking the Ohio River. I noticed a swarm of people around a small wooden box full of books. It was a Little Free Library. Parents were selecting books and the children were sitting around it in a circle reading to each other. I thought it was such a wonderful idea so I Googled it and found them all over the country. I’ve even noticed painted rocks hiding inside the library boxes in my community.

Holiday Park little library in Fort Lauderdale, FL (on left) and Owensboro, Kentucky little library (on right) (Photos by Jaclyn Rosansky and Kim Carpenter)

It’s important to incorporate random acts of kindness in your own community. Exchanging books with your neighbors is a great way to start. With the Little Free Libraries, you can share your appreciation for reading and promote literacy in your own neighborhood. They can be placed anywhere.

Explore Little Free Library for more information and building instructions. Check out the map to see if you have one nearby, or build and register your very own for your community.

Class Pet

A classroom pet is another great way to share kindness. Having students take home the class pet during the weekend is also a great way to teach respect and responsibility. Hermit crabs, hamsters or bearded dragons are all great choices.

A perfect example is a preschool my 5-year-old niece Addison attends. She brought home her classroom hermit crabs named Butterfly and Star and she even explained to me how to care for them.

Addison Cohen with hermit crabs Butterfly and Star (Photo by Kim Carpenter)

Check out Pets in the Classroom for a list of benefits, download lesson plans for incorporating pets into your classroom and you can even apply for their grant program.

–Kim Carpenter

Whether in your community or classroom, kindness is contagious, so remember to pass it on!

The New Kennedy Assassination Files

Kennedy Assassination ProQuest Research Topic

Kennedy Assassination ProQuest Research Topic

Tomorrow, November 22nd, marks the 54th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Late last month, scholars, amateur historians, and never-satisfied conspiracy junkies were poring over newly released files by the National Archives related to the assassination. The files have been released in accordance with the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act passed in 1992, which requires all materials related to the assassination be released within 25 years. However, to the chagrin of the conspiracy-minded hordes, several hundreds of files were blocked by President Trump at the behest of the CIA and FBI, who deemed some details within the withheld files would hurt U.S. national security or harm informants who are still alive today.

Educators can take this opportunity to teach students how to sift out fact from fiction with respect to this important moment in U.S. history with eLibrary’s significant content on Kennedy’s assassination and related topics.

Here is a sampling of the more interesting bits of information from eLibrary’s collection of newspaper articles reporting on the files released by the National Archives. Some information will perk the interest of conspiracy theorists:

Ruby Murders Oswald (Credit: Ira Jefferson "Jack" Beers Jr. (1910-2009) for The Dallas Morning News. Public Domain)

Ruby Murders Oswald (Credit: Ira Jefferson “Jack” Beers Jr. (1910-2009) for The Dallas Morning News. Public Domain)

  • The FBI warned Dallas Police that Lee Harvey Oswald’s life was in danger after he was taken into custody for Kennedy’s assassination.
  • Cambridge News, and a small daily British newspaper, received an anonymous tip of the assassination 25 minutes before the president was shot.
  • Russian-born Texas oilman, George de Mohrenschildt, met Lee Harvey Oswald at a social function in January 1963. de Mohrenschildt was George H.W. Bush’s prep school roommate’s uncle and was also a friend of first lady Jackie Kennedy’s parents.
  • Oswald visited the Soviet embassy in Mexico City just weeks before the assassination.
  • The CIA knew Oswald was in Dallas days before Kennedy was assassinated.
  • Soviet defector Lieutenant Colonel Yuri Nosenko, who had been spying on Oswald while living in the Soviet Union, said the KGB did not try to recruit Oswald because they thought him to be unstable.
  • The Soviet Union feared that they would be blamed for Kennedy’s assassination and had suspicions that Vice President Lyndon Johnson was responsible.

Teachers can explore further into eLibrary’s store of information beginning with its Research Topics on the Kennedy Assassination, John F. Kennedy, and Lee Harvey Oswald. Researchers can also dig deeper with searches using eLibrary’s homepage and advanced search pages.

Check out these other Research Topics to further your students’ in-depth study of this issue:

 

Evaluating Resources
Writing a Research Paper

American Presidency
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Lyndon B. Johnson
ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Cold War
Robert F. Kennedy
Soviet Union

America Recycles Day Teacher Resources

Today marks the 20th anniversary of America Recycles Day, the only nationally recognized day dedicated to the promotion of recycling in America. America Recycles Day is an initiative of Keep America Beautiful, and this year, the initiative is encouraging people to take the #BeRecycled pledge to commit to recycling.

Each year on America Recycles Day, I like to take stock of my efforts to reuse, reduce and recycle. My latest effort is to create a compost bin for my garden. This day also reminds me of one of my favorite activities to do when I’m visiting my family in New Hampshire.

Transfer Center, Moultonborough, NH

Transfer Center in Moultonborough, NH. Clockwise from top left: free books, art and dishes; bookshelves with free paperbacks; interior of transfer center with recycling bins for cartridges, old American flags and more; free furniture; exterior view of one of the buildings; and box of free china. (Credit: Amy Shaw)

I love Lake Winnipesaukee, Mount Washington and just about everything else the Granite State offers, but my very favorite place to visit in New Hampshire is one its transfer stations, where I help my mom bring her recyclables. Set in the countryside and surrounded by mountains, is Moultonborough’s Transfer Center, where not only can you drop off your recyclables and waste, but you can also pick up some free books and other items while you are there. (Some of the china and the picture of the girl in the pink dress in the collage below above adorn the rooms of my place in Florida!)

In honor of America Recycles Day, check out three ProQuest Guided Research products that contain K-12 resources on recycling and related issues. I’ve also included handpicked links to lesson plans and classroom activities.

Three ProQuest Products with Recycling Resources:

Science Fair Explorer

SIRS Discoverer has an interactive Science Fair Explorer feature with a recycling bin, which contains lab activities and more.

Are your students working on a class project or writing a paper about recycling? Encourage them to delve into the following three ProQuest products for editorially-selected information:

  1. SIRS Discoverer–a multidisciplinary database geared towards elementary and middle school learners–includes an interactive Science Fair Explorer tool to help students discover science fair topics. Click on the Recycling Bin in the Science Fair Explorer tool to access activities and experiments related to recycling and related environmental issues.
  2. eLibrary–one of the largest, user-friendly general reference tools for K-12 schools and libraries–offers many editorially-created Research Topic pages on environmental issues, including these two which are perfect for America Recycles Day: Recycling and Waste Management. These pages include links to resources that editors handpicked from eLibrary’s more than 2,500 full-text magazines, newspapers, reference books, and transcripts—plus more than 7 million pictures, maps, weblinks, and audio/video clips!
  3. SIRS Issues Researcher–an award-winning resource for pro/con issues (2015 CODiE Finalist, 2014 Library Journal Best Databases)–contains a Recycling leading issue. Students can access links to supporting viewpoints for the following Essential Question: Should recycling programs be mandatory? The Recycling Leading Issue also contains an overview, timeline, critical thinking questions, and a variety of full-text articles and multimedia.

Six Recycling Lesson Plans for Educators:

Introduce your students to the concepts of reducing, reusing and recycling with these fun activities:

  1. Do-It-Yourself Podcast: Recycling (Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
  2. Guest Lesson: Recycling as a Focus for Project-Based Learning (Source: The New York Times Company)
  3. Lesson Plan: Create Sculptures with Recycled Materials (Source: Scholastic Inc.)
  4. Lesson Plan: Recycling Scavenger Hunt (Source: Peace Corps)
  5. Lesson Plans: Recycling: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse (Source: Public Broadcasting Service)
  6. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Resources for Students and Educators (Source: Environmental Protection Agency)

Fun Fact

According to the EPA’s most recent data, there has been a steady growth in recycling and reuse activities, which has led to the creation of 757,000 jobs and generated $36 billion in wages in a single year!

Share with Us!

Do you have thoughts about or experiences with teaching about recycling? We’d love to hear them! Tweet us #ProQuest.

Learn more about ProQuest products for schools at http://www.proquest.com/libraries/schools/

The Leonid Meteor Shower, 2017

Have you ever seen a shooting star? If not, it is a pretty cool thing to see, and you might have your chance this week. The annual Leonid meteor shower is getting underway, providing skywatchers a week or more of increased meteor activity. Luckily, the peak of this year’s shower will be on a Friday night (November 17) into Saturday morning, so you can catch up on your sleep the next day. If you want the best chance to see something, you’ll have to stay up very late; the show will not really get going until after midnight. And, since the frequency of sightings increases through the early morning hours and peak before sunrise, it might be a better idea to go to bed early and get up before dawn. Conditions for the this year’s Leonids should be good (unless your local weather is bad) because the moon will not be very bright, unlike 2016, when a gibbous moon ruined the viewing.

meteor showers RT

Meteor Showers RT via ProQuest eLibrary

The showers happen because Earth travels near trails left by Tempel-Tuttle, a comet that orbits the sun every 33 years. Bits of the comet are pulled by Earth’s gravity into the atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour, and the resulting friction causes them to burn as they fall. When our planet travels directly through one of these trails, we get what is known as a meteor storm or meteor outburst. Such storms usually occur in the years following Tempel-Tuttle’s pass, but they can occur in years in between. But, this is not one of those years, and the number of shooting stars is expected to be low. (Too bad it is not 1833 or 1996, years when the Leonid storms were especially spectacular, with thousands of meteors per hour.)

If you have never seen a meteor, it is well worth your time and lack of sleep to get out and take a look. You could even get lucky enough to see a fireball, which is a larger chunk that leaves a colorful streak that can persist for a second or two.

So, where should you look? Meteor showers are named after the place in the sky from which they appear to radiate, in this case, the constellation Leo. In reality, they can appear across the sky and go in many directions. So, the best strategy is just to lie back and take in as much of the sky as possible. Of course, to increase your odds, try to watch from a spot as far away from the glow of the city and other light sources as you can.

eLibrary can help science teachers and students instruct and learn more about the stuff in the sky. Check out the links in the text above, see the Research Topics pages below or do your own searches. RTs can provide lots of articles and other resources, from the basics to more advanced content, to expand your understanding of the cosmos.

As they say in astronomy circles, clear skies to you!

Astronomy

Astrophysics

Constellations and Star Systems

Galaxies

Meteor Showers

Near-Earth Objects

Solar System

Stars

Telescope

Cultures Meet in Canada

The first Syrian refugee family to land in Toronto (9 Dec 2015). Photo by Domnic Santiago, via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The U.S. government recently decided to end temporary protected status of 2,500 Nicaraguans living in the United States and is deciding whether it will do the same for tens of thousands of refugees from Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras. As a result, Canada is receiving a new wave of immigrants from those communities and expects these numbers to grow.

In contrast to its southern neighbor, Canada’s government is planning to increase its already generous immigrant acceptance policies and the majority of Canadians are on board. One went so far as to sponsor 50 Syrian refugee families, and others have participated in family-to-family sponsoring programs.  Such programs have largely been successful, but the struggles they do face often point to the importance of cultural education and understanding. And the more diverse Canadian society becomes, the larger the need becomes for refugees and Canadian citizens alike to learn about the other.

CultureGrams can provide a starting place for groups encountering each other for the first time, including a framework for exploring questions such as the following:

  • What ethnic groups are present in a country?
  • What languages do people speak?
  • What are the most prominent religions? And how might someone’s religious belief affect their daily behavior?
  • What common attitudes and values are shared by people in the country?
  • What do people in the country commonly wear?
  • How do people greet each other?
  • What gestures are potentially offensive?
  • What foods are typically eaten in the country? What customs are there that accompany eating?
  • What games and sports are popular?
  • What family structures and gender roles are common?

Explore these questions in relation to countries like HaitiSyria, and Canada today, in addition to delving into the history, culture, and society of specific Canadian provinces.

Let’s Debate…Libraries vs. the Internet

Libraries have long been considered the premier houses of information; librarians, the keepers, and distributors of knowledge. The advent of technology–and with it, the Internet–has slightly shifted this perspective, particularly over the last two decades. Students and researchers now have a choice: “Do I research in the library? Or on the Internet?”

Both hold value, thus the debate. And the decision may not be an either/or answer.

What are your feelings about this topic? Is one more worthwhile than the other? Can one be replaced with the other? To explore the pros and cons, check out the Let’s Debate infographic below.

Libraries v. the Internet infographic

 

Daylight Saving Time

Photo of watch via Flickr (Public Domain)

Have you ever wondered why you have to change the clocks one hour ahead in the spring and one hour back in the fall? Daylight Saving Time is a popular practice in many countries. Each spring, we begin Daylight Saving Time by moving the clocks ahead one hour. In the fall, we move the clock back one hour to return to Standard Time. Many countries practice Daylight Saving Time as a way to conserve energy. Because the length of the day is longer, less electricity is used.

Here are some fun facts about Daylight Saving Time:

  • More than 70 countries use Daylight Saving Time in at least part of their country.
  • Beginning in 2007, Daylight Saving Time was extended. It starts each year in March and ends in November.
  • In the U.S., Hawaii and some parts of Arizona do not use Daylight Saving Time.
  • Daylight Saving Time was first used in the U.S. in 1918. It was used in parts of Canada beginning in 1908.
  • A popular expression to remember how to move your clock is “Spring forward, fall back.”

Find student resources about Daylight Saving Time in SIRS Discoverer. Also, here are some helpful websites:

Daylight Saving Time

The Origins of Daylight Saving Time

History of Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time

Augustine and the First “Modern” Autobiography

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine of Hippo Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Mihi quaestio factus sum. This is a Latin phrase which means, roughly translated, “I have become a problem to myself.” This was written by Aurelius Augustinus, aka St. Augustine of Hippo. Historians know a lot about Augustine, like when he was born (November 13, 354); when he died (August 28, 430); and just about everything else in-between. The reason we know so much about him is due to his autobiography, The Confessions, written sometime between 397 and 400 AD. While not the first autobiography ever written, it is considered to be the first modern Western autobiography. For 1,600 years, this book has influenced how Christians (and many non-Christians) have penned their life stories.

Hundreds of medieval manuscripts of Augustine’s Confessions survive, the earliest dating from the late sixth century. There are nine surviving manuscripts dating from the ninth and tenth centuries. The first printed edition was made in Strasbourg, France, around 1470, and the book has never gone out of print since then.

Latin Research Topic

Latin Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Roman Catholicism Research Topic

Roman Catholicism Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

 

 

 

 

 

 

The work, originally titled Confessions in Thirteen Books, is more of a spiritual autobiography than a straightforward telling of a life story, although there is plenty of that in the book as well. Born of a Christian mother (Monica) and a Pagan father (Patricius), Augustine was very early on a deep thinker. He was sent away to the University of Carthage at the age of 16. Augustine doesn’t shy away from dishing the dirt on himself during his early life. He became a teacher of rhetoric and moved to Rome with his mistress and his son. His religion at the time was Manichaeism, a combination of elements of Christianity and Zoroastrian themes. It was in Milan that his life began to change when he came under the influence of Ambrose, the city’s bishop. Augustine was baptized, ordained a priest and in 396 was himself made a bishop in Hippo (Annaba, Algeria).

African Literature

African Literature Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Algeria Research Topic

Algeria Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Confessions is both an autobiography and a theological work. It presents a detailed account of his philosophical and religious development and is the most complete record of any single individual from the fourth and fifth centuries. According to Oxford and Cambridge professor Henry Chadwick, Confessions will “always rank among the great masterpieces of Western literature.”

Augustine also found time to write The City of God, one of the most influential religious/philosophical books ever written. This was penned sometime later than 410 AD, after Rome fell to the barbarians. Augustine died in Hippo as the Vandals were besieging the city.

Literature teachers and librarians can help students learn more about Augustine of Hippo and his works by pointing them toward the many resources in eLibrary, such as our list of religious and theological publications.

Don’t have eLibrary at your school or library? Request a free trial.

CultureGrams: Faces of the World Interviews

Gabon Interview via ProQuest CultureGrams

Our Faces of the World Interviews are one of the most popular features in CultureGrams. Users enjoy learning about how ordinary individuals–both adults and children–within a particular country see the world, what they do each day, what they worry about, what matters to them, etc. The interviews provide an intimate glimpse into what daily life is like for these people. Occasionally, however, users have questions about some of the content in the interviews. So we would like to clarify our editorial policy as it relates to the Faces of the World Interviews.

  1. The interviews represent the views of native inhabitants of various countries around the world. They are a reflection of how those individuals see their lives and the countries and cultures they live in. We don’t edit the interviews for content unless there is something that is incomprehensible or unless they say something that would be inappropriate for our users. As much as possible, we try to preserve the original voice and thoughts of the interviewees, only editing for clarity’s sake, as needed.
  2. Although our collection of interviews is growing, the total number is still relatively small (400+), so we make no claims that the small number of interviews we offer per country are necessarily representative of majority views within a particular country. These people speak for themselves. We expect that there will be greater variety as we add more interviews, but there is no way that a small number of interviews can adequately represent the whole or capture the diversity of opinion and experience within an entire country.
  3. In a few rare instances, users have suggested that some of the opinions represented in the interviews are overly negative. However,  as noted above, the goal of these interviews is to have real people tell us what their daily lives are like and what matters to them. It is their opinions that count when it comes to the interviews, not ours. Also, our goal with CultureGrams more broadly isn’t about promoting any particular country.  Instead, we aim to capture some of the diversity of human experience and to do so honestly. And we attempt to present this information as fairly and objectively as we can.

How to Support Inclusion When Teaching Controversial Political Issues

This is the latest in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students. The previous post in this series examined U.S. teens, politics, and information literacy.


Today’s top political issues are controversial for a reason: they affect our lives. Students are no exception, which is why classroom discussions about controversial political issues risk offending or alienating students, especially those who are marginalized by society. Shielding students from discomfort is tempting, but avoidance goes against the aims of learning about controversial political issues, one of which is political literacy.

But maintaining a safe, welcoming, and accepting learning environment for every student is essential. Fortunately, there are ways to ease some of the negative aspects of teaching controversial political issues. The following strategies, which have been adapted from Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy’s The Political Classroom, will help you support inclusion in the classroom.

Know your students. At the beginning of the semester, get to know your students’ views, political ideology, and personal circumstances by conducting an anonymous survey.

Choose wisely. Based on the survey results, pick political issues that are relevant, ethical, and most likely to facilitate learning.

Time it right. Schedule the least controversial issues first, and then build up to more controversial issues as the semester progresses. Evidence suggests that students become more respectful of one another once they know their classmates. Students also develop stronger civil-discourse skills over time.

Do your research. Before teaching an issue, research it thoroughly. Being informed gives you confidence and helps you keep class discussions relevant and free of false claims.

Ensure civility. During class discussions, enact and enforce the norms of civil discourse. Most students are unfamiliar with how to engage in civil debates, especially given today’s political climate. Your guidance is essential.

Get feedback. At the end of the semester, get feedback from students by conducting another anonymous survey. Ask students about what they learned and their overall experience, including whether they felt uncomfortable, offended, or alienated. Learn from the feedback, adjust accordingly, and repeat the process next semester.

Of course, there are no perfect solutions. No matter what you do, some students may become offended or alienated during discussions involving controversial political issues. But by following the strategies outlined above, you will help make your classroom more inclusive for all students.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series on teaching controversial political issues to students.

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SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.