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Archive for the ‘Activities and Lessons’ Category

Promoting Media Literacy: Educators’ Resources

“Never have we had so much information at our fingertips. Whether this bounty will
make us smarter and better informed or more ignorant and narrow-minded
will depend on our awareness of this problem and our educational response to it.”
–From Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning
(published November 22, 2016, by the Stanford History Education Group)

Fake news and media literacy have been hot topics lately. The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2016 was post-truth–an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

How can librarians and educators teach digital and media literacy skills when many have not had formal training or education on these skills themselves?

The Center for Media Literacy in Santa Monica, California, was a pioneer in media literacy education. In 2005, this list of the five core concepts of media literacy was created, along with key questions for each one.

MEDIA LITERACY: CORE CONCEPTS & KEY QUESTIONS

  1. All media messages are constructed. [Who created this message?]
  1. Media messages are constructed using creative language with its own rules. [What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?]
  1. Different people experience the same media message differently. [How might different people understand this message differently from me?]
  1. Media have embedded values and points of view. [What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?]
  1. Most media messages are constructed to gain profit and/or power. [Why is this message being sent?]

This post offers some resources for promoting and teaching media literacy in the digital age. They were largely compiled from two webinars: Teaching Digital Literacy (edWeb) and Information Literacy in the Age of Fake News (School Library Journal).

Triangulation: Verification/Fact-Checking/Hoaxes

Triangulation is defined by Joyce Valenza as trying to “verify or corroborate the information in multiple sources, including traditional media and library databases.”

FactCheck.org: A nonpartisan, nonprofit from the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania that monitors “the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.”

Hoaxy: A tool created by the Observatory on Social Media at Indiana University that visualizes how claims in the news–and fact checks of those claims–spread online through social networks.

Hoax-Slayer: Allows Internet users to check the veracity of a large number of hoaxes. Owned and operated by Brett Christensen.

PolitiFact: An independent fact-checking website created by the Tampa Bay Times newspaper to sort out the truth in American politics. It rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others on its Truth-O-Meter.

Politwoops: Tracks deleted tweets by public officials, including people currently in office and candidates for office. From ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.

Snopes: Founded by David Mikkelson in 1994, the site bills itself as “the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.”

Lesson Plans/Curriculum Resources

Center for News Literacy: Offers a wide range of resources in their Digital Resource Center, including a 14-part curriculum, lesson plans, and a glossary. From Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism.

Checkology® Virtual Classroom: “Teaches students in grades 6-12 how to navigate today’s challenging information landscape by using the core skills and concepts of news literacy through a series of engaging digital experiences that use real-world examples of news and information and guided instruction from journalists and other experts.” From the News Literacy Project.

Media Education Lab: Creates free multimedia curriculum materials to help learners of all ages advance knowledge, skills, and competencies. From the Harrington School of Communication at the University of Rhode Island.

Media Literacy Clearinghouse: Developed by media education consultant Frank W. Baker, this site offers resources and workshops for K-12 educators promoting critical thinking to help students read media messages.

NewseumED: Offers free learning tools on media literacy and our First Amendment freedoms. From the Newseum, an interactive museum in Washington, D.C., that “promotes, explains and defends free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment.”

SchoolJournalism.org: Part of the American Society of News Editors‘ Youth Journalism Initiative, this site presents lesson plans, curriculum resources, articles and research on news, information and media literacy.

Curation

Headline Spot: Find thousands of the best and most useful U.S. and world news sources by media type, subject or location/region.

Kiosko: A visual daily press directory that gives access to the world’s largest news sites and displays a readable image taken from today’s frontpage cover of each newspaper. (Also available in French and Spanish.)

Other Resources

AllSides Dictionary: This resource bills itself as “a human look at hot-button terms from every perspective.” Created by over 30 volunteer mediators and educators who span the socio-political spectrum, it allows users to browse issues and terms as defined across the political bias spectrum.

Community of Online Research Assignments: An open access resource for faculty and librarians, intended to be a collaborative space for adapting and experimenting with research assignments and sharing the success or lessons learned so that others may benefit. Also includes a Teaching Toolkit featuring a wide range of resource types.

The CRAPP Test (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose): A list of questions to help you evaluate the information you find.

The Digital Citizenship Institute: Committed to “promoting social good through the use of social media and technology” by “partnering with districts, schools, parents and organizations to provide a community approach to digital citizenship.” Founder and CEO is Dr. Maryalice Curran.

The Center for Media Literacy: An “educational organization dedicated to promoting and supporting media literacy education that provides leadership, public education, professional development and educational resources nationally and internationally.”

Google Reverse Image Search: Begin your Google search by grabbing and dragging an image to Google Reverse Image Search in order to learn more about where it originated, and where else it is appearing. View a YouTube video of Google Image Downloader by Michelle Luhtala.

Making Sense of the News: Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens:  A six-week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) created by the University of Hong Kong and the State University of New York and offered through Coursera. It seeks to provide learners with “tools that teach you not what to read and consume, but rather how to critically consume information and make yourself more informed and engaged.”

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ProQuest Resources

See our guided research worksheet on How to Identify Fake News in 10 Steps. Also see ProQuest Guided Research products, which equip students to learn information literacy skills. Free trials are available.

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CultureGrams’ Teaching Activities: One Religion, Many Practices

Looking for new ways to incorporate CultureGrams into the classroom? Look no further than CultureGrams’ collection of over 75 teaching activities! This collection of educationally engaging activities is organized by grade level and activity type. Each activity also includes a national curriculum standard correlation.  If you don’t have access to CultureGrams, enjoy this free teaching activity today and sign up for a free trial of the product to access more.

One Religion, Many Practices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Standards for Social Studies

 Culture

  • Standard C [Middle Grades]: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity, so that the learner can explain and give examples of how language, literature, the arts, architecture, other artifacts, traditions, beliefs, values, and behaviors contribute to the development and transmission of culture.
  • Standard E [Middle Grades]: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity, so that the learner can articulate the implications of cultural diversity, as well as cohesion, within and across groups.

Developed by the National Council for the Social Studies

Standards for Geography Human Systems

  • Standard 10: The geographically informed person knows and understands the characteristics, distributions, and complexity of Earth’s cultural mosaics.

Developed by the National Council for Geographic Education

Grade level:

6–8

Objective:

Students will compare the practice of a single religion across multiple countries and interviews.

Time requirement:

Preparation: 10 minutes

In-class: 1 hour and 30 minutes, two different days

Materials:

CultureGrams World Edition

CultureGrams Online Edition—Interviews

Instructions:

1. Have students read three interviews with people who practice the same religion. The interviews featured below represent the perspectives of three Muslims from Kuwait, Mali, and Syria. Students can also find religion excerpts about Catholicism (Javier: Bolivia, Trina: Costa Rica, and Petrosse: Mozambique) and Buddhism (Sai: Cambodia, Dawa: Nepal, and Chhun: Cambodia) just to name a few.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. What differences do students notice in the way the interviewees practice their religion? Differences may be found in how often a person attends worship services, how important they consider religion in their life, ways they worship, and holidays they celebrate.

3. Now have students read the Religion section of each interviewee’s country in the World Edition report. What do these sections say about the religion? How does the information in the report compare to the information in the interviewees’ answers? How does the practice of the religion vary between countries?

4. Have students write a short essay on their observations about the ways a single religion varies in different areas and between individual observers of that religion. They may also speculate on why this could be.

Try out CultureGrams’ Teaching activities in your classroom and let us know what you think by tweeting us @CultureGrams.

Star Wars @YourLibrary: Ideas for May the 4th Be With You Day

Featured blogger Dawn Treude, a Library Assistant in Youth Services, provides tips for Star Wars programs at your public or school library.

There has never been a better time to be a Star Wars fan. Libraries are well suited to provide force-filled programming that may be scaled up or down depending on age groups, space, and budget parameters. In light of May the 4th Be With You Day, I wanted to share some successes we’ve had at the Scottsdale Public Library celebrating Star Wars.

Star Wars Collection Table Display. (Photo Courtesy of Dawn Treude.)

Star Wars Collection Table Display. (Photo Courtesy of Dawn Treude.)

While I think it’s always a good time for a Star Wars program, the two main opportunities are May the 4th Be With You Day in May and Star Wars Reads, which is now the entire month of October. The beauty of participating in these events is they are heavily promoted by Lucasfilm, Disney, StarWars.com and various publishing partners, like D.K. Books, across multiple social media platforms. In addition, printable resources and some promotional items are available for free to schools and libraries. (More on that below.)

Once you’ve decided to do a Star Wars program, you need to settle on an age group. We’ve tailored ours to the 5-11-year-old set to great success. I’ve used teen volunteers for bigger programs and run a single Star Wars Family Storytime by myself, taking advantage of the parent helpers in the room. These programs are a big draw when featured prominently in your library’s calendar of events. They’re also a great opportunity to highlight the Star Wars materials in your collection.

Origami Yoda Display. (Photo Courtesy of Dawn Treude.)

Origami Yoda Display. (Photo Courtesy of Dawn Treude.)

With kids, no program is complete without some Origami Yoda activities to challenge them! I’ve become an expert at making Yoda and Darth Paper. The kids love making them, especially when they get to choose the colored foil paper for the light saber. Since we do so much Star Wars programming, I took the time to make a permanent origami display.

Star Wars Display Stations. (Photo Courtesy of Dawn Treude.)

Star Wars Display Stations. (Photo Courtesy of Dawn Treude.)

For bigger programs, I choose to have stations and let the families move at their own pace between them. Our branch has a patio near the Youth area, so I spread out to avoid congestion. I take advantage of the free printables from StarWars.com and use the crosswords, word searches, and puzzles for what I like to call the Jedi Mind Tricks area.

The Death Star Trash Drive. (Photo Courtesy of Dawn Treude.)

The Death Star Trash Drive. (Photo Courtesy of Dawn Treude.)

For games and activities, Pinterest has provided some of the best ideas, under the guise of birthday party planning. I created an X-Ring Toss game using a library book cart and made lightsabers using pool noodles. But my best creation was the Death Star Trash Dive. I stuffed a library book bin with extra summer reading prizes, some of my Star Wars swag and our famous sea serpent from storytime. The kids loved digging through it to find a treasure or two.

Jedi Trials Obstacle Source Featuring Lightsabers. (Photo Courtesy of Dawn Treude.)

Jedi Trials Obstacle Source Featuring Lightsabers. (Photo Courtesy of Dawn Treude.)

We’ve made a Jedi Trials obstacle course with collapsible tunnels, yarn mazes and of course lightsaber precision training where padawans balance a balloon on their lightsaber. (Note: the lightsabers require supervision, especially if siblings are using them!)

In addition to having games and movement-centered activities in our Star Wars programming, we’ve also incorporated art. Two of the biggest hits are simple and low-cost. The first involves some planning, as you save withdrawn Star Wars items for a few months. These damaged or falling apart materials then become repurposed for scene creation. We supply blank paper, crayons, markers, glue sticks and scissors and the kids supply the imagination. They cut characters and starships out of the books and create their own story on the page. I personally can’t watch the book cutting, but the kids really get into it.

Handprint Wookiees. (Photo Courtesy of Dawn Treude.)

Handprint Wookiees. (Photo Courtesy of Dawn Treude.)

More recently, I took a risk with finger paint during a Star Wars themed Family Storytime and we made handprint Wookiees, an idea I saw on Pinterest. As you can see, the results were amazing.

I encourage costume wearing for all our Star Wars events and often wear my own Jedi gear. In our local area, there are Star Wars costume groups that have volunteers who are available to attend events in costume at no cost. Demand is high, so plan accordingly!

My Favorite Resources

ART2D2’s Guide to Folding and Doodling by Tom Angleberger

The Star Wars Craft Book by Bonnie Burton

‘Star Wars Reads’ Returns This October: This is a post from starwars.com that has nice downloadable options

Star Wars Reads Color the Page: This is a printable activity book from Lucasfilm Ltd

Pinterest: A search with the keywords Star Wars, storytime, birthday party, and activities returns helpful resources

Google: A search for Star Wars Storytime will yield useful information

The new movies have given a new generation the opportunity to become Star Wars fans. Big or small, I can guarantee that offering programming in the galaxy from far, far away, will bring your patrons in.

May the Force be with you!


Dawn Treude

Dawn Treude is a Library Assistant in Youth Services at the Scottsdale Public Library in Scottsdale, Arizona. A regular attendee at San Diego ComicCon, she enjoys sharing her passion for Star Wars with children and families.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screenplays in the Curriculum? Of Course!

Clapperboard (Credit: Photo by Will Jackson, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Television and movies are–for better or for worse–a dominating cultural force. They feed popular culture and the young minds imbibing it.

According to a 2012 Nielsen report, teens watch about 22 hours of television a week. And that’s not including movies, social media, YouTube, videos, and all sorts of other technologies.

Educators may find all of this media exposure distracting to their students. According to a report by Common Sense Media, “Many teachers think their students use of entertainment media has hurt their academic performance.”

So what’s an educator to do?

I recently watched the School Library Journal webcast Pop Literacy. (I highly recommend it.) It’s a great overview of how (and why) to incorporate pop culture into your curriculum, including a fascinating discussion of the word “appropriate” in terms of pop culture in the classroom.

One thing, in particular, struck me as worthwhile, fun, and exciting for students, as well as for teachers.

Screenwriting.

If young people are watching an average of three hours or more of television a day, it probably would benefit them to know WHAT they are watching and HOW it got there. Television shows and movies require a lot of elements along to way to becoming a finished product. One of the first? A screenplay.

A screenplay, or a script, is created by one person or a team of writers. Dialogue, interaction, action, and reaction, setting, set design, costume, and prop descriptions are woven together to create a world not just to be imagined, as in a book, but also to be brought into form.

How can this project be beneficial to students?

Most students watch and enjoy television. They are drawn in by the story, intrigued by the characters, immersed in the narrative, invested in its conclusion. Some students do not enjoy classroom creative writing–the process can be intimidating and overwhelming. Screenwriting is a way to engage students as part of the collaborative and creative process in writing a screenplay.

Reading. You can start by reading, analyzing, and discussing a screenplay. There’s a huge selection at imsdb.com, including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, La La Land, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. You can search by genre, or for a specific script. For younger students, try the read-aloud plays in SIRS Discoverer.

Discussion. Introduce students to the codes and conventions of screenwriting and review the significance of the three-act structure. Explore how to create a unique voice for each character and consider why a convincing setting is an important element of the screenplay.

Writing. Your students now have a basic idea of the screenwriting process and screenplay elements. Now, divide the students into teams, give them parameters, and set them to work imagining, discussing, and writing! Try this Writing a Screenplay lesson plan for guidance and inspiration.

Ready to move one step further and create student films from the finished screenplays? This filmmaking unit for 6th through 8th grade students gives an overview of the process.

Interested in learning more about screenwriting in the classroom? Check out the links below.

Teaching Scriptwriting, Screenplays and Storyboards for Film and TV Production
How to Bring Screenwriting into the Classroom
Teaching Screenwriting to Teenagers
Scriptwriting in the Classroom

Do you have thoughts about or experiences with screenwriting as an activity for your students? We’d love to hear them! Tweet us #ProQuest.

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Identifying Patterns: Why Do Some Flags Look Similar?

Flag map of the world

Flag map of the world [via Wikimedia Commons]

If you look at any image gallery of the flags of the world (such as the one provided by CultureGrams), you’ll notice that while there are a wide variety of colors and symbols on the flags, there are also some obvious similarities, especially among flags from the same region. These similarities in flag design often reflect a common cultural, political, or religious heritage among the countries with those flags.

Help Students Understand 6 Common Patterns and Themes in World Flags
Use the CultureGrams Flag Gallery to get students started exploring similarities among the flags of the world. Can your students spot any patterns or themes in world flags? What do they think the reasons are for those similarities? (Tip: If students need help understanding the meaning behind the colors and symbols of world flags, check out the helpful explanation on each CultureGrams World and Kids country landing page.)

While there are many patterns to be found in world flags, here’s a quick overview of six common themes:

  1. The Union Jack. The Union Jack is the name of the flag of the United Kingdom, and variations of the Union Jack appear on the flags of some countries and territories that were formerly (or are currently) associated with the United Kingdom. These include Australia, Fiji, Montserrat, New Zealand, Tuvalu, and Niue.
  2. A star and the color red. Many current communist countries include a star/s and the color red on their flags. The star/s typically represent ideas associated with communism or socialism, and the color red stands for revolution. Countries whose flags incorporate this symbolism include China, North Korea, and Vietnam.
  3. The star and crescent. The star and crescent became common during the Ottoman Empire and are now considered traditional symbols of Islam. Flags that use these symbols include those of Algeria, Azerbaijan, Comoros, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives (crescent only), Mauritania, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
  4. The Pan-Arab colors. The Pan-Arab colors are green, red, black, and white. These colors first came from the 1916 flag of the Arab Revolt. A subset of the Pan-Arab colors are the Arab Liberation colors (red, white, and black, with green less prominent), which came into use in the 1950s. Flags with Pan-Arab colors are those of Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Sudan.
  5. The Pan-African colors. There are two sets of Pan-African colors: (1) red, green, and gold, based on the Ethiopian flag, and (2) red, black, and green, based on the 1920 Pan-African flag. Countries may incorporate one or both sets of Pan-African colors into their flags. Not all countries that use the Pan-African colors in their flags are in Africa; some are countries elsewhere with strong African heritage. Flags with Pan-African colors include those of Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Benin, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, and Guyana.
  6. The Pan-Slavic colors. The Pan-Slavic colors are red, white, and blue. The colors were decided on at the 1848 Prague Slavic Congress and were based on the colors of the Russian flag. Countries whose flags use the Pan-Slavic colors are Croatia, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

What themes and patterns did your students find in the flags? Did they notice the six mentioned above? Did they find others? Let us know on Twitter how your students did by tweeting us at @CultureGrams!

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Demonstrate Your Vexillological Prowess! U.S. State Flag Quiz!

Looking for Field Trip Ideas? Here Are 5 State Parks to Visit This Spring

Spring is in the air! It is a great time for students to get outside and enjoy nature. One way students can connect with the great outdoors is to visit a state park. State parks are frequently used by educators and students as outdoor classrooms. They offer students unique environmental and historical learning opportunities. If you’re looking to create a memorable experience for your students, consider planning a field trip to one of these stunning state parks.

 

Antelope Island State Park, Utah

Antelope Island State Park, Utah
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

1. Antelope Island State Park

Antelope Island State Park is located north of Salt Lake City, Utah and is accessible via the Davis County Causeway. The park provides excellent views of the Great Salt Lake and is home to many kinds of animals, including bison, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, bighorn sheep, bobcats, coyotes, and a wide variety of birds. One of the highlights of my trip to Antelope Island State Park was getting the chance to see bison and beautiful horses at the Fielding Garr Ranch. A visit to the park is not complete without stopping at the historic ranch. The ranch house built by Fielding Garr is the “oldest original-foundation Anglo building” in the state of Utah.

Antelope Island State Park provides numerous field trip opportunities. Students can take a guided hike to Buffalo Point, participate in a scavenger hunt during the visitor center tour, and wade into the Great Salt Lake to look for brine shrimp and brine flies. If you’re thinking about planning a field trip to Antelope Island State Park, check out some of these lesson plans offered by the park to get you started:

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

2. Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Utah. The park is located near the town of Moab, which also serves as the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands national parks. The park’s main attraction is the Dead Horse Point Overlook Trail. The overlook offers breathtaking views of the Colorado River and adjoining canyon country 2,000 feet below.

Dead Horse Point State Park offers students the chance to learn about geology, local flora and fauna, prehistoric cultures, and the park environment.

Emerald Bay State Park, California

Emerald Bay State Park, California
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

3. Emerald Bay State Park

For anyone interested in experiencing the beauty of Lake Tahoe, California’s Emerald Bay State Park is a must-see. It is located 12 miles north of South Lake Tahoe. The park offers sightseeing, hiking, boating, swimming, scuba diving, and kayaking. The scenic overlook on Highway 89 provides visitors with a magnificent panorama of Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, and Fannette Island. In 1969, the U.S. Department of Interior designated Emerald Bay as a National Natural Landmark.

If you’re considering taking your students on a field trip to Emerald Bay State Park, I highly recommend taking a tour of Vikingsholm. The historic mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered “one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture” in the country. Guided tours are available for a nominal fee from Memorial Day through September.

Franconia Notch State Park

Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

4. Franconia Notch State Park

Franconia Notch State Park is located within the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. It offers students the opportunity to see some amazing geological wonders. The park was home to New Hampshire’s beloved Old Man of the Mountain landmark until it collapsed on May 3, 2003.

Popular activities at the park include riding the aerial tramway at Cannon Mountain, walking through the spectacular Flume Gorge, and visiting the New England Ski Museum. Other activities include boating, fly fishing, swimming, bike riding, hiking, and camping. If you live in New England, I encourage you to take your students on a field trip to visit this magnificent state park.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, California

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, California
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

5. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is considered the “crown jewel” of the California State Park system. The entrance is located on California Highway 1 just south of Carmel. Point Lobos is known for its breathtaking ocean vistas, scenic trails, and its abundant wildlife. On my trips to Point Lobos, I’ve been lucky enough to see deer, sea lions, harbor seals, and sea otters.

Point Lobos gives students a chance to appreciate the natural treasures of California’s Central Coast, making it an ideal destination for an educational field trip. Students can observe marine mammals in their natural habitat, study the area’s diverse flora and fauna, and visit the Whalers Cabin and the Whaling Station Museum to learn about the cultural history of Point Lobos.  I’ve visited Point Lobos many times, and in my opinion, it is the most beautiful place on Earth.

Now you know some of my favorite state parks, tell me about the state parks you love to visit. Are you planning an upcoming field trip to a state park? What state parks do you recommend?

Comment below or tweet us using #ProQuest.

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Classroom Socratic Seminars: Teaching the Art of Dialogue

Statue of Socrates in Trinity College Library

Statue of Socrates in Trinity College Library (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International/(c) Bar Harel, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Information literacy skills are integral to today’s rising students for many reasons, including tendencies toward information overload and the trend of fake news.

The gathering of information begins with a need or desire for an answer to a question. Perhaps that question is posed by a teacher or by the student herself. The next course of action in schools these days is usually to consult a website, or perhaps a book. Information literacy skills support students in navigating this process of finding answers.

But once students are equipped with these vital research skills and find answers to questions, what is the next step toward understanding and integrating the information they find?

Another way to ask that question might be this: How can we turn information gathering into wisdom?

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”—Socrates

Socrates prized questioning over information gathering. He valued the qualities of critical thinking and engagement with a topic. He believed in creating a learning atmosphere of cooperation, dialogue, listening, and further questioning—cornerstones of the Socratic method, and foundations of the Socratic seminar.

Socrates believed that collecting and memorizing information provided little opportunity for true learning. And as learning was best nurtured in a social atmosphere, the lone activity of research provided little support for critical thinking and comprehension.

Navigating and bridging the educational essentials of research and the art of critical thinking may be a challenging journey.

The Socratic seminar is one way to help connect these two elements of a successful classroom.

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”—Socrates

The Socratic seminar provides students with a forum to ask questions and exchange ideas with their peers on a specific topic, event, or piece of literature. Students come prepared to engage in discussion with fellow students, having read assigned materials, conducted appropriate research, made personal connections, and formulated questions to bring to the seminar.

The teacher becomes the seminar’s facilitator, keeping the students on topic and asking open-ended questions when necessary. The goal is to allow students to practice the art of true dialogue. Emphasis is placed on the value of listening and respecting everyone’s questions and opinions. Socratic seminars are not debates; rather, they are cooperative conversations geared toward critical thinking and discovery.

Interested in learning more about this teaching and learning tool? Check out this Socratic Seminar Strategy Guide and this Seminar Discussion Rubric, and select from these Socratic seminar lesson plans on literary texts, immigration, and human gene editing.

“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.”—Socrates

Activities for the 100th Day of School

100th Day of School Collection Poster
by RubyDW is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Depending on which part of the U.S. you live in, your students will celebrate their 100th day of school pretty soon (it usually occurs in January or February each year). Many schools across the country celebrate the 100th day of school. It’s not only a milestone but also a great opportunity for teachers to practice math with their students. This is especially important in preschool and kindergarten, where students are learning their numbers. But it also provides good activities for all elementary-level students.

For example, you may ask your students to bring in “100” of something. It could be a collection of paperclips, or macaroni noodles, or buttons. The possibilities are endless! When my son was in preschool, he brought in a collection of 100 animal fact cards that we collected from National Geographic Little Kids magazines. We laid out all the cards on the floor and I helped him count all the way to 100. We also practiced counting by 10s. This activity is a good way to introduce more numbers.

See these fun activities that you can use in your classroom:

100th Day of School (Starfall)

Have a 100th Day of School Celebration (Scholastic)

100th Day of School Activities (K-5 Math)

Celebrate the 100th day of school!  (ReadWriteThink)

What Is the 100th Day of School? (VeryWell)

Celebrate the 100th Day of School (Education World)

In SIRS Discoverer, we love to find resources that teachers can use in their classrooms. See our activities page and math resources for more ideas. Also, see this cute story from Highlights for Children entitled 100 Things about a girl who is trying to find 100 things to bring in for the 100th day of school celebration.

Are you celebrating the 100th day of school? We want to know about it. Tweet us at #ProQuest or comment below!

Bring on the (Educational and Fun) Song Parodies!

Musical Notes

Musical Notes (License: Public Domain, PublicDomainPictures.Net)

Song parodies are quite popular these days. A search of “song parodies” on the Web returns more than 30,000 videos—and some of these song-parody creators have quite the following. Shows like Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon Tonight, or the Academy Awards boldly use song parodies to get laughs and make statements. Weird Al Yankovich, who caused quite a musical stir in the 1980s with his song parodies and satirical music videos, is still the biggest name in the genre.

And then…there are the educational song parodies [insert students laughing and/or groaning—it’s usually a mixture of both].

I’ve been in classrooms and have watched students watching educational song parodies.

Coming from 1980s classroom culture, which embraced video watching as a fun and wasteful day, I was a bit skeptical.

But the classroom came alive, and I witnessed learning happening.

Each of the educational song-parody videos I saw in the classroom—or heard about from my daughter and watched with her later—was created by an educator somewhere in the world singing or rapping (sometimes pretty badly) about a topic. (And let me just say that any teacher willing to put time and effort into creating an educational song parody and accompanying video gets an “A” in my book.)

So…we are in the classroom, the lights are dimmed, the screen goes down, the music and video come on and…education begins. The students snicker, groan, laugh, and sing along. The song parody ends, discussion concludes the lesson. Class is over, and students leave the classroom singing the song.

As I said, learning happened. And it was fun.

If you check some out, I think you will understand why. My daughter’s favorite is “Ancient Mesopotamia Song By Mr. Nicky.”  Mr. Nicky has recorded other World History song parodies, but this one is particularly enjoyable (and quite catchy). Another favorite of hers is “Five Themes of Geography,” by James B White. He calls it “hip-hop-tabulous.”

Math facts have made their way into educational song parodies, as in the song-parody compilation “Multiplication Mash Up – A Fun Way to Learn Your Multiplication Facts!” by McCarthy Math Academy . And be sure to check out this charming performance of “Perfect Squares (Dark Horse Parody, Katy Perry) Songs For School” by Songs for School.

Want some more? Web sites catering to teachers, such as TeachHub and Mental Floss, have compiled lists of the best educational song parodies: Top 12 Educational Music Videos and 19 Videos That Make Learning Fun, respectively. TeacherTube provides a search engine to find more educator-approved educational song parodies.

And if you’re thinking of getting in to the song-parody business, you’ll need to know how to write one. How to Write a Song Parody, complete with graphics, should cover it.

Song parodies are so popular that teachers are incorporating them into their class curriculum. Curious about how that would work? Check out this Student Parody Assignment. Wondering how a song-parody project fits into educational standards? To give you an idea, I found this handy Civil War Song Parodies assignment page from the Pennsylvania Standards Aligned System site.

I’m going to end with a personal note–My daughter has written and performed two song parodies so far in her World History class. She was so proud of the finished work and loved the entire process. She and her partner called their second song parody “This Is Greece,” sung to the tune of “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid. If you know the song and can carry a tune, try it out–I’ve included the first verse and chorus below:

The Greek world is on a peninsula
In the meditteranean sea
You dream about myths
About every single god
Just look at those city-states
With history, art, and drama
Such architecture around you
What more could you be wishin’ for

This is Greece
This is Greece
Oh my, it’s better
Down here we’re voting
Take it from me!
Up in Sparta they fight all day
Out in the mountains they train away
While we’re learning
Full-tme democracy
This is Greece!

Happy song-parodying!

 

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