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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!

 

How to Identify Fake News in 10 Steps

Fake news is a problem. Information illiteracy is an even bigger problem. A Stanford University study released last November found that most students could not identify fake news because they lacked basic information literacy skills. The good news? We are finally having a national conversation on the importance of teaching information literacy, which teachers and librarians have been talking about for years.

Unfortunately, a recent ProQuest survey found that only 25% of librarians thought their library adequately supported information literacy instruction. Thankfully, there are information literacy resources available on the web. Damon Brown’s TED-ED video “How to Choose Your News” offers a quick, student-friendly introduction to information and media literacy. ProQuest’s editable guided research worksheet “How to Identify Fake News in 10 Steps” helps students become skeptical news consumers.

Want more resources? See eLibrary’s new comprehensive Research Topic on Fake News.

ProQuest Guided Research products equip students to learn information literacy skills. Free trials are available.

Mindful Breathing in the Classroom

Woman Breathing and Meditating (by Joellepearson) gerokee
[CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Breathe in–I know I am breathing in. Breathe out–I know I am breathing out. Breathe in–I know I am breathing in. Breathe out–I know I am breathing out. Breathe in–I know I am breathing in. Breathe out–I know I am breathing out.

How many times a day are you aware of your breathing?

Our breath connects our bodies with our minds.

Try the above exercise for a minute and feel the truth of that statement.

Breathing is a physical action that occurs instinctively…over and over and over and over and over again. Our breath connects us to life. Without it, we do not bring oxygen into our lungs, our blood cells do not absorb it and transport this essential element to our organs and other cells, our bodies no longer sustain themselves and their animation.

Our breath connects us to each other.

Imagine the infinity sign: You breathe out, I breathe in. I breathe out, you breathe in.

Breathing is integral to many religious and spiritual practices. Beautiful philosophies about the spiritual impact of breathing abound. Some spiritual leaders, including Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hahn, believe that taking control of one’s breath will lead to healing and enlightenment. Proper breathing is part of a practice called “mindfulness” in the Buddhist tradition.

Mindful breathing is an integral part of mindfulness practice.

Imagine a classroom in which the teacher and all of the students are breathing together, aware of their breath. They are in control of their bodies and minds in a way that others, who not aware of their breathing, are not. Because they are in control of their bodies and minds, these students are calm, open, balanced, ready to engage, prepared to learn.

There have been many studies conducted to prove the beneficial impact of controlled breathing on students and in the classroom. Check out this one from the University of Ontario, which concluded that the classroom practice of mindful breathing improves academic success. Other studies show the same, and also document other favorable effects, such as reduced stress, improved social behavior, and even increased feelings of happiness.

So learning to breathe, or more accurately, learning to breathe properly, is a life skill that is taught with enormously successful results in classrooms. Deep belly breathing, paying attention to one’s breath, following the breath in and out, practicing movement (such as yoga) while breathing, incorporating guided meditations while breathing, using sound to punctuate the breath—these are all ways educators incorporate mindful breathing into their classrooms.

Try the super-simple breathing technique at the top of this post again. Breathe in–I know I am breathing in. Breathe out–I know I am breathing out. Breathe low into your lungs, exercising your diaphragm and expanding your belly. Can you feel the power in your breath? When I am anxious, stressed, feeling out of control, or generally not OK, I feel my breath turn shallow and somewhat erratic. Mindful breathing brings me back to myself, back to my center physically and emotionally.

I am not an educator, nor a yoga or breath-work practitioner. But I found a few very useful resources that can help any teacher—or anyone, really—get started with proper breathing techniques.

This five-minute guided breathing meditation from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center encourages listeners to sit, listen to and feel their bodies, and breathe. Five minutes can do a world of wonder for anxiety and other stress-related issues.

The Mindful Classroom is an educator’s blog about mindfulness in the classroom. This post on deep breathing discusses why this practice is so important to classroom efficacy. It provides a script for teachers to guide students in breathing and offers tips and techniques in leading healthy breathing exercises.

Teacher Meena Srinivasan’s book Teach, Breathe, Learn offers guidance to teachers on ways to bring mindfulness into the classroom. Breathing is one of the tools she utilizes to create a calm and compassionate classroom.

Let’s all learn to breathe. Not just for our students, but for ourselves.

Training for Your ProQuest Resources

Libraries see surge in e-book demandDon’t forget that ProQuest provides free training.  Our Training and Consulting Partners team is available at any time to meet with you via a privately scheduled webinar.  Just email us to make an inquiry.  We also provide regularly scheduled public webinars.  You can contact our team to discuss your questions about ProQuest resources, and we are also happy to focus privately scheduled sessions on topic areas of particular interest to you. 

This is just one of the many benefits you derive from licensure to your ProQuest resources!

 

CultureGrams Scavenger Hunt

Are you looking for an engaging way to help your students learn about the countries of the world? We just want to remind you that we’ve put together a scavenger hunt that will help them do that, and students will become familiar with some of the content and features available in the CultureGrams World Edition as well. The activity requires students (either individually or in groups) to answer a series of questions on an assigned country by “scavenging” through the product. And in the process, they learn about some of our standard CultureGrams categories, plus features like the Currency Converter, Data Tables, Famous People, Photos, and Recipes.

world-edition

CultureGrams World Edition via ProQuest

Most of the questions are factual in nature, but there are critical thinking questions as well. The scavenger hunt can be an activity that you use on its own or it can be a way to teach students how to use CultureGrams for country research as preparation for working on their own.

cg-learning-activity

CultureGrams Scavenger Hunt via ProQuest

Check it out by clicking here. Enjoy!

#FeatureFriday: Editorial Cartoons in SIRS Discoverer

It’s #FeatureFriday! Learn about editorial cartoons in the Spotlight On… feature of SIRS Discoverer.

The origins of editorial cartoons date back to the eighteenth century. By the mid-nineteenth century, several magazines such as Punch and Harper’s Weekly were publishing editorial and political cartoons. It was during this time that Thomas Nast,  known as the “Father of the American Cartoon,” popularized editorial cartoons with his take-down of corrupt politicians–particularly “Boss” Tweed. Nast is also known for his creation of the Republican Elephant and Democratic Donkey.

"Boss" Tweed as illustrated by Thomas Nast.

“Boss” Tweed as illustrated by Thomas Nast
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Visual Literacy and Common Core Standards

Several forms of literary and visual devices such as exaggeration, personification, symbolism, irony, satire and caricature are often used in editorial cartoons. Because of this, editorial cartoons support dynamic classroom lessons in Visual Literacy. Cartoons invite students to think critically and analyze what they see in the images. Such cartoons also provided an excellent opportunity to evaluate bias and point of view as most cartoonists illustrate their beliefs towards their subjects.

Find Editorial Cartoons on SIRS Discoverer

Editorial and political cartoons are featured throughout SIRS Discoverer on a wide variety of topics. Cartoons are editorially selected from prize-winning and reliable sources. These cartoons can be located through a Subject Heading search and a Subject Tree search. In addition to these searches, a cartoon can be found within the In the News feature (located in the Spotlight On…) where at the beginning of each month, SIRS editors hand-select an editorial cartoon that focuses on a news event. Students are then invited to answer a question based on the featured text and cartoon.

ProQuest SIRS Discoverer: In the News

ProQuest SIRS Discoverer: In the News

Want to know even more about the editorial cartoons? Patrick Chappatte is the cartoonist who is often featured within SIRS Discoverer. Take a look at his TED Talk where he discusses the power of cartoons.

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