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Star Trek is 50!

On September 8, 1966, NBC aired the first episode of a show that lasted only three seasons. The network could not have predicted that the show, whose introduction announces a five-year mission, would spawn a franchise that would persist for 50 years and have a profound effect on culture and science.

Star Trek RT

Star Trek Research Topic page via ProQuest eLibrary

Of course, the show was Star Trek. And, to celebrate its birthday, here are some easily digestible bullet-pointed facts:

-The show was created by Gene Roddenberry and starred William Shatner as the dashing Captain James T. Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as the logic-driven Spock and DeForest Kelley as grumpy doctor Leonard McCoy, who resumed their roles in the movies of the 1980s. In the reboot films, those roles are played by Chris Pine, Zachary Qunito and Karl Urban.

-Desilu Studios, the company founded by famous TV couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, produced the show, and the call to go ahead with production was made by Lucy herself. She was running the company following her divorce from Arnaz and decided to pull the trigger because she she thought Star Trek promised something different from the average TV fare.

-Trek fans have been devoted from the very beginning. Due to low ratings, the show was threatened with cancellation in the second season, but a write-in campaign by fans helped keep it on the air for a third. All these years later, fandom is still strong.

-Roddenberry, hoping to break from the tired tropes of TV, intended Star Trek to explore topics that weren’t normally allowed on the air. “You really couldn’t talk about anything you cared to talk about. It seemed to me that perhaps if I wanted to talk about sex, religion, politics, make some comments against Vietnam, and so on, that if I had similar situations involving these subjects happening on other planets to little green people, indeed it might get by, and it did.”

-Which brings us to …

Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura engaged in what is often referred to as the first televised interracial kiss. This was, of course, controversial in 1968, and there were efforts to avoid showing the actors’ lips touching before the scene was allowed to run as written.

-To date, Star Trek has resulted in six TV series (and one on the way), 13 movies and hundreds of books, making it a very profitable “enterprise.”

-The Original Series, or TOS, predicted and even directly influenced many technological developments, including mobile phones, computer tablets and plasma TVs. For example, Martin Cooper, inventor of the first cell telephone, said that the Star Trek communicator was the inspiration for the now-ubiquitous device.

-From over-budget to big profits: The pilot for TOS went over budget and cost $616,000 ($4.7 million in 2016 dollars), and then was scrapped by NBC before it greenlighted the series. The 2009 reboot movie brought in $385.7 million.

Besides those found in the links above, here are some more resources you can beam up from eLibrary:

Science Fiction
Television
1960s Popular Culture

CultureGrams: Critical Thinking

A great way to foster critical thinking and engaged learning in your students is to help them learn to ask good questions, to push beyond the obvious, to see purely factual data points in a broader context. Asking good questions promotes independent thinking, stimulates curiosity, increases understanding, and helps people see how seemingly disparate ideas connect.

We encourage teachers to use CultureGrams to promote critical thinking in their classrooms. There are many ways to do so. You might ask students, for example, why many major metropolitan areas are often located in coastal areas or near major waterways. Take Australia, China, Canada, or Brazil, for example. Look at where many of the largest cities are concentrated. Why aren’t the cities scattered more evenly across these countries? The answers to these questions may vary, depending on the country. You could discuss the significance of trade and access to foreign markets; the importance of water to sustain life and as a means of travel; the influence of history, geography, and climate on settlement and growth; etc. Encourage students to ask why things are the way they are. This can lead them to insights they may not have had previously.

Brazil Simple Map

Brazil Map via ProQuest CultureGrams

You could also ask students to think about what countries in a particular region have in common besides just occupying a particular part of the world. Have students think about the many of the island nations of Oceania, for instance. Do they share common geographical features or similar climates? Are there common languages, a common religion, or similar cultural attitudes? How do their economies compare? What common challenges do countries in Oceania face? Also, what differentiates countries in the region? And what is the impact of these similarities and differences on the region as a whole?

Tahiti

Aerial View, Tahiti, French Polynesia (photo by Peter Stone via the CultureGrams Photo Gallery)

Another fruitful area of exploration might be to ask students how the content in one CultureGrams category impacts the content in another. How does the land and climate in a particular country influence the economy? How has a country’s history shaped its linguistic or religious development? How do a culture’s attitudes about family affect how they view dating and marriage?

And lastly, you could ask students to compare statistical data between two or more countries. What does the data reveal? How can the differences in data be explained? For example,  below is a customized table that provides data related to health and life expectancy for Belgium and Uganda. What does the data reveal? What might be some of the root causes for the differences in the numbers?

Belgium Uganda Comparison

To be clear, teachers will need to monitor these kinds of activities/discussions to make sure that students are coming to sound conclusions and not speculating wildly about cause and effect. But that process in itself can be useful in teaching students how to analyze factual information.

Of course, there are many other areas in CultureGrams that you could use to foster critical thinking, but we hope this gets you started thinking of some of the possibilities. Please let us know if you have any great ideas on this topic or if you come up with interesting activities that foster critical thinking.

SIRS Discoverer: Celebrate the Constitution

We celebrate the U.S. Constitution each year during the week of September 17, in honor of its signing on September 17, 1787. The Constitution’s significance on U.S. government and laws is momentous and central to our rights and responsibilities as citizens.

Do today’s young students understand the importance of the U.S. Constitution? Do they know where and when it was written? Can they name a few of its creators and signers? Can they name and define any of the constitutional amendments? Would they understand how the Constitution and its amendments impact our daily lives?

In honor of Constitution Week, SIRS Discoverer’s September Spotlight of the Month highlights the product’s constitutional content and provides students an easy way to research the Constitution and its amendments. Perhaps you and your students could celebrate Constitution Week with a fun research assignment. There are several amendments out of the 27 that seem to be cited most often. How about asking your students to choose one and learn more about it?

By Constitutional Convention [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Constitutional Convention [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The 1st amendment establishes our right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. What does this mean for us? We can worship as we choose, we can express new and different ideas with no repercussions, and news outlets can report on what is happening in our country and our world. Question: Before the Revolutionary War, did colonial America have freedom of the press?

The 2nd amendment, which protects the right to own guns and use them for self-defense, may be the most debated of all of the constitutional amendments. Question: Where did the concept of “the right to bear arms” originate?

Following the Civil War, the 14th amendment was ratified. It legally protects the citizenship rights all Americans, regardless of race, and details those who are entitled to U.S. citizenship. Question: What “codes” did some Southern states create in response to the 14th amendment?

The 15th amendment guarantees people of all races the right to vote. It was the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments, which were adopted after the Civil War. Question: What state first ratified the 15th amendment?

The 19th amendment gives women the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, leaders of the women’s suffrage movement, helped to draft the amendment. Question: What two women pioneered the women’s suffrage movement by organizing a meeting in Seneca Falls?

Visit SIRS Discoverer during the month of September. Your students will definitely learn some facts about the Constitution. Who knows, you may learn something, too!

CultureGrams: One Religion, Many Practices

UzbekistanMosque.header

Mir-e Arab Mosque, Bukhara, Uzbekistan by Robert Wilson (CC BY-ND 2.0) via Flickr

Did you know that there are over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide? Across this massive group, there is a considerable range of religious practice and doctrinal interpretation. Catholicism and Buddhism have similarly large and diverse populations whose adherents can be found in very different geographic regions and societies. To better understand how religious belief impacts people, students need to understand that most religions have a range of beliefs and practices. The following activity from the CultureGrams Activities PDF helps students to explore differences within one religion across different cultures.

mosque.isfahan

Mosque in Isfahan, Iran by Babak Farrokhi (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Teaching Activity: One Religion, Many Practices

Time requirement
Preparation: 10 minutes
In-class : 1 hour and 30 minutes, two different days

Research and Writing
Grade level: 6–8; can be modified for other age groups
Objective: Students will compare the practice of a single religion across multiple countries and interviews.

Materials: CultureGrams Online Edition—Interviews

Instructions
1. Have students read three interviews with people who practice the same religion. Some options are Islam (Qosimov: Uzbekistan, Djiba: Senegal, and Joud: Jordan), Catholicism (Javier: Bolivia, Trina: Costa Rica, and Petrosse: Mozambique), and Buddhism (Sai: Cambodia, Dawa: Nepal, and Chhun: Cambodia).
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.

*See pg. 55-56 of the CultureGrams Teaching Activities PDF  to view the education standards that are targeted in this activity.

mosque.bahrain

Mosque in Bahrain by Denise Krebs (CC BY 2.0) via Fickr

CultureGrams Activity: Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro. (Photo courtesy of the CultureGrams photo collection)

The Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin next week on August 5. Get your students excited about the Olympics by having them participate in some of our Olympic-themed activities, which can be found on our Teaching Activities PDF.  One of these activities is included below, but our Teaching Activities PDF has more ideas to help students learn about different aspects of the Olympics.

Grade level
K–5

Objective
Students explore and familiarize themselves with the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Time requirement
In-class: 50 minutes

Materials
CultureGrams Kids Edition—Brazil

Instructions
1. Introduce the activity by discussing the concept of the Olympic Games. Explain that the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Spend some time discussing with the class what qualities and conditions a city or country must meet in order to be chosen to host the Olympic Games.
2. Break students up into groups and have each group read through the Kids Edition Brazil report, paying particular attention to the sections that describe the factors that make it a good home for the Summer Games (e.g., the Land and Climate section) as well as the country’s unique cultural and historical aspects that might play a role during the Olympic Games.
3. Have each group summarize and present their findings. As a class, discuss what they have learned about Brazil and why Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 Games.

Extension Activity
Have students discuss whether or not they think their state has a suitable city to host the Olympics. What would make it a good place? What would be some of its drawbacks? Have students write a letter to the International Olympic Committee, explaining why their state should or should not host the Olympic Games.

CultureGrams: U.S. State Symbols

New York State Symbols

CultureGrams States Edition: New York Report via ProQuest CultureGrams

Do want to impress your friends with the breadth of your cultural and geographic knowledge of the United States? Do you want to provide your students with a learning opportunity that is sure to engage their interest? One way to do that is to learn about the state symbols for your state. Or even better, become familiar with symbols for other states as well. You can find this content in the CultureGrams States Edition, under Fun Facts & Contacts in the left navigation bar. Once you’re there, you’ll find the state bird (and its associated bird call), the state tree, the state flower, and other state symbols for every state. Plus, you will find a list of other interesting state symbols. You may even find some more unusual symbols such as a state cookie, a state musical instrument, a state dance, a state insect, and even a state firearm. Who doesn’t want to know these fun facts?

For a classroom activity, you could assign students to dig a little deeper, assigning them to do further research on these symbols. They could find out more information about the symbols themselves, or discover why the symbols were chosen to represent their state. Furthermore, you could divide your students into small groups and ask each group to give a brief presentation on a symbol or make a poster to hang up in the classroom.

Whatever approach you choose, students are bound to be curious about the plants, animals, rocks, foods, fossils, and songs that represent their state.

Education Using Ebooks

Ebook Central 10

Ebooks are a great way for teachers and students to put together technology with essential knowledge and skills. ProQuest provides a number of ways to put ebooks to good use in the classroom. The all-new ProQuest Ebook Central provides your library with every possible access option from purchasing your ebook collection directly to providing set loan days over a year, or to simply subscribing to unlimited use of large amounts of key content, just like you would your favorite reference database. Resources in ProQuest Ebook Central support all types of classroom instruction as well, including STEM, History, Literature, Math, Language Arts, Education, Psychology, Science, Religion, and more. And, with ProQuest’s Ebook Central, students may mark and annotate key parts of the text of any book, or download to any device.

Learn all about ProQuest Ebook Central, or any of our other extensive ProQuest resource collections by joining the ProQuest Training and Consulting team in a free public webinar. If we haven’t listed the class you’re interested in, just contact us and we’ll be happy to make arrangements to meet with you directly.

CultureGrams Activity: Create Your Own Flag

Students of all ages love creative projects where they can use their imaginations to create something that is both fun to make and is a reflection of their personalities. So if you’d like to find a creative educational project for your class, we have just the thing for you. This activity from our CultureGrams Teaching Activities PDF provides an opportunity for students to learn about national flags and how they represent a country’s culture and values. Students will also have a chance to draw upon what they learn in studying national flags to create flags that represent their own values, interests, and culture.

AntiguaandBarbuda_flag_lg

Flag of Antigua and Barbuda via CultureGrams

Flag Creation

Objective Students will discuss the symbolism and meaning of various national flags and then create flags to represent themselves.

Grade level K–5

Time requirement

Preparation: 40 minutes

In-class: 50 hours

Materials

  • Art materials—construction paper, scissors, glue, pens, etc.
  • Various international flags (all are available in the CultureGrams Flag Gallery)

Instructions

  1. Introduce the concept of flags as works of art that use color, design, and symbols to convey meaning.
  2. Show students the international flags you have selected and explain the symbols used on them. (If you have a subscription to CultureGrams, each country’s flag image and interpretation is available on its landing page.) For example, in the flag of South Africa, the colors symbolize the unity of the nation’s races. In the flag of the United Kingdom, the crosses represent England, Scotland, and Ireland. In the flag of Greece, the cross symbolizes the Greek Orthodox Church.
  3. Assign students to create a unique flag representing themselves, their family, or their city, state, or country of birth. Encourage them to find colors and symbols that stand for something important to them.
  4. Have students display their flags for the class and explain their use of color, symbolism, and design

CultureGrams has a Flag Gallery for both the World and Kids editions as well as for the States and Provinces editions. So there are plenty of flags for students to look at as examples.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Learning from History

HNPG2016

What was the federal budget deficit in 1970? 1980? 1990? How about the trade deficit? How did Americans view foreign policy in the 1950’s or 1960’s — or how about even the 1870’s? How did we handle immigration policy in the early years of the nation compared to today? These are all great questions to think about and explore, and through exploring what people were saying and thinking in various years in the past we can often learn something about our own challenges today, where we may have improved, and also where we may need to improve. ProQuest Historical Newspapers Graphical Edition provides this opportunity. You can look at topics from slavery to the 21st century, and from the Reagan era to the Industrial Age, and you can gain first-hand insights on how we handled our problems then, and from there gain ideas about how we can handle problems today — or even avoid them. History can be a great teacher!

Learn all about ProQuest Historical Newspapers Graphical Edition, or any of our other extensive ProQuest resource collections by joining the ProQuest Training and Consulting team in a free public webinar. If we haven’t listed the class you’re interested in, just contact us and we’ll be happy to make arrangements to meet with you directly.

Star Wars Day: May the 4th Be with You

Lego Star Wars Stormtroopers

Lego Star Wars Stormtroopers by Andrew Martin [Public Domain], via Pixabay

Since the Beginning: Librarians and Star Wars

The first organized Star Wars Day celebration occurred on May 4, 2011, at the Toronto Underground Cinema in Canada. However, librarians — experts in tapping into popular culture as a way of reaching out to their patrons — have been holding Star Wars events long before this date.

Shortly after the film series began in 1977, libraries began offering Star Wars-themed reading programs, film screenings, children’s shows and other events. For example, a quick search in ProQuest’s Historical Newspapers reveals that, in the summer of 1978, La Mesa Library of the San Diego, California, County Library, offered children a space-theme series with a film screening of Hardware Wars, a Star Wars spoof.

ProQuest Historical Newspaper article screencap

Screencap of a ProQuest Historical Newspaper article from the July 13, 1978, edition of the Los Angeles Times

Here’s another ProQuest’s Historical Newspaper article from 1979,  detailing a Star Wars reading program for children by Terryville Public Library in Terryville, Connecticut.

star wars reading program

Screencap of a ProQuest Historical Newspaper article from the June 26, 1979, edition of The Hartford Courant

Star Wars Day in Libraries Today

West Regional Library Staff Celebrate Star Wars

West Regional Library Staff Pose with a Stormtrooper. (Photo used with permission by Wake County Public Libraries, Raleigh, NC)

star wars pancake

Yummy Darth Vader Pancake made with PancakeBot. (Photo used with permission by Xenia Community Library)

Librarians and libraries everywhere continue to offer a host of Star Wars programs and events. Here are three such happenings going on:

Cameron Village Regional Library Staff Celebrate Star Wars

Cameron Village Regional Library Staff and a Stormtrooper. (Photo used with permission by Wake County Public Libraries, Raleigh, NC.)

Moraga Library in Moraga, California, is hosting a Star Wars Day event for kids and teens from 4:00 – 6:00 pm today. Event goers, who are encouraged to come costumed as a favorite Star Wars character, can make origami Star Wars figures, watch a movie and more.

Wake County Public Libraries in Raleigh, North Carolina, are having a Star Wars Fest for all ages at Cameron Village Library, North Regional Library, West Regional Library,and other libraries across Wake County.  The festivities will include a screening of The Clone Wars, crafts, activities, and Star-Wars themed books. Some libraries will be holding events later in the week. Check out the website for registration and information.

Xenia Community Library in Xenia, Ohio, is offering an assortment of Star Wars crafts and activities from 4:00-5:00 pm today. According to Head Librarian Kevin Delecki, they will be making buttons, creating Death Stars with cupcake liners and coffee filters, and designing Star Wars-themed pancakes with their PancakeBot (You can read more about PancakeBot here: PancakeBot producing food, opportunities).

Star Wars Origami

Star Wars Origami. (Photo used with permission by Moraga Library, Moraga, CA.)

Activities, Party Ideas & Lesson Plans

Whether you’re a teacher or a librarian (or both!), here are six links to Star Wars-themed activities, party ideas and lesson plans perfect for Star Wars Day, Star Wars Reads Day or any time throughout the year.

Lesson Plan | Teaching ‘Star Wars’ With The New York Times

Library-Star Wars Reads Day Party Ideas

NASA: Star Wars Day Shareables

Star Wars in the Classroom

Star Wars Program Ideas

Star Wars Reads Day Program Ideas

 Fun Facts

* The Star Wars character Maz Kanata, introduced in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is based on a high school English teacher named Rose Gilbert.

* Diehard fans continue their celebrations on May 5th, Revenge of the Fifth Day, a play on Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. On this day, fans release their inner Sith and celebrate the Dark Side.

*May the force be with you” was first uttered by General Jan Dodonna to the rebel troops in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.

* Star Wars featured a librarian, Jedi Master Jocasta Nu, in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones (2002) and in the video game adaption of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith (2005).

* Historians at the British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts Department revealed a Yoda-like image in a medieval manuscript of canon law now known as the Smithfield Decretals.

Share with Us!

Does your library or classroom hold Star Wars Day events or activities? If so, let us know what you’re doing in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

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