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Using SIRS Issues Researcher to Teach Vocabulary Development

By Jamie Gregory, Media Specialist, James F. Byrnes High School, Duncan, SC

To me, the best part about anticipating the start of a new school year is that nothing has happened yet. The entire year is a blank slate. Time is all yours. So why not plan to implement a research-based strategy this year that you know will work?

I am a long-time supporter of ProQuest databases. I was formerly an English teacher at the same high school where I am now one of two media specialists, and even before I arrived at my school back then, my media center subscribed to ProQuest resources. We are long-time believers!

My colleague Karen Hill and I have noticed that due to the implementation of technology over the past five years, students need a much different research skills set that we are not always providing them with the opportunities to learn. For example, not all databases use the same interface. Different keywords may be used to retrieve information on the same subjects. Does the database return PDF files of full-text articles? Abstracts? Is the keyword search more useful than the subject search? How do I save the article I want to use?

Vocabulary As a Research Skill

In my opinion, however, one of the most basic and important research skills is vocabulary. What are the words I should use to describe the information I want to find? Without a complex and prolific vocabulary, students won’t even be aware of the information they can’t find. It’s a librarian’s dream to teach these skills, to be sure, but for teachers, it often seems even more overwhelming on top of demands to teach content area information.

However, we as media specialists are continually striving to share ideas with teachers about how to embed information literacy skills into any content area.

Image Courtesy of Jamie Gregory

Use of a Keyword Log 

In search of ideas, this past February, I read “Doubling Up: authentic vocabulary development through the inquiry process” by Leslie Maniotes and Anita Cellucci published in the February 2017 issue of Teacher Librarian. Maniotes and Cellucci are two researchers involved in the development of the Guided Inquiry Design model, based on research conducted by Carol Kuhlthau. When I saw this article and read the first paragraph, one word came to mind: genius! I knew I wanted to implement the keyword log introduced in the article because it would be a useful step forward in encouraging students to develop and refine vocabulary skills necessary to the research process.

Image Courtesy of Jamie Gregory

Students use the keyword log as a method of self-reflection by recording each information search. Students record their progress when they discover new and different search terms; by recording the results of each search, they will learn which databases and which search terms provided them with the best information they needed. The process of using the keyword log begins with students using databases to find information.

We primarily use the SIRS Issues Researcher database with students. When first introducing students to SIRS, we show them how the issues marked with an asterisk indicate that it is a main category that will contain a list of related issues with essential questions, which helps with topic selection.

Military Ethics Main Category in SIRS Issues Researcher

We also show students that when they click on an essential question to view the topic page, they can also view additional critical thinking questions to help guide their topic selection.

Critical Thinking & Analysis Questions in SIRS Issues Researcher

Once students have conducted an information search, we show them the related search terms feature. It’s super easy to search related subject terms for vocabulary development, especially for students who don’t know too much about their topic. The subject terms are listed at the end of each article, which students can click on.

Subjects in Results List in SIRS Issues Researcher

The image below is a sample of some searches I performed during whole-class instruction after introducing the keyword log. It’s not perfect and it’s pretty simple, but that’s the scaffolding I needed to provide with this particular group of students.

Image Courtesy of Jamie Gregory

The students I worked with to use the keyword log when beginning their research all responded that it was a useful tool. They responded in a survey at the end of the unit that they learned search terms they previously didn’t know, using the keyword log helped get “all of the junky results out of the way,” it showed them what not to do when searching in the future, and it helped them keep track of their research.

Try Something New This Year

So this year, try something new that has been proven to work. The SIRS Issues Researcher database is an essential tool in implementing the keyword log because of its incredibly user-friendly interface, and the features it offers helps educators develop information literacy skills that students will be able to apply across all disciplines.

 

Jamie Gregory taught high school English and French for 8 years before completing the MLIS degree from the University of South Carolina. She is beginning her 5th year working as a high school media specialist at James F. Byrnes High School in Duncan, SC.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Wonderful Ways to Connect with Other Teacher Librarians Throughout the Month

ConnectionsBy Shannon McClintock Miller, Teacher Librarian, Featured Blogger

My days are filled with connections.

We are a district of approximately 600 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. All of our students, teachers, and administrators are in one building filled with learning, noise, and a whole lot of fun. I connect with the children within the library and throughout our school. These are my favorite connections and I cherish each one of them as we learn, create, and grow together. I also connect with teachers within my building and parents throughout our community.

The students, teachers and I connect with teachers, librarians and classrooms, authors, illustrators, experts, publishers, and others around the world using Skype, Google Hangout, and other digital tools. I connect with educators and librarians within my state and world through phone calls, emails, and social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. We have created an amazing network of teacher librarians, which includes mentorship, collaboration and especially friendship. I love what this has brought to all of us and we are always so welcoming to new friends who join our personal learning networks too.

There are several events and places that I would like to highlight and encourage you to connect with as well. I promise there is something for everyone within these different communities and events.

tlchat#TLChat

Twitter is my main place to connect with others so it is only natural that I mention #TLChat first. #TLChat is a 24/7 conversation with teacher librarians all over the world who are sharing what is happening in their libraries, connecting for special projects, sharing celebrations, books, digital tools and technologies, and so much more. By using this hashtag, you are instantly connecting with wonderful teacher librarians and new friends. When you are in #TLChat on the Twitter website, you can even view all of the photos that have been tweeted and shared within #TLChat too. I love looking here because I see the photos and ideas that I might have missed before.

My amazing friend Joyce Valenza wrote Let’s Start #TLChat in April 2013 on her Neverending Search blog on the School Library Journal website. This community and conversation has been growing ever since. From this hashtag, three more communities have started.

TL Virtual Cafe

The first is TL Virtual Cafe. TL Virtual Cafe is a live webinar within Blackboard Collaborate. You can find the link on the wiki and also it is shared via Twitter and Facebook each month. TL Virtual Cafe is the 1st Monday of the month at 8:00pm EST. As this image from the TL Virtual Cafe wiki states….The TL Virtual Cafe is committed to creating conversations about teacher-librarians, educational technology, and collaborative connections to facilitate meaningful and lifelong learning skills.

Back-To-School Special: The Back-To-School Special was the first TL Virtual Cafe event this year. You can check out the archive on the wiki page for this webinar. Gwyneth, Tiffany, and Jennifer did such an incredible job….It was one fun filled hour you must check out. The archive of the September 16th….Back-To-School Follow Up from TLCafe webinar can be found here.

Monthly #TLChat 

The 2nd Monday of each month at 8:00pm EST is #TLChat…..a high energy hour of wonderful connecting and sharing on Twitter. Each month there is a topic and several teacher librarians contributing to the conversation.

Schedule

 

TL News Night

News Night

The newest event is TL News Night. It is on the 3rd Monday of each month at 8:00pm EST. TL News Night is held with a Google Hangout that is LIVE. The six TL News Night Anchors are from all grade levels and different parts of the country, which add an interesting and unique perspective to the conversation. On September 23rd, we hosted the very first TL News Night. You can access the archive here. It was so much fun and really nice to recap our month within these communities during TL News Night.

So as you can see, no matter what you are interested in, no matter where you live, no matter what type of librarian you are, there is always a conversation and community just for you. These free professional development opportunities have connected me to other teacher librarians and educators. Even though I am the only teacher librarian at Van Meter School, I am constantly surrounded by colleagues, mentors, and friends.

We can’t wait to have you join us. Please check out the websites I have mentioned for what is coming up in October and reach out to me on Twitter @shannonmmiller or anyone mentioned above if you have questions or need a friend to start with.


Shannon

Shannon McClintock Miller is the district teacher librarian at Van Meter Community School, Iowa. She encourages her students to have a voice while learning, creating, collaborating, and connecting to others within their school and around the world.

Featured bloggers spotlight education professionals who are friends of ProQuest and Share This mission to provide solutions for lifelong learning. If you would like to be a featured blogger, we would love to hear from you! Contact Christie Riegelhaupt, Supervising Editor, to get started.

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