Archive for the ‘SIRS Knowledge Source’ Category
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
This is Greece!
“Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers….Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.”
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964
The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, a man who spent his life promoting nonviolent methods of social change to end segregation and discrimination and help African Americans gain their civil rights, was himself a victim of violence when he was assassinated outside his Memphis hotel room on the evening of April 4, 1968. Four days later, Michigan Congressman John Conyers introduced the first legislation providing for a Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday to honor King’s life and achievements. Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, headed the mission to rally popular support for a King Holiday. She worked for years, testifying before Congress, launching petition drives, and urging governors, mayors, and chairpersons of city councils across the U.S. to pass resolutions to honor her husband’s birthday on January 15.
While some individual states passed laws honoring Dr. King with a legal holiday, the idea of a federal holiday faced opposition and stirred controversy. Finally, in 1983, the legislation declaring the third Monday in January a federal legal holiday commemorating Dr. King’s birthday was signed by President Ronald Reagan. It was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986, though many states continued to boycott the holiday. It was not until 1999 that New Hampshire became the last state to make it a paid state holiday.
The only federal holiday commemorating an African-American is now celebrated each year as a remembrance of Dr. King’s life and work, and with people joining together to honor the civil rights leader’s memory through volunteer service to make an impact on their local and global communities.
You can learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the King Holiday by visiting these websites, available through SIRS Issues Researcher:
How do you ring in the New Year? 62 percent of Americans say they stay home on New Year’s Eve, spending it with family and friends, 22% admit to falling asleep before midnight, while around 10% don’t celebrate the holiday at all. Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, watching fireworks displays and making resolutions for the new year. While 45% of Americans make resolutions, only about 8% achieve them. Many people commemorate the arrival of the New Year with a champagne toast, judging by the 360 million glasses of sparkling wine that are consumed in the U.S. each year during the holiday season. Around a million people crowd into New York City’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve to watch the iconic lighted ball drop–joined by nearly 6 in 10 Americans and a billion others globally who view all or some of the televised broadcast of the festivities.
On New Year’s Day, many American cities hold parades. Since 1906, the people of Philadelphia have celebrated the New Year with a parade that features 15,000 Mummers in colorful and lavish costumes who dance, spin and twirl down Broad Street after a year of secret planning. This year marks the 126th Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, which includes floral floats and marching bands and is viewed by over 80 million people around the world. The average float contains more flowers than a typical American florist will sell in five years, with up to 18 million flowers used to create all the floats that appear in the parade.
SIRS Knowledge Source offers editorially-selected and credible internet resources on vital issues and topics. You can search for sites by keyword/natural language, subject headings, or topic. Check out some of the sites below to find more information on the history and traditions of the New Year’s holiday.
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It is Native American Heritage Month.
What does this mean? How do we commemorate? I’ve seen signs in schools announcing this yearly celebration, and I’ve perused displays in libraries. I’ve noted local museums’ native-themed exhibits. Classrooms may spend time learning about the history of Native Americans. Young students may take part in creating a native-themed craft; older students may be tasked with researching an eminent Native American or the history of a Native American tribe. Adults may seek out drum circles, powwows, native chanting experiences, and herbal medicine discussions.
This year, perhaps above all else, we can honor Native American Heritage Month by learning about and discussing the current protests at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.
The tribes of the Great Sioux Nation, at the center of this controversy, came together at Standing Rock to oppose the $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which would cut across the land of the Standing Rock Sioux and possibly threaten their water supply. Other Native American tribes and many of non-native descent joined in the protests. Large-scale demonstrations began a few months ago, in August, when activists blocked the pipeline’s construction sites at Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The protests have grown and have become increasingly violent. But the opposition remains strong. In a September press release, Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman David Archambault II stated that the pipeline will “destroy our burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts.”
The Dakota Access pipeline, approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in July, would tap into the Bakken Formation, an oil deposit that spans five U.S. states and into Canada. It could provide more than 7 billion barrels of oil to the United States, reducing the country’s reliance on foreign oil. Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based natural gas and propane company, claims that the pipeline would help the states that are impacted, providing up to 12,000 construction jobs and bringing more than $150 million in revenue.
As Americans, it is important that we acknowledge the events and people at Standing Rock. As researchers, teachers, and students, it is also important that we explore both sides of the issue. SIRS Knowledge Source and its Leading Issues feature, which includes such topics as Keystone Pipeline and Indigenous Peoples, explores the controversy.
For further research…
Check out this timeline of events prior to and since the first physical collision of interests in August.
Get an overview of the viewpoints of proponents and opponents.
Consider the implications of those who are funding the pipeline.
Read about the history the land of the Standing Rock Sioux.
The Spanish language is an integral part of the American experience.
According to the 2011 Pew Research Center’s American Community Survey, Spanish is the main language spoken in more than 37 million homes. According to the 2012 U.S. Census, Hispanic Americans comprised 17% of the country’s population–53 million people.
How do the more than 16,000 public libraries across the United States serve this culturally rich community?
There are numerous ways that public libraries can find the fiscal support, cultural materials, and language expertise necessary to successfully serve their diverse Spanish-language-speaking communities. In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated each year in the U.S. from September 15 through October 15, let’s take a look at some.
The American Library Association offers a comprehensive overview to librarians and media specialists who seek to initiate services to Spanish-language-speaking populations or to build upon their existing resources. Visit Guidelines for Library Services to Spanish-Speaking Library Users for an overview of collection development and selection; cultural programming and outreach; the value of personnel training and development; and the significance of collection placement.
The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking (REFORMA) was established in 1986 with the purpose of providing educational, charitable, and programming outreach to Hispanic American librarians and to libraries wanting to serve the Spanish-speaking population.
The REFORMA site provides extensive online resources for libraries, including a Spanish-English dictionary, Spanish-language brochures and flyers, and storytime materials. The organization offers awards and recognition to libraries and holds events and conferences on Spanish-language literature and in support of outreach to Spanish-language communities.
Spanish in Our Libraries (SOL), although no longer being published, is now an archive of valuable information. This electronic newsletter helped to connect librarians and media specialists serving their libraries’ Spanish-speaking communities.
Public Libraries Using Spanish (PLUS) is a growing searchable database that provides libraries with documents necessary for any library to serve its Spanish-language communities. Find printable card applications, signs, programming information, and more, written in Spanish with English translations. The site’s owner is accessible by email and asks for users to share their comments, experiences, and document submissions.
WebJunction is an online learning community for librarians. The organization offers knowledge and support in many areas of librarianship: leadership and communication, staff training, library services, technology, and programming.
One facet of WebJunction is its Spanish Language Outreach (SLO) Program. Case studies, webinars, and materials (such as an action plan template and checklists) assist libraries in creating, maintaining, and growing Spanish language collections, services and programming, and outreach. Text to the site’s Spanish Language Outreach Workshop Curriculum–including a PowerPoint presentation and a resource packet–offers in-depth instruction and support to librarians and media specialists.
These sites are only some of the resources available to public libraries serving, or looking to serve, their Spanish language communities–communities that are integral to the advancement of our nation and its libraries.
SIRS Knowledge Source and SIRS Discoverer commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month each year by spotlighting the history of and the news, events, and issues affecting this vibrant and diverse population. Find articles, timelines, photos, and more.
Explore the benefits:
- A cleaner, more streamlined, and modern appearance
- Design optimized for viewing on mobile devices as well as desktops (i.e. responsive design)
- Focus on the most valued content and features
- Integration with Google Drive and Google Classroom
- Design aligned to other popular ProQuest products like CultureGrams and SIRS Discoverer
- Continued access to all the great SIRS content
See the 13 New Leading Issues out of 345+ added by our editorial team covering complex social topics:
- Biological and Chemical Terrorism
- Concealed Weapons
- Concussions in Sports
- Conflict Minerals
- Education Reform
- Executive Pay
- Government Ethics
- Indigenous Peoples
- Islamic State Group (ISIS)
- Religion and Science
- Religious Minorities
As evidenced by these tweets, educators are excited about the new integration between SIRS and Google Drive and Classroom!
For more details about the interface update, visit the SIRS Issues Researcher support page.
Share the good news with your colleagues! Tweet about the new SIRS Knowledge Source @ProQuest.
President Obama’s Legacy
Every president leaves behind a legacy and becomes part of the classroom history lessons and discussions for future generations.
In 2008, Barack Obama was elected as the President of the United States. He arrived during a time of anger and brewing uncertainty in the U.S. His campaign slogans ranged from Hope and Yes We Can! in 2008 to Forward in 2012. Did his accomplishments live up to his campaign promises? Only time will tell how historians will view the Obama presidency and whether he indeed brought hope and a positive impact on the country he served.
In the meantime, students can study the impact of the Obama administration by evaluating his impact in key areas: the economy, health care, environment, culture, and education.
When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, he entered a country in the midst of a global financial crisis that lasted from 2007-2009 with lingering after-effects. Jobs were lost and big banks were in trouble. Some economists argued the financial crisis was the worst one since the 1930s Great Depression. Under President Obama, “15 million private sector jobs” were added as of August 2016 according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This period of job growth, a total of 77 months thus far, is a record for the United States. Legislation has also been put into place that helps the middle class and low-income families while stimulating financial growth.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted by President Obama on March 23, 2010. While it has received much criticism, there have been some clear benefits to this statute. The Affordable Care Act prevents health insurers from denying or charging more for coverage based on a pre-existing condition. Pre-existing conditions could be diabetes, cancer or a range of others. Read more about pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act here. Also, this law has made it possible for many more people to get health insurance. Only non-citizens and people who are incarcerated can be denied health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Some critics have argued against President Obama’s Affordable Care Act due to its high premiums and tax penalties.
Environment and Culture
An area of differentiation in President Obama’s second presidential term compared with his first has been his tireless use of the Antiquities Act of 1906. President Obama has repeatedly used the Antiquities Act to preserve ecological areas and protect cultural as well as historical sites. You can read more about these accomplishments here in a 2015 Washington Post article.
“Obama has established or expanded 19 national monuments for a total of more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters, more than any previous president.” — Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post
Also, President Obama has emphasized the importance of acknowledging and addressing climate change. His Action Plan for protecting the planet offers insight into the effects extreme weather is having on the world. His plan also targets ways to limit carbon pollution, which is vital to the planet’s future.
A major misconception about the widely discussed education initiative known as the Common Core State Standards is that it was led by the Obama administration, but this is not so. While Obama supports this initiative it was actually led by U.S. states, many of which opted to adopt these standards on their own. More about the Common Core State Standards can be read here. Some of President Obama’s education initiatives have been:
- Race to the Top: Encouraging states to spur education reform so that teachers and students can succeed.
- Reforming No Child Left Behind: Intended to close the achievement gap and bring education standards up-to-date.
- Redesign Initiative: An initiative designed to improve high schools and incorporate college-level coursework as well as career-related experiences/competencies into daily education.
- Funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Providing states and school districts with emergency funding needed to keep more teachers in the classroom.
- ConnectED Initiative: This initiative aims to bring the best technology and training to students and classrooms.
What is the Obama legacy?
Your students can research and gather the evidence themselves. Point them to SIRS Knowledge Source for a wealth of information on the past eight years of the Obama administration.
The United States Constitution is considered to be “the supreme law of the land.” And it has been for more than two centuries. No small feat for a document uniting the ideas of nationhood, independence, defense, general welfare, and all sorts of liberties.
This document certainly was not created alone.
Many people contributed to the development, shaping, and writing of the U.S. Constitution. Those who had the most significant impact on its outcome are considered to be the U.S. Founding Fathers (remember that this was the 18th century–women, such as Abigail Adams, influenced the Constitution, but through their husbands…a blog post for another day).
With all of the hullabaloo around the upcoming presidential election, and with all of the recent discussions on and controversies around gun rights and women’s rights and immigrants’ rights and LGBTQ rights and criminal rights and voting rights…, let’s take a listen to what some of our Founding Fathers have said about the U.S. Constitution.
“The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.”–George Washington (1732-1799)
George Washington is considered by many to be the “father of the country.” He was, after all, the nation’s first President. He served that office from 1789 to 1797. Prior to that, he was a general in the Revolutionary War and is considered to have played a pivotal role in leading the American Army to victory.
Our first president was known as a man of few and select words, as embodied by the above quote. He thoughtfully deemed the U.S. Constitution a “guide” to be followed, not the zenith or the ultimate truth.
“Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”–Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States (1801-1809), was a terrible speaker but a terrific writer. He wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, and his input was invaluable to the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.
Jefferson was a lawyer, diplomat, naturalist, architect, educator, statesman, musician, inventor, scientist, geographer…he was fluent in many languages…he supported women’s rights, free public education, and a free library system. All in all, a brilliant and cultured man. He knew government had to be kept in check, and that the general population was essential to maintaining this stability: “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.”
“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government–lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”–Patrick Henry (1736-1799)
Patrick Henry was never president, but he certainly made a name for himself as an orator, lawyer, and politician. He served as first and sixth governor of Virginia, and was instrumental in opposing the Stamp Act of 1765. In fact, he may be most famous for saying, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”
This guy liked freedom.
Henry’s political priorities always aligned with affirming the general population’s rights and well-being. He was consistently against the idea of a strong central government. He initially opposed the idea of a U.S. Constitution, fearing it would jeopardize individual freedoms and state sovereignty. He only became an ardent supporter of the Constitution once the Bill of Rights was added.
Henry wanted the U.S. Constitution to serve as an “instrument” for the people, providing them with the means necessary to maintain their freedoms and hold their government accountable.
“Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.”–James Madison (1751-1836)
James Madison, fourth president of the United States (1809-1817), is considered to be the “father of the Constitution.” He had helped write Virginia’s State Constitution, the model for the U.S. Constitution. Both are grounded in his belief that the United States’ potential would be “derived from the superior power of the people.”
Madison predicted a national crisis if no Constitution was drafted. His advocacy for creating a U.S. Constitution paved the way for the Constitutional Congress.
He understood the importance of understanding and interpreting the context in which the document was written. As the context of the living documents changes, should the Constitution?
“It is every American’s right and obligation to read and interpret the Constitution for himself.”–Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
Benjamin Franklin’s words could not be more timely.
Franklin–statesman, writer, scientist, philosopher, inventor, political theorist, printer–understood that true freedom in this nation began with freedom to choose for oneself.
Franklin’s highest political office was Minister to France. But as the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention, he had participated in significant events in American history, such as the signing of the peace treaty that ended the Revolutionary War, and the writing of the Declaration of Independence.
As a participant in the signing of the Constitution, Franklin shared an observation that all hoped would be a symbol for the new country. Upon seeing the sun sitting atop George Washington’s chair at the closing of the Constitutional Convention, Franklin said: “I have the happiness to know it is a rising sun and not a setting sun.”
What are your students’ thoughts about the U.S. Constitution? Find resources in SKS and SIRS Discoverer and join us throughout the month of September as we celebrate National Constitution Month.
When the 2016 Summer Olympic games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro in 2009, the Zika virus was not on anyone’s mind. Instead, Rio faced concerns about crime, corruption, pollution and if the Olympic venues would be completed in time. That changed in May 2015 with the confirmation of the first case of Zika in Brazil. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a public health emergency in February 2016 and warned it would continue to spread throughout Latin America and worldwide.
The Zika outbreak raised concerns and fears about the impact on athletes and visitors. In May 2016, a group of doctors and scientists called on the WHO to have an open discussion on the risk of holding the Olympics in Brazil. The WHO declined the request and stated postponing, cancelling, or changing the location of the Olympics would not alter the spread of the Zika virus. A number of athletes pulled out of the Olympics citing concerns over Zika. However, for many athletes, their dreams of competing in the Olympic games outweighed the potential risks of contracting the Zika virus.
Now that the Games have ended and athletes and tourists have returned to their home countries, questions remain over the long-term effects of Zika. How many people were infected with the virus? Will they transmit the virus worldwide? Researchers estimate that for every 100,000 visitors to Rio, only 3 will be infected. But that is just an estimate. Will babies who are born in nine months suffer birth defects related to Zika infection? The world will just have to wait to find out the answers to these questions.
In the meantime, you can turn to SIRS Issues Researcher for in-depth coverage of the Zika virus. Zika is given the Leading Issues treatment and asks users the Essential Question, “Should pregnancy be postponed in areas where Zika is present.” Various viewpoints and background information are provided.
Will you be discussing Zika and the Olympics in your classroom? Comment below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.
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