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Posts Tagged ‘common core state standards’

Equip Middle School Students As Critical Thinkers

Critical Thinking

Junior High Critical Thinking Poster
Image by Enokson via Flickr is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Middle school students have no lack of opinions regarding clothes, music, movies and their friends. The chatter of the school hallways brims with their opinions. But do they know how to craft an argument? Do they know how to state a claim and cite evidence? The distinction between persuasive opinion and an evidence-based argument is essential for their future.

After all, culture offers a steady stream of opinions and claims. Social media, advertisements, political campaigns and even their peers give students messages 24/7 on what they should look like, act like and live like in order to achieve the best life. To make effective decisions in college and career, students must learn how to be critical thinkers.

The Common Core State Standards agree and state that students starting in middle school need to be able to craft and interpret arguments in writing and speaking.

Many types of assignments support these skills. Whether you are teaching students to use critical thinking skills in a class discussion, pro/con debate or an argument paper, try topics that are already important to students to spark their interest like Cell Phones in School, Cyberbullying or Homework.

Then provide them a critical thinking toolkit so they can unpack the issue and analyze it from all sides. Include in the toolkit an overview of the topic, key terms, and definitions, an essential question, examples of viewpoints, a compelling image for visual literacy, and questions for analyses.

You can find all the above in ProQuest SIRS Discoverer’s  pro/con feature. Pro/Con Leading Issues is specifically created for research and English Language Arts (ELA) writing requirements with topic-related materials to guide the student. See any of the 55 age-appropriate topics.

proconleadingissues

ProQuest SIRS Discoverer’s Pro/Con Leading Issues

 

What topics spark your students’ interest that we could add to our Pro/Con feature? Let us know in comments or tweet at #ProQuest.

Find Primary Sources in ProQuest’s Guided Research Resources

Educators need to prepare students with information literacy and learning skills for college and the global marketplace. Common Core State Standards address this need through an emphasis on students’ ability to read and understand informational text. Standards require students to learn how to analyze text, make inferences, cite evidence, interpret vocabulary, and determine authoritative sources.

As students learn how to analyze sources, primary sources are key tools to help them learn to ask questions, think critically, and draw conclusions based on evidence.

ProQuest’s suite of Guided Research resources is your solution to prepare students to think critically with a wealth of primary and secondary sources.

ProQuest Research Companion

 

Start with ProQuest Research Companion to access 80+ short videos, nine learning modules, and assessment quizzes to teach students everything they need to know to be information literate and ready to research. For a lesson on primary sources, use this short video on primary and secondary sources.


 CultureGrams

CultureGrams Interview

Interview transcript of Hawa from Djibouti.
Image via CultureGrams.

CultureGrams is a primary source product with editions (World, States, Kids, and Provinces) that offer profiles of countries, U.S. states, and Canadian provinces. CultureGrams editors recruit native or long-term residents of the target culture to serve as writers and/or reviewers for each report, ensuring all reports are first-hand accounts and therefore primary sources. Also see supplementary features that provide more primary source material through photos, videos, interviews, statistics, and recipes.


 eLibrary

platform shoes

Video clip from 1973 chronicles the fashion “craze” of the platform shoe
and warns of the shoe’s dangers to feet and legs.
Source: MPI Video via ProQuest eLibrary

Besides a treasure trove of secondary sources and editor-created Research Topics, eLibrary offers collections of primary sources. A History in Documents (Oxford University Press) present a mixture of textual and visual primary source documents. MPI Videos provide insights into topics as diverse as world affairs, fashion, sports, and the arts from various periods in the twentieth century. And the Getty Historical Image collection highlights hundreds of iconic images from the twentieth century.


SIRS Issues Researcher

Primary sources can be narrowed in the results list. Image via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher.

SIRS Issues Researcher is the premier source for background and analysis of nearly 350 Leading Issues. Analysis and background include primary sources. Start with the SIRS Common Core Guide: Understanding Primary Sources, the step-by-step activity guide to help students analyze primary sources. Every search result can be narrowed by primary sources to find historical documents, speeches, editorial cartoons, and more.


 SIRS Discoverer

editorial cartoons

In the News, a monthly editorial cartoon feature in Spotlight of the Month
Image via ProQuest SIRS Discoverer.

As an online reference source for elementary and middle school, SIRS Discoverer offers primary and secondary sources at a lower reading level than SIRS Issues Researcher, its sister product. Each document is hand-selected at an appropriate Lexile level for its target audience. Access historical primary source maps, graphs, and images in the graphics tab of any search. Find engaging editorial cartoons in the activities section, through search, and via the Spotlight of the Month.

Contact us for more information on how these Guided Research resources can fill your primary source needs or sign up for one of our free monthly webinars.

6 Reasons Why Editorial Cartoons Are an Essential Teaching Tool

“One strong editorial cartoon is worth a hundred solemn editorials.”
—William Zinsser, On Writing Well

daily-paper-464015_1920

CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay

My seventh-grade social studies teacher gave extra credit to students who brought in editorial cartoons for class discussions. Luckily for me, stacks of newspapers were common in my house. My father was a printing-press operator and a newspaper addict. We got three newspapers daily and sometimes more when my father couldn’t resist a newsstand. So I got a lot of extra credit that year.

Editorial cartoons are all that I remember from that class. My newspaper monopoly aside, I remember being captivated by grown-up cartoons and wanted to understand them, which is how I became interested in current events and issues. I still get excited when I see editorial cartoons. An astute cartoon is an oasis in a wit-starved world.

To celebrate our new Editorial Cartoons Curriculum Guide, here are six reasons why editorial cartoons are an enduring curriculum essential.

Why do you think editorial cartoons are an essential teaching tool?

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter #ProQuest or in the comments below.

ProQuest editors are continually adding editorial cartoons to ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher. Don’t have it? Request a trial.

The Common Core:
Repealed in Name Only

_______________________________________________________

Forty-two states and the District of Columbia are currently participating in the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS). Most states quickly adopted the CCSS after they were introduced in 2010. Since then, however, public opinion has turned dramatically against the CCSS. According to the 2015 EdNext Survey, 35% of Americans oppose the CCSS, which is up from 26% in 2014. The same poll found that 50% of teachers oppose the CCSS, up substantially from 40% in 2014. Repealing the adoption of the CCSS is becoming increasingly popular, particularly among politicians. So what does all this mean for testing and standards? Is this the end for the Common Core?

States are quickly withdrawing from multi-state, Common Core-aligned tests. Out of the two federally funded Common Core testing consortia (the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), PARCC, in particular, has seen a dramatic decline in participation. In 2010, 25 states and the District of Columbia were PARCC members. That number has fallen to seven, with Massachusetts being the most recent state to abandon the test. Massachusetts, like many other states that have dropped PARCC, will create its own test. Standardized testing is here to stay, but the CCSS’s goal of uniform, multi-state tests aimed at providing meaningful comparisons between states looks destined to fail.

Efforts to repeal the CCSS altogether have also gained traction, but a closer look at the replacement standards tells another story. Oklahoma, Indiana, and South Carolina have all repealed the CCSS. Other states have tweaked and even renamed their standards. However, critics argue that many states are simply renaming the CCSS, keeping the majority of standards intact.  South Carolina’s new standards, for instance, are aligned with CCSS 90% of the time. In other words, lawmakers are pivoting away from the politically charged Common Core moniker, but Common Core-aligned standards remain.

The takeaway: the CCSS are being repealed in name only.

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Do you and your students want to learn more about the education policy debate?

Check out SIRS Issues Researcher for more information.

 

 

Teaching World Cultures: Three ProQuest Resources

Why Study Culture?

“In today’s world, understanding both our similarities and our diversity becomes increasingly important. Through an understanding and appreciation of cultural difference, children will be better prepared to live in an ever-shrinking global community. And increasingly, our classrooms are becoming miniature models of the global community itself.”—Nancy Jervis, Ph.D., China Institute

The quote above shows just how vital it is for students to study culture.

Students need to be prepared for our increasingly interdependent, globalized and networked world. Migration and immigration are causing societies to become more culturally and linguistically diverse.  The nature of the workforce is changing as globalization continues to level the playing field for workers worldwide.  And many of today’s issues—ranging from climate change to public health to terrorism–have a global dimension, requiring people to work with others from different cultures and nations to solve such problems.

In the introduction to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the authors identify the understanding of other perspectives and cultures as an essential feature for college and career readiness. Common Core Standards require students to read a variety of literature and informational texts and encourage a focus on deep research by asking students to gather information from multiple resources.

Below, I highlight three ProQuest resources to help meet CCSS literacy requirements and to develop increased cultural awareness in your students so that they are equipped for college and career.

Three ProQuest Resources:

1. CultureGrams contains primary and secondary source cultural content for more than 160 countries. There are four editions: the World Edition (for students in middle school and up) and the Kids, States, and Canadian Provinces editions (for students in upper elementary school).  Each country contains up-to-date information on the people and their customs and courtesies as well as facts on lifestyle (housing, diet, recreation, etc.) and society (government, economy, education, etc.).  Students can access interviews, videos, recipes, graphs, maps and more. The Curriculum Standards PDF shows all the of the national standards met or developed by each CultureGrams product.

Argentina

Screenshot of Argentina in CultureGrams

2. SIRS Issues Researcher contains a World Cultures Leading Issue with articles on multiple perspectives to help students with their research. The World Cultures Leading Issues, along with the hundreds of other Leading Issues, are crafted to help students analyze and synthesize a wide variety of resources and present a cogent argument.  Perfect for debates or papers covering more than one side to an issue, each sub issue contains an essential question with supporting pro/con articles.

World Cultures Leading Issue

Screenshot of World Cultures Leading Issue, SIRS Issues Researcher.

3. eLibrary has hundreds of culturally-relevant Research Topic pages, including ones on indigenous peoples, religious groups, ethnic foods, as well as many on literature and the arts, such as haiku and folk dance. These pages contain links to editorially-selected articles and websites as well as a trove of primary source documents, videos and images.  Here is a sampling of the type of eLibrary Research Topic pages relevant to the study of culture:

eLibrary Research Topic Pages

Collage of screenshots of three eLibrary Research Topic pages

How to Find Research Topic Pages:

Students can find these pages via keyword search or by clicking on the following link on the search page in eLibrary:

Research Topics link on the Basic Search page

Screenshot of eLibrary link to list of Research Topics

Tell Us What You’re Doing!

Are you using ProQuest to help your students learn about different cultures? Did you create a lesson plan using one of our products? If so, we’d love to here about it! Let us know in the comment box below.

 

Controversial Common Core Testing Begins Nationwide

Turn student anger and frustration over standardized testing into a learning opportunity.

Image by Alberto G. via Flickr Is Licensed Under CC BY 2.0

Image by Alberto G. via Flickr Is Licensed Under CC BY 2.0

Testing Begins

Standardized testing is impacting millions of American students right now. The 2015 Common Core testing season has begun. The Associated Press reports that “about 12 million students in 29 states and the District of Columbia” will be taking the Common Core-aligned exams by the end of the 2015 school year. As standardized testing sweeps across the United States, students are paying close attention to this long contentious Leading Issue.

Rocky Road

Research Topic: Standardized Testing in Education by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest eLibrary

Research Topic: Standardized Testing in Education
by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest eLibrary

Protests. Opt outs. Cyber attacks. The Common Core-aligned, high-stakes assessment testing has gotten off to a rocky start. Last week, students in New Mexico staged walkouts to protest the exams. A growing number of parents and students nationwide are choosing to “opt out.” And school districts in Florida had to postpone testing because of computer glitches, which are being blamed on cyber attacks. Many students have become angry and frustrated.

Learning Opportunity

SIRS Leading Issue: Educational Tests and Measurements by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

SIRS Leading Issue: Educational Tests and Measurements
by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

Standardized testing demonstrates to students how public policy affects them directly. Why not turn students’ anger and frustration into a learning opportunity? Lead classroom discussions on the pros and cons of standardized testing. Have students defend their arguments in writing. Publish their arguments in the student newspaper or on social media. Encourage them to find ways to affect change democratically. The main objective is to get students involved in this important leading issue.

What do you and your students think about standardized testing? Comment below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.

For more resources, check out SIRS Issues Researcher and eLibrary.