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Posts Tagged ‘Critical Thinking’

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 accompany our 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.

Let’s Debate…Education Reform

Education reform, particularly federal spending on public education, has been a political hot-button issue since the 1960s. Questions that were asked then are the same that are debated now: Do the funds provided by the Department of Education improve students’ learning environments and opportunities, or do they simply allow states to decrease money allocated to education? Does federal funding advance education in public schools, or does it stifle public schools with regulations and oversight?

Check out Let’s Debate…Education Reform below for an overview of the topic. Also visit the SKS Spotlight of the Month, which explores the 2017-2018 National High School Debate Topic: The United States federal government should substantially increase its funding and/or regulation of elementary and/or secondary education in the United States.

 

TDIH: First “Test-Tube Baby” Born

“I’m not a wizard or a Frankenstein tampering with Nature. We are not creating life.
We have merely done what many people try to do in all kinds of medicine–to help
nature. We found nature could not put an egg and sperm together, so we did it.”
Patrick Steptoe, who with Robert Edwards, perfected in vitro fertilization
of the human egg and delivered the world’s first “test-tube baby.”

In Vitro Fertilization via Pixabay [Public Domain]

It’s hard to imagine now, but when the first baby was born as the result of in vitro fertilization (IVF) on July 25, 1978, it was highly controversial. The birth attracted opposition from scientists and religious leaders, and international media attention. Louise Brown, the world’s first so-called “test tube baby” was conceived in a laboratory and born at Oldham General Hospital in England. The term “test-tube baby” is actually a misnomer, since IVF is usually performed in shallower glass containers called Petri dishes. After the birth was announced, her parents received bags full of hate mail from across the globe, as well as fan letters. While some are still opposed to IVF for ethical and religious reasons, more than 5 million children have been born worldwide through its use. Nearly 68,000 babies were born using IVF methods in the U.S. alone in 2015.

Louise Brown Holding the 1000th Bourn Hall Baby, 1987
Courtesy Bourn Hall Clinic, via National Library of Medicine [CC BY 4.0]

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 10% to 15% of couples in the US are infertile—meaning they are unable to conceive through natural means. The IVF technique was pioneered by two doctors in Cambridge, England–gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and reproductive biologist Robert Edwards. Their research led to the successful fertilization of a human egg outside the body and the transfer of the resulting embryo to the womb of Lesley Brown. A healthy baby girl was delivered to Lesley and her husband John after they had tried unsuccessfully to conceive a child for 15 years using natural methods. Two years later Steptoe and Edwards founded the world’s first IVF clinic, Bourn Hall Clinic, near Cambridge, England. The techniques and drugs now used around the world were first developed there.

Today, despite objections to its use (for example, Catholic hospitals often prohibit doctors from performing basic reproductive services including IVF), it has become much more widely accepted. For the most part, the ethical debate going on now is not so much about IVF itself, but the on the limits or constraints that should be placed on its use. Since the first IVF baby was born only 39 years ago, the long-term risks are not known. If a couple divorces, who gets custody and control of their frozen embryos? IVF enables single women to become mothers, same-sex couples to have a child of their own, and older women who are past menopause to become mothers. (In 2016, a 70-year-old Indian woman became the world’s oldest mother by using IVF.)

The average cost for IVF in the U.S. ranges from $12,000-$15,000 and can go much higher depending on individual circumstances and variables like the mother’s age or whether a surrogate is used. Although some insurance companies cover IVF procedures, many don’t. As a result, only people with the financial means to afford costly assisted reproductive technologies are able to take advantage of them, shutting out lower-income people who also want to become parents.

Screen Cap from SIRS Issues Researcher

Educators, direct your students to the new and updated SIRS Issues Researcher to dig deeper into the topic of Human Reproductive Technology. This Leading Issue explores these issues in-depth by asking users the Essential Question, “Does the use of human reproductive technology challenge the basic ideas of conception?” Background information, a timeline, viewpoint articles, multimedia resources and questions for critical thinking and analysis and are provided. They can also explore these other related Leading Issues:

Anonymous Eggs and Sperm Donation

Genetic Testing

Human Cloning

Stem Cells

Surrogacy

SIRS Issues Researcher supports state, national and international learning standards. Don’t have it? Request a free trial.

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Teaching Activity: Tracing the Effects of Slavery

Frear’s Silk Dept (circa 1882), via Wikimedia Commons

This activity comes from the CultureGrams Teaching Activities PDF, which features more than 70 activities to help teachers make the most of our country, state, and province reports.

Grade level: 9–12

Objective: Students will understand the geographical scope of the slave trade. They will be able to trace some of the lingering socioeconomic and cultural effects of slavery across the world. See the Teaching Activites PDF for Common Core and other national curriculum standards met by this activity.

Time requirement

Preparation: 30 minutes

Monument of the Four Moors, Livorno, Italy, via Wikimedia Commons

In-class: 50 minutes, less if students read selections at home

Materials

CultureGrams World Edition

Helpful maps from UNESCO

Understanding Slavery Initiative (timelines, maps, paintings, and images of artifacts)

Instructions

  1. Explain to the students how, besides being a general atrocity and a personal tragedy for the millions of Africans who were sold as slaves, the African slave trade has had a major effect on the history of the world. Slavery has influenced the historical development and current cultural and socioeconomic conditions of many nations: African nations from which individuals were captured and nations in the Americas to which Africans were brought as
  2. Divide the class in half to form two groups. Have each group read from these selections in class or at home:
Group One Group Two
United States (History) Angola (History)
Antigua and Barbuda (History, Arts, Holidays) Botswana (Religion)
Barbados (History, Language, Arts) Malawi (History)
Haiti (History, Population) Mozambique (History)
St. Lucia (History, Population, Holidays) Senegal (History)
St. Kitts and Nevis (History, Flag description) Sierra Leone (History, Population, Religion)
St. Vincent and the Grenadines (History, Holidays)
  1. Ask the students in Group Two to discuss the circumstances surrounding the African side of the slave trade, in addition to any long-lasting effects it has had on populations or
  2. Ask the students in Group One to discuss the history and cultural impact of slavery in those countries. What did it take to end slavery? What types of economies were created as a result of the slave trade? How did it influence the arts and languages of the Americas?
  3. Have each group prepare a short presentation to share their findings with the other group.
  4. As a class, analyze the Country and Development Data for all of the countries. Which statistics might slavery have influenced and how?

Carving of slave caravan, alternate, Lake Malawi Museum ,by Tim Cowley via Wikimedia Commons

Extension activity

For background information, read the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) report on modern-day slavery (summary of facts below).

  • Almost 21 million people are victims of forced labour – 11.4 million women and girls and 9.5 million men and boys.
  • Almost 19 million victims are exploited by private individuals or enterprises and over 2 million by the state or rebel groups.
  • Of those exploited by individuals or enterprises, 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation.
  • Forced labour in the private economy generates US$ 150 billion in illegal profits per year.
  • Domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment are among the sectors most concerned.
  • Migrant workers and indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to forced labour.

Explain to the class that slavery still exists and briefly discuss the various forms it takes (i.e. child and bonded laborers, sex slaves, domestic servants, agricultural workers, etc.). For homework, instruct students to look up a current event dealing with a form of modern-day slavery, then do a write-up that summarizes the event and analyzes the laws and circumstances that result in continued slavery; they might also compare the effects of modern-day slavery with those of the African slave trade.

In this article, students can put a face to modern descendants of the African slave trade and hear their perspectives.

Promoting Media Literacy: Educators’ Resources

“Never have we had so much information at our fingertips. Whether this bounty will
make us smarter and better informed or more ignorant and narrow-minded
will depend on our awareness of this problem and our educational response to it.”
–From Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning
(published November 22, 2016, by the Stanford History Education Group)

Fake news and media literacy have been hot topics lately. The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2016 was post-truth–an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

How can librarians and educators teach digital and media literacy skills when many have not had formal training or education on these skills themselves?

The Center for Media Literacy in Santa Monica, California, was a pioneer in media literacy education. In 2005, this list of the five core concepts of media literacy was created, along with key questions for each one.

MEDIA LITERACY: CORE CONCEPTS & KEY QUESTIONS

  1. All media messages are constructed. [Who created this message?]
  1. Media messages are constructed using creative language with its own rules. [What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?]
  1. Different people experience the same media message differently. [How might different people understand this message differently from me?]
  1. Media have embedded values and points of view. [What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?]
  1. Most media messages are constructed to gain profit and/or power. [Why is this message being sent?]

This post offers some resources for promoting and teaching media literacy in the digital age. They were largely compiled from two webinars: Teaching Digital Literacy (edWeb) and Information Literacy in the Age of Fake News (School Library Journal).

Triangulation: Verification/Fact-Checking/Hoaxes

Triangulation is defined by Joyce Valenza as trying to “verify or corroborate the information in multiple sources, including traditional media and library databases.”

FactCheck.org: A nonpartisan, nonprofit from the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania that monitors “the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.”

Hoaxy: A tool created by the Observatory on Social Media at Indiana University that visualizes how claims in the news–and fact checks of those claims–spread online through social networks.

Hoax-Slayer: Allows Internet users to check the veracity of a large number of hoaxes. Owned and operated by Brett Christensen.

PolitiFact: An independent fact-checking website created by the Tampa Bay Times newspaper to sort out the truth in American politics. It rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others on its Truth-O-Meter.

Politwoops: Tracks deleted tweets by public officials, including people currently in office and candidates for office. From ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.

Snopes: Founded by David Mikkelson in 1994, the site bills itself as “the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.”

Lesson Plans/Curriculum Resources

Center for News Literacy: Offers a wide range of resources in their Digital Resource Center, including a 14-part curriculum, lesson plans, and a glossary. From Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism.

Checkology® Virtual Classroom: “Teaches students in grades 6-12 how to navigate today’s challenging information landscape by using the core skills and concepts of news literacy through a series of engaging digital experiences that use real-world examples of news and information and guided instruction from journalists and other experts.” From the News Literacy Project.

Media Education Lab: Creates free multimedia curriculum materials to help learners of all ages advance knowledge, skills, and competencies. From the Harrington School of Communication at the University of Rhode Island.

Media Literacy Clearinghouse: Developed by media education consultant Frank W. Baker, this site offers resources and workshops for K-12 educators promoting critical thinking to help students read media messages.

NewseumED: Offers free learning tools on media literacy and our First Amendment freedoms. From the Newseum, an interactive museum in Washington, D.C., that “promotes, explains and defends free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment.”

SchoolJournalism.org: Part of the American Society of News Editors‘ Youth Journalism Initiative, this site presents lesson plans, curriculum resources, articles and research on news, information and media literacy.

Curation

Headline Spot: Find thousands of the best and most useful U.S. and world news sources by media type, subject or location/region.

Kiosko: A visual daily press directory that gives access to the world’s largest news sites and displays a readable image taken from today’s frontpage cover of each newspaper. (Also available in French and Spanish.)

Other Resources

AllSides Dictionary: This resource bills itself as “a human look at hot-button terms from every perspective.” Created by over 30 volunteer mediators and educators who span the socio-political spectrum, it allows users to browse issues and terms as defined across the political bias spectrum.

Community of Online Research Assignments: An open access resource for faculty and librarians, intended to be a collaborative space for adapting and experimenting with research assignments and sharing the success or lessons learned so that others may benefit. Also includes a Teaching Toolkit featuring a wide range of resource types.

The CRAPP Test (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose): A list of questions to help you evaluate the information you find.

The Digital Citizenship Institute: Committed to “promoting social good through the use of social media and technology” by “partnering with districts, schools, parents and organizations to provide a community approach to digital citizenship.” Founder and CEO is Dr. Maryalice Curran.

The Center for Media Literacy: An “educational organization dedicated to promoting and supporting media literacy education that provides leadership, public education, professional development and educational resources nationally and internationally.”

Google Reverse Image Search: Begin your Google search by grabbing and dragging an image to Google Reverse Image Search in order to learn more about where it originated, and where else it is appearing. View a YouTube video of Google Image Downloader by Michelle Luhtala.

Making Sense of the News: Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens:  A six-week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) created by the University of Hong Kong and the State University of New York and offered through Coursera. It seeks to provide learners with “tools that teach you not what to read and consume, but rather how to critically consume information and make yourself more informed and engaged.”

* * *

ProQuest Resources

See our guided research worksheet on How to Identify Fake News in 10 Steps. Also see ProQuest Guided Research products, which equip students to learn information literacy skills. Free trials are available.

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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

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.

Fake News: Teaching Students to Evaluate Sources

In an era where students search for information online via search engines and social media, they need the ability to identify and distinguish reputable sources from deceptive sources. In other words, they need to be able to tell the difference between real and fake news. A November 2016 study from Stanford researchers has concluded that students are not prepared.

Our “digital natives” may be able to flit between Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to evaluating information that flows through social media channels, they are easily duped.--“Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning,” Stanford History Education Group

Source Evaluation Aid Available in ProQuest Research Companion

Source Evaluation Aid Available in ProQuest Research Companion

ProQuest Research Companion is here to help. Equip students with information literacy skills through self-paced learning modules, assessments, and tools such as the Source Evaluation Aid. The embedded video above is an example of the material available in the evaluating sources learning module.

ProQuest’s Guided Research products such as CultureGrams, eLibrary, and SIRS Issues Researcher offer authoritative content that is vetted and packaged for middle and high school students. Besides reliable information and tools, you can also find supplementary handouts to guide students step by step such as the SIRS Issues Researcher: Research Guide for the Critical Thinker.

Don’t have ProQuest Research Companion or other Guided Research products? Request a Free Trial!

CultureGrams Extremes Tables

Can you list the ten largest countries in the world? What about the smallest? Can you name the ten most populous countries? The ten countries with the youngest or oldest populations? Do you know which countries have the most women in parliament or the fewest internet users? What countries have the largest number of airports or the smallest number of physicians per 10,000 people. For answers to these and many other questions, check out CultureGrams Extremes Data Tables. These fascinating tables list top and bottom ten countries in a variety of categories. Links to the tables can be found in the lower portion of the left navigation bar on our Graphs and Tables page.

Extremes Table via ProQuest CultureGrams

But these top ten and bottom ten tables aren’t included merely as a source of geographical  and cultural trivia. They can also foster discussion and critical thinking. Students might be asked to think about why particular countries are on a specific Extremes table and what those countries have in common. For example, what do countries with a low population density have in common? What factors might result in certain countries having high or low life expectancy?

Also, they could discuss the impact of a country being very high or low in a particular category. What impact does it have on a country if it has low public school enrollment or high life expectancy? What effect might an aging population have on a country? What about a very young population?

And another option might be to look at some of the tables and consider how certain data in the tables might be misinterpreted. If one looks at the countries with the highest public spending on education, does that mean that those populations are the best educated? Why or why not?

Although they make up only a small part of the CultureGrams database, the Extremes tables are a tool that will  yield valuable insights to those who are able to think critically about what is revealed in the numbers.