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Posts Tagged ‘Education’

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.

 

There is a Cure for the Summertime Blues

School's Out!

School’s Out Photo via Pixabay [CCO Public Domain]

It’s Summer, and teachers all over the United States are relaxing, going on vacations and otherwise enjoying some much-needed time away. But, sooner or later, educators realize that they need to start preparing for the next semester’s classes. When rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran sang “there ain’t no cure for the Summertime Blues” back in 1958, he had high-school students in mind. Teachers, however, can also experience some blues of their own during the summer months when they begin planning for the coming school year.

Here is how one teacher is preparing for the Fall semester.

Tammy Rastoder is a high-school teacher of Language Arts electives (Yearbook, Journalism and Creative Writing) at South Warren High School in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This coming Fall she will begin her 6th year of teaching.

She began her summer vacation in early June by attending a 2-day workshop at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, sponsored by the school’s yearbook company, Jostens. The workshop is for both faculty advisers and students. With assistance from Jostens’ journalism, photography and design instructors, attendees are shown how to plan their book’s theme, ladder (what appears on each page) and cover. The workshop features break-out sessions specifically for advisers, student editors, and photographers. Tammy says it is “well worth it to put in those couple of days at the beginning of the summer to get a head-start on yearbook planning” so she can “hit the ground running when school starts.” She attended the workshop with two of her student yearbook staffers.

Jostens' Yearbook Workshop in Nashville (2017)

Yearbook Workshop. Jostens Workshop leader Lauren Logsdon with South Warren design editor Eve Baughman and editor-in-chief Kylee Eilers. Photo Courtesy Tammy Rastoder

This summer, Tammy’s school district is also participating in SCK-LAUNCH: Educator Externship. Educator Externships are work-based learning and professional development opportunities that provide teachers with exposure to local businesses and the types of careers students may want to pursue. This involves teachers visiting various workplaces to “gain a perspective of the talent pipeline and skills students will need to be successful” and to “link those skills into the classroom and when mentoring students.”

For the most part, though, Tammy says that she finds new ideas for her classes and ways to improve her teaching methods through reading, watching documentaries, traveling and various art activities that she does for fun during the summer. She is always thinking of ways to incorporate Summertime experiences into her classroom.

Tammy and her fellow educators have access to professional development materials and videos at the Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System (CIITS) website, which is provided to all Kentucky public schools. Your state no doubt has similar development resources that are available for teachers to use.

The Warren County school district also provides two days of professional development on various topics for teachers during the summer.

Like Tammy, hopefully, all of you teachers will find time to have fun and relax this summer, but when you start planning this Fall’s lessons, take some time to search eLibrary’s many educator resources, including our huge list of Research Topics.

Tammy Rastoder

Tammy Rastoder [Photo Courtesy Tammy Rastoder]

Speaking of Summertime Blues, during her time off, Tammy and her husband Samir are heading first to Memphis and then will take the Mississippi Blues Trail down to New Orleans.

Have a great summer!

If you have some ideas about preparing for classes during the summer months, you can share them by tweeting us using #ProQuest.

 

Here are just a few eLibrary educator resources:

Research Topics

Teacher Resources (eLibrary Topic Browse)

Managing Your Classroom (eLibrary Topic Browse)

Subject Support (eLibrary Topic Browse)

Teachers’ Professional Resources (eLibrary Topic Browse)

Curriculum Design, featuring Assessment Strategies, Lesson Plan Aids and National Education Standards (eLibrary Topic Browse)

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

5 Reasons to View a ProQuest Webinar!

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Created with recitethis.com

Professional development is pivotal for any educator to stay on top of trends, utilize tools, and prepare themselves for success in the classroom or library. Here are five reasons to register for a live session or watch a recorded ProQuest webinar or video today:

1. Use It or Lose It. Money doesn’t grow on trees and neither does your budget. With every precious budget dollar, you want to make sure you are using every resource effectively. Since each ProQuest webinar is with a live person, that means you can ask questions and learn from a professional how resources can match your individual needs. And if you watch a recorded webinar, trainers are available via email to answer any questions.

2. New Updates and Products. ProQuest products are updated regularly to stay relevant for educators. Webinars help you stay on top of the latest updates to products like CultureGrams, eLibrary, SIRS and ProQuest Research Companion.

3. Educator Tools. You may not realize that ProQuest products have many useful educator tools to help apply resources to your curriculum. Many webinars focus on tools to make your work easier like curriculum guides, note organizers, activities, lesson plans, and tutorials

4. Just Like Coffee, Training Can Be Customized. If your class or topic of interest isn’t posted on the online schedule, that’s OK! Help is just an email away. Contact the team at training@proquest.com and they will schedule a class for you.

5. Equipped Teachers Light Fires. When you are fully equipped with the best educational tools and resources, then you are prepared to equip your students as lifelong learners. You are the spark that lights their fire and passion for learning. Then the possibilities are endless!

ProQuest training resources are available to help you. Sign up or watch a video today!

6 Outstanding Libraries in U.S. Prisons

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, at the end of 2014, there were more than 1,500,000 adult prisoners in state and federal correctional facilities in the United States. America has had libraries for prisoners since 1790 when the Philadelphia Prison Society began furnishing books to the inmates in the Walnut Street Jail. The first state prison library was established in 1802 at the Kentucky State Reformatory. It contained primarily religious books and was supervised by the prison chaplain. Prison libraries offer inmates a place to improve reading skills, write a letter home, watch an instructional video or just escape for a while by reading for pleasure. The American Library Association also works to provide library services to prisoners and their families. While many correctional institutions have book lending services or small libraries, some of the best facilities and programs in U.S. prisons are featured below:

Folsom State Prison in California (Credit: Carol M. Highsmith via Library of Congress) [public domain]

Folsom State Prison in California
(Credit: Carol M. Highsmith via Library of Congress) [public domain]

1. Angola State Prison, Louisiana. The nation’s largest maximum security prison’s Main Library was dedicated in 1968, but there are actually four other branches that serve Angola inmates as well, called Outcamp libraries. The prison is part of the Inter-Library Loan Program with the State Library of Louisiana.

2. Bucks County Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania. Prisoners here work with the local Lions Club to produce reading material for the blind. The program was the first in the country of its type and uses county inmates to transcribe textbooks, worksheets, and tests into Braille for blind students.

3. Folsom State Prison, California. A March 2003 profile of the library noted that its collection included 16,522 fiction and 4,176 non-fiction books, as well as 1,449 law texts. The law library is the most popular and offers a Paralegal Studies Program to train inmates in research skills to help them find forms and legal resources. The library also offers educational programs, as well as a vocational-intern program to prepare certain inmates for the working world outside of jail.

4. Illinois State Prisons. The Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners project accepts request letters from Illinois inmates, finds books that meet their needs and provides them at no cost to the inmates. The community and individual libraries provide donated books, and volunteers staff lending libraries in local jails, interacting directly with the inmates. At last count, they have provided over 120,000 books to more than 18,000 prisoners. They also publish prisoners’ writings and artworks.

5. Norfolk Prison Library, Massachusetts. When a young Malcolm X was incarcerated here in 1948, he taught himself to read and write by copying an entire dictionary page-by-page. He later took advantage of the large library, reading every book available in philosophy, history, literature, and science. Today the library still provides education programs to inmates in the culinary arts, computer technology, HVAC, college transition, ESL, reading enrichment, and getting a GED.

6. Racine Correctional Institution, Wisconsin. In 2006, the Racine Correctional Institution Library hosted a poetry slam and competition. Another program is the Shakespeare Prison Project, a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Fifteen to twenty inmates study and rehearse Shakespeare plays for nine months, working with theater artists and preparing to perform for the other prisoners and for the community.

Adding an A to STEM…Full STEAM Ahead!

STEAM Quote

As professionals in the field of education, we all know the term STEM. This is a movement that exposes students to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. It promotes the teaching of these disciplines’ theories and content with a hands-on learning approach. The goal is not only to provide students with a deep, multidisciplinary understanding but to foster understanding of STEM concepts in the real world.

If a letter were added to the STEM acronym, what would the best choice be? In this video, Harvard University education professor Howard Gardner has a definitive answer: “I have no hesitation in saying we need to add the letter A….An education devoid of arts…is an empty, half-brain kind of education.”

To the point.

In that same video, Yale Child Study Center lecturer Erika Christakis isolates perhaps the core reason that adding the Arts to STEM education is so important: “The arts hav[e] something really essential to say about the human condition, just as science does.”

Let’s First Look at STEM.

We are humans living in a rapidly developing society. In no point in recorded human history has there been as many innovative technologies bringing people together. The disciplines represented in STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math—are integral to the technologies we use every day—and the tools we will use tomorrow. As stated in the State Idaho Department of Education’s What Is STEM Education?, “Math is the language; Science and Engineering are the processes for thinking; all this leads to Innovation.”

Young people—students—have known no other world. It is in all of our best interest to teach, encourage, and support them in a STEM environment.

So Why STEAM?: Arts and the Human Condition

Knowing and understanding the significance of STEM in our schools may not, at first glance, lead us to recognize the significance of adding an A to this multidisciplinary approach to education.

So we must ask: Exactly what do the arts add to our lives?

Consider what the arts encompass. Music, painting, sculpting, theater, literature, architecture, fashion, and so much more. Just as new technologies bring us together and help create our shared experiences, the arts span time to connect us with each other and ourselves. Consider briefly Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. How many people have viewed this painting across the centuries and have been moved by its beauty and brilliance? Across time and cultures, Mona Lisa created a shared, communal experience that impacted 16th-century viewers in much the same way is it does today.  An encounter that becomes both a personal and shared experience.

In fact, at the foundation of all artistic endeavors are creativity, personal experience, and shared experience. It is the same with newfound technologies. Why is this important? Consider what Mae Jemison—an astronaut, doctor, art collector, and dancer—had to say on the topic in this transcript of her 2009 TED Talk on teaching arts and science:

“The difference between science and the arts is not that they are different sides of the same coin, even, or even different parts of the same continuum, but rather they’re manifestations of the same thing….The arts and sciences are avatars of human creativity. It’s our attempt as humans to build an understanding of the universe, the world around us….[S]cience provides an understanding of a universal experience, and arts provides a universal understanding of a personal experience.”

STEAM in Action

Creativity, personal experience, and shared experience are evident in stories and videos of STEAM in action. When creative writing is incorporated as the A in this Science of Superheroes Lesson, students are able to make connections between the science of flight—which was the STEM component of the lesson—and creating a superhero character and story, which was the A component of the lesson. The video highlights the many layers of involvement and collaboration STEAM can engender.

Math concepts, such as number lines, counting, and fractions, are merged seamlessly with interactive theater play in Staging STEM, a video that also conveys the joy students attain when engaging in STEAM activities. The personal and shared experiences, generated by both personal and communal creativity, become essential to and integrated with the learning experience.

Education should be exciting, engaging, uplifting, and inspiring…and it should provide an outlet for creativity and both personal and shared experiences. The multidisciplinary STEAM educational model certainly is an approach worth exploring.

Explore more about STEM and STEAM in this infographic from the University of Florida:

STEAM, not just STEM Education Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Pokémon GO Meets Libraries

Youth Services Desk at Worth-Pinkham Memorial Library [Photo Courtesy of Erin Douglass, Youth Services Librarian]

Youth Services Desk at Worth-Pinkham Memorial Library [Photo Courtesy of Erin Douglass, Youth Services Librarian]

Catching the Pokémon Craze

As soon as Pokémon Go came out, I found myself saying things like, “Be back later, going to hunt Pokémon” or “Gotta catch ’em all.” I’m not the only one. My colleagues and friends are also venturing outside all in hopes of catching as many Pokémon as they can. My colleague, Amy Shaw, and I wanted to write a blog post about how this game has impacted libraries specifically since many of them are set up as Pokémon Gyms or Pokéstops, and are organizing activities centered on the game.

Worth-Pinkham Memorial Library’s ‘Pokémon Go Walk and Train Club’

Pokémon Go Walk and Train Club [Photo Courtesy of Erin Douglass , Youth Services Librarian at Worth-Pinkham Memorial Library.]

Pokémon Go Walk and Train Club [Photo Courtesy of Erin Douglass, Youth Services Librarian at Worth-Pinkham Memorial Library.]

Erin Douglass, the Youth Services Librarian at Worth-Pinkham Memorial Library in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ said they are enjoying the Pokémon mania through a Walk and Train Club to fit in with their 2016 summer reading theme of sports and fitness. Players can bring their smartphone and join a walk around the neighborhood. They stop at a Pokémon Gym, Pokéstops, and share tips as Pokémon spawn while a lure module is dropped in the park. Douglass said her hope is to have the club grow and be able to incorporate a walk for charity app to contribute to a cause and catch ’em all at the same time.

Douglass also put together a craft activity based on the game. Pokémon fans are able to create a Pokéball that opens to reveal a Pokémon inside and participants can choose from Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Gengar, Snorlax, or Eevee. Since the Worth-Pinkham Memorial Library is a Pokéstop in the game, Douglass said they’ve scheduled lure modules to drop at specific times. Players are invited to take a break from the heat while rehydrating inside the library. Future dates of Pokémon Go activities will appear on the library website. Douglass said her Pokémon tip is to explore new places, but be safe and attentive. Also catch a lot of Eevees — they’re adorable and can evolve three different ways!

New York Public Library Luring Patrons

At the New York Public Library, Pokémon Go has been a great way to get people outside and exercise. Lauren Weiss, NYPL Social Media Marketing Associate, said the game has been super innovative.

She said people of all ages are bonding over it and interacting. One thing the NYPL is doing is challenging others to “beat the library” by holding down the Pokémon Gym. They are coming up with ways to get people into the library through the Pokéstops and gyms. She said the crown jewel of Pokémon seems to be the Snorlax. Weiss also shared the library’s Pokémon Doppelgangers found in their Digital Collections! Here you can find side-by-side comparisons of various Pokémon to real images found in the NYPL collection.

In response to the Pokémon Go game’s popularity, Weiss said, “I think it is going to get bigger. Those of us who grew up with it are the ones who are the core audience.”

Teen Summer Reading Club at Kingsbridge Library - NYPL [Instagram Screenshot with Permission from Lauren Weiss, New York Public Library]

Teen Summer Reading Club at Kingsbridge Library – NYPL [Instagram Screenshot with Permission from Lauren Weiss, New York Public Library]

Beaufort County Library Wants You to Bring All Things Pokémon

At the Bluffton Branch of the Beaufort County Library Ryan Easterbrooks is in charge of Children’s Programs. Being a huge Pokémon fan, he saw an immediate opportunity to combine Pokémon and libraries.

He created a Pokémon display meant to bring attention to the game and said a friend of his saw it on his personal Facebook page and posted it to Reddit. He said it was on the front page of Reddit by the end of the day and had 5500 upvotes, with 1.3 million views on Imgur. He said it was awesome to see something library-related go viral.

Pokémon Display at Beaufort County Library [Photo Courtesy of Ryan Easterbrooks in Children's Programs]

Pokémon Display at Beaufort County Library. This picture went viral on social media. [Photo Courtesy of Ryan Easterbrooks in Children’s Programs]

His library has been contacted by several others in the U.S. that want to know what children’s programs they are planning on. His idea for the future is to have a Pokémon club where people can bring their Pokémon trading cards, Nintendo DS, or device with the game to the library and play against and with other kids. He said they are also promoting the manga as reading material to kids.

“Pokémon is selling the library in many ways,” Easterbrooks said.

Uniting People Through Pokémon

Warwick Public Library has been busy with Pokémon Go events. Kristin Munson, a reference librarian there, said they’ve held a live gym meet for teens in grades 7-12 who could battle for ownership of the library Pokémon Gym. They’ve also had stations for creating Pokémon-shaped bookmarks, 3D perler bead pets, or to take photos with a plush Pikachu and props.

Later on, the library is going to give out gym badges that can be earned through submitting photos of Pokémon people have caught.

“My favorite part of Pokémon Go by far has been the camaraderie and genuine kindness of everybody playing,” Munson said.

It’s been a great icebreaker for the shy or socially awkward and a great motivator to get those who are depressed outside. People are playing for purely selfless reasons, dropping lures at children’s hospitals, picking up litter while they hunt, leaving out water and snacks for strangers and even walking shelter dogs to progress in the game.

She said, “It’s been the ultimate restorer of faith in humanity.”

Pokémon Themed Book Covers at Warwick Public Library [Photo Courtesy of Kristin Munson, Reference Librarian]

Pokémon-Themed Book Covers at Warwick Public Library [Photo Courtesy of Kristin Munson, Reference Librarian]

Bridging Generational Gaps

Teens Catching Pokemon at Farmers Branch Manske Library [Photo Courtesy of Korey Finch, Youth Services Librarian]

At Farmers Branch Manske Library in Farmers Branch, Texas, Youth Services Librarian Korey Finch recognized the programming potential of Pokémon Go right away. Finch, who has loved Pokémon since the game first came out in the ’90s, set up a Pokémon Go Adventure Walk, which she called “a total Field of Dreams moment.” Not only was the event well-received, it also managed to reach one of hardest to reach groups – teenagers. Inspired by the successful turnout of The Adventure Walk, Finch created a 5K Egg Hatch Walk, which also had a good turnout, in spite of the Texas heat.

One of the best things about the events, according to Finch, was that Pokémon Trainers of all ages participated, bridging generational gaps. Finch also noticed other benefits to Pokémon Go, including increased traffic to the library. According to Finch, “[m]ore people have been coming in to get library cards, pay off old fines, enjoy the cool air, and quite a few come in just to chat with me about different things they’ve caught or places to catch certain things.”

“In my opinion, one of the coolest things about this game is its ability to bridge generational gaps, and allows libraries to connect with teen patrons in such a fun way. Out at the park we encountered some teens who found out about Pokémon we had caught in the library, and they took off running to go explore the library! When does that happen voluntarily?!” –Korey Finch, Youth Services Librarian, Farmers Branch Manske Library, Farmers Branch, Texas

IndyPL: Gotta Catch ’em all READING!

 

Zubat in Central Library

Central Library Facebook post of a Zubat in the stacks. [Photo Courtesy of Jon Barnes, Communications Specialist, The Indianapolis Public Library]

The Indianapolis Public Library joined in on the Pokémon craze by holding a Pokémon Lure Day on July 23. During the event, library staff dropped lures to attract players to its many branches. Central Library in the heart of downtown Indianapolis served as the main Pokémon site, dropping lures every 30 minutes during library hours and offering 2K and 5K Walking Maps of nearby gyms and stops. The event attracted more than 2,400 patrons to Central Library, which according to Jon Barnes, Communications Specialist at the Library, was a 500 visitor increase compared with the previous Saturday. The downtown library even featured a special drink, the Pikachu Power!

The Indianapolis Public Library event showcased their event in a staff-created online resource guide: “IndyPL: Gotta Catch ’em all READING!”  The resource guide is chock full of all things Pokémon, including 63 different how-to videos on how to draw Pokémon.

Fosters Collaboration

Oddish

Oddish in the library stacks (Photo used with permission by Cari Rérat, Director, Pryor Public Library, Pryor, Oklahoma)

Pokémon can also be used as a way to foster collaboration between libraries and those in their communities. Such collaborative events can be a way to reach current and new library users in a new way. Korey Finch, of Farmers Branch Manske Library, says she has been in talks with the Farmers Branch Historical Park about creating a Pokemon Go Meetup Event for teens at the park before school starts. (Update: Ms. Finch let us know that she finalized plans with their historical park for a Pokémon & Popsicles event on Friday, August 19th, from 9AM-11AM!)

Cari Rérat, Director of the Thomas J. Harrison Pryor Public Library in Pryor, Oklahoma, mentioned that the library will be partnering with the Main Street Association, their town’s Rec Center and downtown businesses to organize a Pokéwalk, with at least one lure every 30 minutes, through their downtown area.

Pokémon and Safety

Libraries are also using Pokémon as a teaching tool to address digital safety and privacy issues. Skokie Public Library in Skokie, Illinois, plans to use the game to teach children about both physical and digital safety. On August 16, from 3:00-4:00 p.m., they will be conducting a Pokémon Go Safari with children in Grades K-5. According to Amy Koester, the Youth & Family Program Supervisor at the library, the safari will take the children on a walk to several Pokéstops that are within a several block radius of the library.

Tweet Us Your Library Pokemon

Are there Pokémon in your library? Send us your photos or let us know how you’re joining the fun! Tweet us at #ProQuest or send us a comment below.

 

Celebrate Social Media

Social Media Day

Happy Social Media Day!!!

Mashable, the global digital media website, initiated Social Media Day in 2010 as a way to recognize and celebrate social media’s impact on global communication.

The advent of social media networks in the late 1990s and early 2000s presented both challenges and opportunities for educators and school administrators. As more students obtained smartphones and other mobile devices many school districts developed rules limiting their use in the classroom. Gradually, educators began embracing the new technology and discovered positive applications of social networking. Social media’s impact on communication in education is certainly something to be celebrated.

Lisa Nielsen, a director of digital engagement and professional learning, and the author of the blog, The Innovative Educator, provides a wealth of ideas for connecting through social networks. Her June 15, 2015, post offers “4 Tools to Stay Connected with Families This Summer” and provides a link to her June 16 webinar, “Social Media and Cell Phones–Today’s Tools to Connect with Families This Summer.”

How do you use social media to connect with students, parents, and faculty? How will you stay in touch with them this summer? Tweet us using #ProQuest or comment below.

 

Chronic Absenteeism:
Why It Matters and How to Fight It

My no-nonsense parents had no patience for illness let alone truancy. School attendance was required; sickness was just another brick-heavy textbook in my backpack. But in the fifth grade, savage bacteria fought for my liberty. I thought I caught the bubonic plague, so I went to the school nurse. Diagnosis: fever, no plague. My mother had to pick me up—nurse’s orders. I was free, even though it only led to soup and sleep.

Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?…

My early dismissal wasn’t exactly Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this month. In that film, Bueller skips school, “borrows” a Ferrari, tours Chicago, and outwits every adult. Even adults can recognize the appeal in that scenario. Being absent once in a while is liberating. No big deal, right?

Adding It All Up

As it turns out, absences add up fast. According to a recent U.S. Department of Education (DOE) report, truancy is endemic. Thirteen percent of U.S. students, 1 in 8, are chronically absent, which is defined as missing at least 15 days of school a year. High school students are the worst offenders: nearly 1 in 5 is chronically absent. Minority students also have higher rates of chronic absenteeism.

Why It Matters

Ferris Bueller is a career truant. Does it matter, really? It does, actually. The same DOE report cites studies finding that truancy causes students to fall behind in important areas like reading. Chronic absenteeism also indicates a greater likelihood of dropping out. And consequences may extend into adulthood: truancy and dropping out lead to poorer health outcomes and increased chances of going through the criminal justice system.

What We Can Do

If Ferris Bueller proves anything, it’s that truancy beats economics class. But—other than not sounding like Ben Stein—there are some things educators can do to curb chronic absenteeism.

  • Collect individualized data. Use data to identify which students are chronically absent.
  • Engage students and parents. Awareness matters. Sometimes students and parents simply don’t realize how quickly absences have added up.
  • Dig deeper. Ask a student or parent what’s going on. Some reasons are more serious: illness, family responsibilities, housing troubles, unstable home environments, insufficient transportation, bullying, personal safety concerns, and culture are just a few reasons that lead to absences.
  • Find solutions. More serious problems aren’t easily fixable, but identifying them is the first step toward finding solutions.

Avoiding absences altogether is impossible. Sometimes fifth graders spike fevers. And sometimes the Ferris Bueller’s of the world declare, “How could I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this?” Too often, though, we dismiss the adverse consequences of truancy, but it’s no joke. Curbing chronic absenteeism now will help students become successful adults. It’s within our power to at least try.

How does your school fight chronic absenteeism?

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

Why Playing Guitar This Summer Can Teach You About Science

Having Fun with Music

Summer is a great time to have fun and learn something at the same time. For those days when the heat is just too much, staying inside can be good for practicing a hobby or starting something new. Have you always dreamed of songwriting? What about playing guitar? Learning a new instrument or writing a song may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are tons of resources online that can not only teach you how to do these things but also help with understanding the science behind music.

Link Between Music and Science

There’s a whole lot of science happening in the process of making music! From the vibrations of guitar strings to creating melodies and harmonies, you can pick up a lot about physics just from plucking or strumming notes. Once you start experimenting with your chosen instrument, it becomes easier to see why music is a helpful tool in education. Maybe that’s why it’s easier to remember facts when they are incorporated into a clever song.

This short TED-Ed animated lesson by Oscar Fernando Perez and Chris Boyle illustrates just how much you can learn about physics through playing the guitar.

So, the next time you see a guitar imagine how its parts work together to create the sounds you hear, the vibrations you feel and the melodies and rhythms you play. Science is all around us! And it doesn’t have to stop just because it’s summer.

Resources Online

Here’s a short list of some interesting videos to watch on the connection between music, science, the brain, and even spiders.

The Science Behind the Arts: The Maths Behind Music
How playing an instrument benefits your brain
Spiders Tune Their Webs Like A Guitar 

Are you learning something musical this summer? Write us in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest. We’d love to know!