Posts Tagged ‘Educational Activities’

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.

Meet Common Core Standards with Statistics

Cartoon Depicting Mr. Alfred De Fuisseaux

Cartoon Depicting Mr. Alfred De Fuisseaux (1843-1901)
As a Figure Juggling with Figures
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.”–Mark Twain

The Numbers Game

Statistics are everywhere. Politicians, pundits, journalists, lobbyists, academics, students, and scientists–these are just a few examples of people who use statistics to defend their work. But statistics are often presented in ways that can alter how we understand and interpret a particular issue, which is why statistical literacy is so important.

Statistical Literacy and Common Core Standards

Statistical literacy includes the ability to find, analyze, and interpret statistics. Common Core State Standards emphasize the importance of statistical literacy.

Here are a few Common Core Standards that relate to statistics:

  • CCSS.Math.Content.HSS.IC.A.1 Understand statistics as a process for making inferences about population parameters based on a random sample from that population.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.HSS.IC.B.3 Recognize the purposes of and differences among sample surveys, experiments, and observational studies; explain how randomization relates to each.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Analyzing Statistics

A Common Core-aligned statistical analysis should cover three major steps:

  • Find statistics on a subject of interest
  • Analyze statistics
  • Apply Knowledge by evaluating credibility and making conclusions about statistics

Take a look at this infographic:

Infographic. Electric Vehicles

Image by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

Based on this infographic, California has the highest number of electric vehicles. But these data only tell part of the story. Consider California’s population size: it is the most populous state in the United States, which puts California at a distinct advantage when presenting a simple tally. More sparsely populated states would likely favor presenting these statistics as electric vehicles per capita. Both presentations of data are correct, but the way in which these statistics are presented may alter our understanding and interpretation.

This example illustrates the importance of statistical literacy. Statistical representation, however, is only one facet of statistical analysis. Other considerations include: sources, authors, sponsoring organizations, dates, historical context, statistical methodologies, and comparable studies.


Check out these resources:

Statistical literacy will help students meet Common Core Standards, but it will also help them understand and think critically about the statistics that bombard them every day.

Meet Common Core Standards with Primary Sources

Underwood Typewriter
By Kroton (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I once worked at a museum exhibit where the most popular artifact among tech-armed students was an Underwood Typewriter. Many of the students had never seen a manual typewriter before, let alone used one. They were downright captivated by feeding paper, pressing keys, unjamming letters, and moving over the carriage. The most common question: “How do you fix a typo?” An early twentieth-century typewriter provided students a tangible link to the past, while inspiring questions and wonderment. This typewriter illustrates the power of primary sources.

Primary Sources

Primary sources are invaluable because they are original, first-hand materials about people, places, or events created by people who were personally involved. They come in many forms: advertisements, court records, government documents, interviews, newspapers, objects, photographs, press releases, and speeches—just to name a few. Analyzing primary sources is a great way for students to connect with history.

Primary Sources and Common Core Standards

Although primary source analysis is nothing new, Common Core State Standards have renewed efforts to incorporate more informational texts into curricula. The standards require that students be able to find, analyze, and evaluate primary sources. The benefits of introducing primary sources into lesson plans are twofold: they engage students by enlivening historical events, and they help students meet Common Core Standards.

Here are a few Common Core Standards that relate to primary sources:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Analyzing Primary Sources

A Common Core-aligned primary source analysis should cover three major steps:

  • Find primary sources on a subject of interest
  • Analyze primary sources, paying attention to key ideas & details, craft & structure, and knowledge integration
  • Apply Knowledge by evaluating and making conclusions about primary sources


Check out these resources:

  • Find: SIRS Issues Researcher offers plenty of primary sources. Students can narrow their search results to include only primary sources.
  • Analyze: Our step-by-step, Common Core-aligned guide, Understanding Primary Sources, will help students analyze primary sources.
  • Apply Knowledge: Our guide will also prompt students to draw conclusions about primary sources.

Analyzing primary sources will engage students and help them meet Common Core Standards simultaneously. And they might just have a little fun, too.

Meet Common Core Standards with Infographics


Created by Jeff Wyman at wordle.net

The word cloud infographic above from Wordle, which organizes keywords from this post, shows the value of presenting information visually. Infographics are powerful and persuasive visual representations of information or data. Common Core State Standards require that students be able to find, understand, evaluate, and create visual depictions. Infographics are a great way to meet these visual literacy-focused Common Core Standards.

Common Core and Visual Literacy

Here are some Common Core Standards that relate directly to visual literacy:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.7 Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.

These standards seem complicated, but the concepts behind them are rooted in a long-established learning goal: visual literacy. Visual literacy includes the ability to find, understand, and evaluate information presented visually. A key challenge for educators is training students to think critically about visual representations. Enter infographics.

Infographic 1


The benefits of infographics are twofold: they help students understand data and information, and they help students learn to think critically about visual representations.

A Common Core-aligned infographics lesson should cover three major steps:

  • Finding reputable infographics on a subject of interest
  • Analyzing infographics, paying attention to layout, content, and story
  • Creating infographics to include in a report or oral presentation


Check out these helpful infographics resources:

Infographics will engage students, help them meet Common Core Standards, and help them achieve visual literacy. Three birds, one stone. Done!

Build Academic Skills Over Summer Vacation

Skills Discoverer Feature in ProQuest SIRS Discoverer

Engage students during summer vacation through Skills Discoverer. Located within SIRS Discoverer, Skills Discoverer quickly connects students to a variety of editorially-selected educational websites. Game-like activities and challenges stimulate users as they practice skills in the curriculum-based subjects of art, health, language arts, math, science and social studies. Student can explore their academic interests and learn how to paint like Matisse, explore human anatomy, practice a foreign language, balance a personal budget, or take a scavenger hunt through history.