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Posts Tagged ‘Educational Websites’

Screenplays in the Curriculum? Of Course!

Clapperboard (Credit: Photo by Will Jackson, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Television and movies are–for better or for worse–a dominating cultural force. They feed popular culture and the young minds imbibing it.

According to a 2012 Nielsen report, teens watch about 22 hours of television a week. And that’s not including movies, social media, YouTube, videos, and all sorts of other technologies.

Educators may find all of this media exposure distracting to their students. According to a report by Common Sense Media, “Many teachers think their students use of entertainment media has hurt their academic performance.”

So what’s an educator to do?

I recently watched the School Library Journal webcast Pop Literacy. (I highly recommend it.) It’s a great overview of how (and why) to incorporate pop culture into your curriculum, including a fascinating discussion of the word “appropriate” in terms of pop culture in the classroom.

One thing, in particular, struck me as worthwhile, fun, and exciting for students, as well as for teachers.

Screenwriting.

If young people are watching an average of three hours or more of television a day, it probably would benefit them to know WHAT they are watching and HOW it got there. Television shows and movies require a lot of elements along to way to becoming a finished product. One of the first? A screenplay.

A screenplay, or a script, is created by one person or a team of writers. Dialogue, interaction, action, and reaction, setting, set design, costume, and prop descriptions are woven together to create a world not just to be imagined, as in a book, but also to be brought into form.

How can this project be beneficial to students?

Most students watch and enjoy television. They are drawn in by the story, intrigued by the characters, immersed in the narrative, invested in its conclusion. Some students do not enjoy classroom creative writing–the process can be intimidating and overwhelming. Screenwriting is a way to engage students as part of the collaborative and creative process in writing a screenplay.

Reading. You can start by reading, analyzing, and discussing a screenplay. There’s a huge selection at imsdb.com, including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, La La Land, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. You can search by genre, or for a specific script. For younger students, try the read-aloud plays in SIRS Discoverer.

Discussion. Introduce students to the codes and conventions of screenwriting and review the significance of the three-act structure. Explore how to create a unique voice for each character and consider why a convincing setting is an important element of the screenplay.

Writing. Your students now have a basic idea of the screenwriting process and screenplay elements. Now, divide the students into teams, give them parameters, and set them to work imagining, discussing, and writing! Try this Writing a Screenplay lesson plan for guidance and inspiration.

Ready to move one step further and create student films from the finished screenplays? This filmmaking unit for 6th through 8th grade students gives an overview of the process.

Interested in learning more about screenwriting in the classroom? Check out the links below.

Teaching Scriptwriting, Screenplays and Storyboards for Film and TV Production
How to Bring Screenwriting into the Classroom
Teaching Screenwriting to Teenagers
Scriptwriting in the Classroom

Do you have thoughts about or experiences with screenwriting as an activity for your students? We’d love to hear them! Tweet us #ProQuest.

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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!

 

New Year’s by the Numbers

New Year's Eve Times Square

New Year’s Eve at Times Square
Photo credit: Anthony Quintano / iWoman / CC BY

How do you ring in the New Year? 62 percent of Americans say they stay home on New Year’s Eve, spending it with family and friends, 22% admit to falling asleep before midnight, while around 10% don’t celebrate the holiday at all. Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, watching fireworks displays and making resolutions for the new year. While 45% of Americans make resolutions, only about 8% achieve them. Many people commemorate the arrival of the New Year with a champagne toast, judging by the 360 million glasses of sparkling wine that are consumed in the U.S. each year during the holiday season. Around a million people crowd into New York City’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve to watch the iconic lighted ball drop–joined by nearly 6 in 10 Americans and a billion others globally who view all or some of the televised broadcast of the festivities.

Float at Rose Bowl Parade.

Float at Rose Bowl Parade
Photo credit: Joe Mac1 / IWoman / CC BY

On New Year’s Day, many American cities hold parades. Since 1906, the people of Philadelphia have celebrated the New Year with a parade that features 15,000 Mummers in colorful and lavish costumes who dance, spin and twirl down Broad Street after a year of secret planning. This year marks the 126th Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, which includes floral floats and marching bands and is viewed by over 80 million people around the world. The average float contains more flowers than a typical American florist will sell in five years, with up to 18 million flowers used to create all the floats that appear in the parade.

SIRS Knowledge Source offers editorially-selected and credible internet resources on vital issues and topics. You can search for sites by keyword/natural language, subject headings, or topic. Check out some of the sites below to find more information on the history and traditions of the New Year’s holiday.

New Year’s

New Year’s Traditions

New Year’s Eve in Times Square

Pasadena Tournament of Roses

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.

 

ProQuest eLibrary Science: Man in Space

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Learn about the many exciting and incredible things we’ve learned from our outreach into space, both manned and unmanned.  We’ve overcome and dealt with major challenges, obstacles, and tragedies like the loss of Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia, the Apollo 13 mission, and the required space repairs of the Hubble Telescope and our very first space station, Skylab.  We’ve also seen great success walking on the moon, and with our space probes deep into our own solar system and beyond, as well as our Mars rovers.  We’ve done a lot and come through a lot, and yet we haven’t even scratched the surface.  Is there a career waiting for you in space?  Maybe in one of the other areas of science?  If you think so, or if you just like to learn interesting facts and theories about our world and worlds beyond, you can find all kinds of information in ProQuest eLibrary Science. ProQuest eLibrary Science will introduce you to topics in health, biology, earth science, mathematics, physical sciences, technology, science projects, and much, much more!

Learn all about ProQuest eLibrary Science, or any of our other extensive ProQuest resource collections by joining the ProQuest Training and Consulting team in a free public webinar. If we haven’t listed the class you’re interested in, just contact us and we’ll be happy to make arrangements to meet with you directly.

Monthly Theme — ProQuest History Study Center

HSC1ProQuest History Study Center provides over 500 complete Study Units on major events of world history, bringing together primary sources, multi-media, biographical content, journal articles, maps, and reference.  Included are document-based questions, presidential documents, documents on American history, speeches, documents on British history, and selections from historical newspapers.  One feature, designed to help engage students in historic study, is the “monthly theme.”  Each month, History Study Center provides a theme page on an historical topic of interest.  This theme provides selected text, excerpts, and images, along with active links to key content and sample documents.  Check out this month’s theme, “The American Civil War”, or look at next month’s theme, “Railroads and Transport History”, or any other month of the year.

Learn all about ProQuest History Study Center or any of our extensive ProQuest resource collections by joining the ProQuest Training and Consulting team in a free public webinar.  If you aren’t able to find a class posted for the resource that interests you, contact us and we’ll be happy to make arrangements to meet with you directly.

Information Literacy Along with Information Resources

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ProQuest Research Companion was developed to address the need of teaching information literacy and research skills to students, thus helping them take better advantage of your library’s information resources and at the same time providing them with lifetime learning skills. One of the best parts about ProQuest Research Companion is that it is flexible.  You may choose to use it simply as a reference tool, the sections of which may be accessed at will for instruction or support, or you may set it up so that individuals may progress through its organized construction and monitor their progress.  You may support your existing research skills materials and reference resources by connecting to them from within ProQuest Research Companion, or you may pull the instructional sections out of ProQuest Research Companion and incorporate them with your outside information literacy instructional content.  The idea is to make it adaptable for you, so that you can maximize its benefit for your students.

Join the ProQuest Training and Consulting team to learn more about ProQuest Research Companion as well as all of your other ProQuest resources.  You may sign up for one of our public webinars at any time.  If you don’t see the webinar or time you’re looking for, you are always welcome to contact us to arrange a private session.

April Training Webinars Posted

Libraries see surge in e-book demandNow’s a great time to catch up on the important elements of your ProQuest K-12 resources. We’ve posted our April webinars and would like to invite you to join us. Share this information also with some of your key faculty who you know would benefit from greater familiarity with your excellent ProQuest library research and learning tools. Our new public webinar page also expands your view of ProQuest possibilities. Not only may you access training for your K-12 focused resources, but you may also learn more about ProQuest’s full array of research and learning tools. Many of these have potential application in advanced secondary learning environments.

Sign up now for a class of your choice. If you don’t see the resource you’re looking for, contact us and we would be happy to schedule a private webinar with you!

Science and Scientists

eLibSCI2016

Do you know Elisha Otis? How about Maria Mitchell or Thomas Young? You can learn about these famous people and their contributions to the world and to science in ProQuest eLibrary Science. Along with that, you can reference all types of related materials, and also educational websites. eLibrary Science will supply access to hundreds of scientific journals, along with multi-media and interactive content as well. eLibrary Science represents a great opportunity to strengthen your science resources.

You can learn more about ProQuest eLibrary Science, or any of our other exceptional ProQuest resources, by contacting a the ProQuest Training and Consulting Team to arrange a privately scheduled webinar. You can also join us for one of our public webinars on many of our exceptional ProQuest K-12 resources. We’ll answer your questions for you, and provide guidance on how these resources can best fit your needs. See you soon!