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Posts Tagged ‘K12’

5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day with Your Students

Young students are curious about Earth and discovering ways that they can help the planet. As adults, it’s our responsibility to teach them how and inspire their ideas. Classrooms and media centers are ideal places for this type of learning and exploration. And Earth Day, which is April 22, is the perfect time!

SIRS Discoverer and its April Spotlight of the Month on Earth Day can assist in planning for this significant global holiday. Founded in 1970, Earth Day began and continues as a day of environmental education and action.

In honor of our Earth, here are some activities that promote awareness and appreciation of nature, recycling, and the environment:

1. Plant a garden and compost.

An outdoor garden is a great classroom. Gardens can help students develop listening, comprehension, and collaboration skills, as well as provide a solid foundation in Earth sciences. Try an activity that helps students understand the parts of a plant and how they grow. The printable PDF version of the associated Teacher’s Guide provides information, photos, and activities. You can help your students dig deeper and understand more about plant growth with this article and associated activities on composting.

2. Recycle and reuse.

Tell your students to pay attention to the amount of paper and plastic bottles they use. Guide them to reuse and recycle such items appropriately. For some hands-on learning, your students can learn the art of recycling with this activity, which provides age-appropriate ideas and instructions for recycling newspapers into papier-mache, collages, or weavings. Or, impress them with the power of nature, and show them great ways people are using wind, water, and sunlight to generate “clean energy.”

3. Write letters to local representatives and start petitions.

Much of environmental protection is done through laws and legislation. As a lesson in civics, organize a student letter writing campaign to a local or state representative. Allow your students to vocalize their beliefs on how the planet should be treated. Another idea is to sign or start a petition for climate change and clean energy.

4. Walk and bike. Don’t drive.

Fossil fuels contribute to many environmental problems. Because it can be done on a small scale, encourage your students to use their bodies as a form of green transportation. Plus it’s great exercise!

5. Learn about coral reefs and other worldwide environmental issues.

We can also help the Earth–and help young students help the Earth–by learning about what is happening around the globe, from the deteriorating condition of our oceans’ coral reefs, which can lead to discussions about the warming of our planet, to the destructive and growing Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which emphasizes the necessity of recycling and limiting our use of plastics.

Celebrate life on Earth, and Earth itself, this Earth Day. If it is important to you, it will be important to the children you reach!

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Demonstrate Your Vexillological Prowess! U.S. State Flag Quiz!

Spring Ahead?: The Controversial History of Daylight Saving Time

Spring Flowers

Photo credit: Mukumbura via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

 

It’s time to spring ahead! At 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 12, most of us in the United States—unless we live in Arizona or Hawaii—will move our clocks forward one hour. While many people appreciate the extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day, just as many probably dread heading to work and school in the dark before sunrise.

Daylight Saving Time was first used to conserve energy during World War I. Today, more than 70 countries use Daylight Saving Time in at least part of their country. Researchers may be surprised to learn that Daylight Saving Time has such a confusing and complicated history in the U.S. and that there are many arguments for and against its use. Those in favor of DST argue that it saves energy, encourages more physical activity, and reduces accidents and crime. Opponents of DST say that it is economically disruptive, particularly to farmers, and dangerous for children who have to walk to morning bus stops in the dark.

Here is a brief timeline of legislation regarding time zones and Daylight Saving in the U.S.:

1784: Benjamin Franklin suggests the concept of daylight saving as a way to use fewer candles.

1883: American and Canadian railroads establish national time zones to end the confusion of dealing with thousands of different local times.

March 19, 1918: Congress enacts a law to establish standard time zones and sets summer Daylight Saving Time to begin on March 31, 1918.

1919: The Daylight Saving Time law is repealed due to its unpopularity. It remains a local option and is continued in a few states and in some cities.

1942-1943: President Franklin Roosevelt institutes year-round Daylight Saving Time, also called “War Time”, during World War II.

1945-1966: There is no federal law regarding Daylight Saving Time so states and cities are free to choose when it begins and ends. This becomes a source of confusion, especially for the broadcasting industry, railways, airlines, and bus companies.

1966: President Lyndon Johnson signs the Uniform Time Act of 1966 which calls for Daylight Saving Time to begin on the last Sunday of April and to end on the last Sunday of October. The law allows any state that doesn’t want to use Daylight Saving Time to pass a state law exempting themselves.

Jan. 4, 1974: President Richard Nixon signs the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act of 1973 in an effort to conserve energy during the 1973 Arab oil embargo. Daylight Saving Time begins on Jan. 6, 1974 and ends on Oct. 27, 1974. Daylight Saving Time then resumes on Feb. 23, 1975, and ends on Oct. 26, 1975.

1986: Congress passes a law declaring that Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. begins at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of April and ends at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday of October.

2005: The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extends Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. beginning in 2007.

2007: The Energy Policy Act of 2005 goes into effect with Daylight Saving Time beginning at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and ending at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of November.

Find student resources about Daylight Saving Time with these websites, articles, and Research Topics from SIRS Issues Researcher and eLibrary:

Daylight Saving Time

Does Daylight Savings Actually Save Energy?

It’s Not Just a Matter of Time

Research Topic: Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time Research Topic Screencap via ProQuest eLibrary

Daylight Saving Time Research Topic Screencap via ProQuest eLibrary

SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: Women’s History Month

The lives of women are very different now than they were centuries, even decades, ago. There was a time when women were not allowed to serve in the military. It was unlawful for a woman to vote or own property. Wives were once considered their husband’s property. Because of the work and dedication of strong women, those ideas have changed. Women have more rights than they had just fifty years ago, and women today strive for equality in every part of life. During Women’s History Month we salute the countless women who have furthered women’s rights by making important changes in the ways women live and work.

Sally Ride

U.S. Astronaut Sally Ride
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

SIRS Discoverer’s March Spotlight of the Month focuses on Women’s History Month. We have valuable content on women who have contributed to science, government, and human rights. Your students can research about the women’s suffrage movement in the United States, meet African-American women who have changed history, read about early female politicians, follow women’s increasing role in the military, and celebrate women’s scientific achievements.

Elizabeth Blackwell–Born in England, she became the first female doctor in America.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton–An early champion of women’s rights, she became a central figure in the women’s suffrage movement.

Frances Perkins–President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed her as Secretary of Labor in 1932 making her the first woman to hold a U.S. Cabinet office.

Grace Hopper–As an admiral in the U.S. Navy and computer scientist, she pioneered “user-friendly” computer software and she also coined the computer term “bug.”

Juliette Gordon Low–She founded the Girl Guides which eventually became the Girl Scouts.

Marie Curie–She performed groundbreaking work in physics and was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.

Sally Ride–Chosen by NASA to be the first American woman in space.

Sandra Day O’Connor–She is a retired judge and the first female U.S. Supreme court justice.

Shirley Chisholm–She was the first African-American woman elected to U.S. Congress.

Student Activity: To learn more about each of these women, have your students answer these questions:

  • When was she born?
  • What was her education?
  • Where did she live most of her life?
  • What is she most famous for accomplishing?
  • Why is she an important part of history?
  • What changes did she make in her field?

How are you celebrating Women’s History Month in your library, media center, or classroom?

Let us know in the comments or tweet us with #ProQuest.

CultureGrams States Edition Data Extremes

People like knowing how things compare. They want to know who was first/last, who has the most/least of something, what is the highest/lowest or biggest/smallest, etc. Comparisons can be interesting trivia, but they can also help us put information in context.

CultureGrams makes it easy to discover comparative statistical information through our data tables, whether it’s our standard tables or through the customized data tables you can create for yourself. Take the States Edition, for example. Do you want to know the first/last state to be admitted to the Union? Would you like to find out which states have the largest/smallest populations or which are most/least densely populated? What about the states with the highest/lowest percentages of foreign-born residents, females, or high school graduates? We’ve compiled a list of such questions that could be used as a quiz or a research assignment. For answers to the questions and much more, check out our States Edition Graphs and Tables page (we’ll also include the answers in the Comments area of this post).

States Edition Graphs and Tables Page via ProQuest CultureGrams

  1. Which was the first state to be added to the Union?
  2. Which was the last state to be added to the Union?
  3. Which is the largest state in terms of total area?
  4. Which is the smallest state in terms of total area?
  5. Which state has the largest population?
  6. Which state has the smallest population?
  7. Which is the most densely populated state?
  8. Which is the least densely populated state?
  9. Which state grew the fastest between 2010 and 2015?
  10. Which state grew the slowest between 2010 and 2015?
  11. Which state has the highest percentage of females?
  12. Which state has the lowest percentage of females?
  13. Which state has the highest percentage of foreign-born residents?
  14. Which state has the lowest percentage of foreign-born residents?
  15. Which state has the highest percentage of people under 18 years old?
  16. Which state has the lowest percentage of people under 18 years old?
  17. Which state has the highest percentage of graduates from high school?
  18. Which state has the lowest percentage of graduate from high school?
  19. Which state has the highest median household income?
  20. Which state has the lowest median household income?
  21. Which state has the highest average travel time to work?
  22. Which state has the lowest average travel time to work?

Let us know how you do. And are you surprised by any of the answers to these questions?

CultureGrams: New Interviews for Afghanistan and Comoros!

Blue Mosque – Shrine of Hazrat Ali, by Lukaszcom, via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve recently added interviews from two Afghan women to the Afghanistan country report. Hear first-hand what life is like in Afghanistan for Farah and Zohal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve also added interviews to the Comoros report! Take a look at them to get a feel for life in different areas in the Comoros Islands among different age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds.Fatima, female, age 29

Patrice, male, age 43

Nourou, female, age 9

 

Activities for the 100th Day of School

100th Day of School Collection Poster
by RubyDW is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Depending on which part of the U.S. you live in, your students will celebrate their 100th day of school pretty soon (it usually occurs in January or February each year). Many schools across the country celebrate the 100th day of school. It’s not only a milestone but also a great opportunity for teachers to practice math with their students. This is especially important in preschool and kindergarten, where students are learning their numbers. But it also provides good activities for all elementary-level students.

For example, you may ask your students to bring in “100” of something. It could be a collection of paperclips, or macaroni noodles, or buttons. The possibilities are endless! When my son was in preschool, he brought in a collection of 100 animal fact cards that we collected from National Geographic Little Kids magazines. We laid out all the cards on the floor and I helped him count all the way to 100. We also practiced counting by 10s. This activity is a good way to introduce more numbers.

See these fun activities that you can use in your classroom:

100th Day of School (Starfall)

Have a 100th Day of School Celebration (Scholastic)

100th Day of School Activities (K-5 Math)

Celebrate the 100th day of school!  (ReadWriteThink)

What Is the 100th Day of School? (VeryWell)

Celebrate the 100th Day of School (Education World)

In SIRS Discoverer, we love to find resources that teachers can use in their classrooms. See our activities page and math resources for more ideas. Also, see this cute story from Highlights for Children entitled 100 Things about a girl who is trying to find 100 things to bring in for the 100th day of school celebration.

Are you celebrating the 100th day of school? We want to know about it. Tweet us at #ProQuest or comment below!

SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: Black History Month

February is Black History Month! In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week and then in 1976 President Gerald Ford proclaimed February as “Black History Month.” African Americans have played vital roles in shaping the country’s past and present. We encourage you to observe Black History Month in your classroom and media center by teaching about African Americans. On SIRS Discoverer, young researchers can find articles and images on the accomplishments, history, culture, and heritage of African Americans. Here are samples of what they can find:

Frederick Douglass
George Kendall Warren [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • John Lewis — A vigorous civil rights worker, he has served as a Congressman from Georgia for more than 30 years. He is now the only organizer of the 1963 March on Washington who is still alive.
  • Frederick Douglass — Born into slavery, he was a journalist, public speaker, and well-known antislavery leader.
  • Sojourner Truth — Also born into slavery, she was an advocate for the abolitionist movement and women’s rights.
  • Ralph Bunche — A diplomat and a mediator working for the United Nations, he was the first African-American to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson — These barrier-breaking African-American athletes defied racist attitudes and became trailblazers in their sports.
  • Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison — Award-winning and prolific, these authors wrote about the experiences of African-American women.
  • Ruby Bridges, the Greensboro Four, and the Freedom Riders — These children and students played pivotal roles in the civil-rights movement.

How are you celebrating Black History Month in your library or classroom? Let us know in the comments or tweet us with #ProQuest. 

CultureGrams: What We Added in 2016

It’s time for an annual update on what we’ve added to CultureGrams in the past year. Our editorial team is definitely not standing still. The product just keeps getting better and better as we push forward on our commitment to providing high quality cultural, historical, and geographical information.

Faroe Islands Kids Report via ProQuest CultureGrams

This is just a partial list of accomplishments from 2016.

  • We added 24 new Kids Edition country reports to CultureGrams and are very near to completing that edition. Only two more countries to go and we’ll have reports for every country in the World Edition. That should happen in early 2017
  • We added 46 new interviews to the Faces of the World Interview collection.
  • CultureGrams is now integrated with Google Drive and Google Classroom.
  • We expanded our multimedia offerings by adding 430 new gallery photos, 73 new slideshows, and 102 new videos to CultureGrams.
  • We updated the Average Person infographics, which depict the demographic characteristics of a hypothetical average person in each country, highlighting factors such as income level, family size, language, and religion.
  • We updated all of our data tables.
  • We’re continuing with our regular and ongoing process of major updates and reviews of all CultureGrams reports and other content by native and in-country experts.

And the work continues in 2017. We’re already busy adding  interviews, photos, slideshows, video, etc. And we’re always working to improve our existing content. Stay tuned for what is to come!

By the way, if we haven’t said so recently or often enough, we really appreciate your interest in CultureGrams. We have fantastic customers and we are very grateful for you!

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!