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Posts Tagged ‘Kids Edition’

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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Passover 2017: Chag Sameach!

Jews Celebrating Passover. Lubok, XIXth century (image 1850), via Wikimedia Commons.

Jewish communities around the world are currently observing Passover (Pesach, in Hebrew)–one of the most important events in the Jewish calendar. So wish your Jewish friends chag sameach (happy festival)! Passover is a week-long celebration that takes place each year in early Spring, this year taking place between April 10-18th. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from ancient Egypt and God’s sparing or “passing over” Jewish homes during the final plague in Egypt. According to the Biblical story, the Israelites had to leave Egypt in such a hurry that they didn’t have time to wait for their bread to rise, taking with them only unleavened bread. As a reminder of the Israelites’ exodus out of Egypt, Jews today refrain from eating anything containing leaven (chametz) during Passover, eating unleavened products such as matzah (a type of flatbread) instead. Jews also eat matzah with bitter herbs such as horseradish, in remembrance of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt. Learn about Passover traditions in the CultureGrams Israel report.

Test your knowledge of Judaism with this quiz

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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CultureGrams — New Kids Country: Marshall Islands

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids edition country report!

Flag of the Marshall Islands via CultureGrams

The new Marshall Islands report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this country.

Here are some interesting Did You Knows about the Marshall Islands:

  • The average elevation of each island is just 7 feet (2 meters) above sea level.
  • Marshallese society is traditionally matrilineal (based on the mother’s family line), and land is passed down from one generation to the next through the mother’s line.
  • Elugelab is an extinct island that was used as a hydrogen bomb test site by the United States military and was blown up in 1954. The blast left behind a crater more than a mile wide and 165 feet (50 meters) deep.
  • Similar to the Hawaiian word aloha, the Marshallese word yokwe means “hello,” “good-bye,” and “love.”

Read about the the Marshallese culture of sharing and caring for one another, life as a kid, and favorite sports, all in this colorful new report.

Virtual Sistine Chapel Tour

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Italy—in addition to the daily, ahem, twice-daily gelato runs—was actually not part of Italy at all. It was the sovereign state of Vatican City (or the Holy See). I have been interested in the world’s smallest independent nation since helping to create the World Edition CultureGrams report on it (we have a Kids report too!).

It did not disappoint. Located in the heart of bustling Rome, The Vatican feels like a different country once you’re inside its walls. It’s still very busy, of course, as one of the world’s top tourist destinations, but the presence of Swiss Guards (a small security force comprised of Catholic Swiss men), the magnitude of St. Peter’s Basilica, and the concentration of masterpieces in such a small area make the Vatican a truly unique place.

A Swiss Guard stands at his post. Photo by Aaron Thompson.

The culmination of any tourist’s visit to the Vatican is, of course, the Sistine Chapel. And though you’re allowed to take all the photos you want in the huge complex of museums you must (get to) pass through on the way to Michelangelo’s crowning work, once you enter the chapel you are greeted with several Italian guards booming out the words “No foto! No foto!”  I have to admit I didn’t fully comply with the rule, though no one yelled at me for looking down in a sea of people looking up.

The floor of the Sistine Chapel. Photo by Rachel Ligairi.

As cool as it was to see in person, you can actually get a much better view of it on an official virtual tour. In addition to being able to see the chapel completely empty (in person it’s shoulder-to-shoulder), you can zoom in on different pieces of the artwork or just contemplate it in silence, without anyone yelling at you.

And in case you thought I was kidding about the gelato . . .

Photo by Rachel Ligairi.

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: 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

 

CultureGrams — New Kids Country: Togo

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids edition country report!

Flag of Togo via CultureGrams

The new Togo report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this country.

Here are some interesting Did You Knows about the Togo:

  • Togo is believed to have been named after a town on the shore of Lake Togo. The name comes from the Ewe words to (water) and go (shore).
  • Most homes in Togo do not have running water, so fetching water is a common daily chore for children.
  • Among the Ewe, babies are named after the day of the week they are born but are often given a personal first name as well.
  • To show respect, young people kneel when greeting an elder.

Read about the annual Evala festival, life as a kid, and traditional foods, all in this colorful new report.

CultureGrams — New Kids Country: U.S. Virgin Islands

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids edition country report!

Flag of the U.S. Virgin Islands via CultureGrams

The new U.S. Virgin Islands report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this country.

Here are some interesting Did You Knows about the U.S. Virgin Islands:

  • The U.S. Virgin Islands is the only location in the United States where people drive on the left side of the road.
  • There is an underwater national park in Trunk Bay, off the coast of Saint John. It is one of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean and is marked by underwater signs.
  • Famous impressionist painter Camille Pissarro was born in Saint Thomas.
  • The islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas each have a nickname. They are known as Twin City (Saint Croix), Love City (Saint John), and Rock City (Saint Thomas).

Read about the Carnival celebration, life as a kid, and traditional foods, all in this colorful new report.

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!