Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Exploring the International Space Station Library

It’s not unusual to think of books and other types of media when discussing libraries, but we usually don’t associate floating in space with the word library (although you may if you’re deep in your imagination…but I digress.) Believe it or not, there’s an informal library of books and media on the International Space Station, much of which was left by astronauts. While it isn’t huge, it has continued to grow over the years. To illustrate what media you may find aboard the International Space Station, I’ve made an infographic. Thanks to a couple of Freedom of Information Act requests listed in the sources section of the infographic, some details about the number and types of materials on board were found.

And for more information on the International Space Station, visit the SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issue page which highlights invaluable resources and editorially selected articles to help students debate and discuss the International Space Station both in the classroom and outside it.

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Drive-In Theater Anniversary, Pre-Summer Movie Study

By now school is winding down in most places, and students and educators are getting ready for some summer fun. It just so happens that today is the anniversary of an icon of summer entertainment: the drive-in movie theater. The first permanent drive-in was opened by Richard Hollingshead, Jr. in Pennsauken, New Jersey, on June 6, 1933. Although it didn’t last long, it started a craze that peaked in the 1950s, when more than 4,000 theaters were operating. That number has dwindled to a few hundred, with the latest challenge being the movie industry’s transition to expensive digital projection systems.

Lawrence of Arabia Research Topic

Lawrence of Arabia RT, eLibrary

Okay, so eLibrary doesn’t have a Research Topic on drive-ins, but it does have a number of pages related to film history, genres and specific movies. If you are still in school and you need to fill some of the last days with something fun but meaningful, how about encouraging your students to watch some great movies over the summer. You could discuss film criticism, the relationship between films and their literary source materials or just let students scoop up some trivia. If you are already out of school and you are still reading this, you might as well check them out for yourself and use them to enhance your own movie enjoyment as you take a much-needed break from school.

Motion Pictures
Talking Films
2001: A Space Odyssey

Gone with the Wind
The Godfather Films
Star Wars
Apocalypse Now
Lawrence of Arabia
Singin’ in the Rain
Alfred Hitchcock

This a limited list; we have plenty of pages on film directors, actors and movies. Just search around.

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.


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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Fantastic Beasts and Where to…Celebrate the Movie

J.K. Rowling Research Topic in ProQuest eLibrary

J.K. Rowling wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in 2001 while simultaneously writing the main Harry Potter series of novels. Devoted Potter fans will note that “Fantastic Beasts” actually makes an appearance in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as the name of one of Harry’s required textbooks. Following the success of the Harry Potter movie franchise, Rowling makes her screenwriting debut in the prequel by the same name.

Eddie Redmayne

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

Set in the 1920s, this adventure follows wizard Newt Scamander as he arrives in New York for a brief stay and No-Maj (American Muggle) Jacob Kowalski who accidentally lets some of Newt’s beasts escape from a briefcase. The ensuing endangerment takes place decades before Harry Potter steps foot into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Go experience your favorite characters come to life on the big screen starting Friday (November 18), or stop by your library or bookstore and pick up a copy of the book.

Newt Scamander

Photo credit: natalie419 via Foter.com / CC BY

We have compiled five ways that Muggles, Witches and Wizards alike can prepare for viewing what is bound to be pure magic!

1. Attend a Library Event

Check your local library or bookstore’s website and see if they are hosting any Potter-themed events. Here are some events we found:

Kent District Library

Lawrence Public Library

East Lansing Public Library

2. Create Your Own Butterbeer Recipe

After experimenting with a few different ingredients, this is the recipe we came up with:

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 bottle cream soda (chilled)

Allow ice cream to soften. Blend softened butter, sugar, and spices in a bowl. Add to ice cream and freeze. Fill each glass with a scoop of ice cream mixture and pour cream soda over it. Enjoy!


Butterbeer Ingredients – Minus the softened butter, which we had already melted in bowl behind the cream soda [Photo courtesy of Kimberly Carpenter]


Chilled Butterbeer [Photo courtesy of Kimberly Carpenter]


Editors Kimberly and Juliana [Photo courtesy of Kimberly Carpenter]


3. Create Wizard Crafts

Create your very own magic with these crafts:

DIY Harry Potter Wands

DIY Wizard Suitcase

DIY Mirror of Erised

4. Design Your Own Fantastic Beast

Design your own Fantastic Beast by using SIRS Discoverer Animal Facts to research fascinating animals. Combine the physical description, behavior, and habitat of different animals to create your own creature. Create a drawing of your Fantastic Beast.

5. Museum Discoveries

Explore interactive events, programs, or see the movie in IMAX:

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Harvard Museum of Natural History



We’ll see you at the movie!

40th Anniversary of “Jaws” & Increased Shark Attacks: Coincidence?

"Jaws" Research Topic

“Jaws” Research Topic
via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Forty years ago this summer, theater audiences were being literally scared out of the water by Steven Spielberg’s film Jaws.” Released in June 1975, the movie went on to become the highest-grossing film of its time and the first to earn $100-million at the box office. The movie, based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel of the same name, showcased the acting of Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss, as well as an Oscar-winning score by John Williams.

Cover of Peter Benchley's 1974 Novel "Jaws"

Cover of Peter Benchley’s 1974 Novel “Jaws”
Roger Kastel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Production of the movie overcame the obstacles of filming at sea and the myriad problems with the mechanical shark (named “Bruce” after Spielberg’s lawyer) to become the first true summer “blockbuster.”

While Jaws was making a killing at the box office, audiences were staying clear of the beaches in the summer of 1975. The film was blamed for reduced beach attendance and the increased number of reported shark attacks.


Jump ahead 40 years to the Summer of 2015, there appears to be an increase in the number of shark attacks. The highly-publicized pair of attacks in North Carolina, occurring less than 2 hours apart, served as a brutal reminder that shark attacks still occur with some consistency. In fact, in just a 3-week period in June-July 2015, there were 7 reported shark attacks off the coast of North Carolina alone. In 2014, Volusia County, Florida led the nation in the number of swimmers bitten by sharks. According to the International Shark Attack File, which tracks shark-human interaction, the number of attacks has grown steadily over the past several decades.

Great White Shark

Photo of a Great White Shark CCO [Public Domain] Pixabay

Graphic of a Great White Shark

Great White Shark Graphic
CCO [Public Domain] Pixabay









While recent shark attacks put the fear of Great White Sharks at the forefront of the public’s mind, the risk should be kept in perspective; bees, wasps and snakes are responsible for more deaths each year than sharks.

To learn more about sharks and shark conservation, search the many resources available in eLibrary.


Summertime Flicks

"Titanic" opened in U.S. movie theaters on December 19, 1997. Most of the story takes place aboard the ill-fated "RMS Titanic" during her maiden voyage in 1912. The movie won 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture of 1997. The film inspired a legion of devoted fans but was also widely criticized for rampant historical inaccuracies. The film starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett and was directed by James Cameron. <br \> Image courtesy of the Advertising Archives Limited, via ProQuest SIRS Renaissance [Public Domain]

“Titanic” opened in U.S. movie theaters on December 19, 1997. Most of the story takes place aboard the ill-fated “RMS Titanic” during her maiden voyage in 1912. The movie won 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture of 1997. The film inspired a legion of devoted fans but was also widely criticized for rampant historical inaccuracies. The film starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett and was directed by James Cameron.
Image courtesy of the Advertising Archives Limited, via ProQuest SIRS Renaissance [Public Domain]

Summer is a season for picnicking, swimming, playing at the park, or reading a book while lying in the sun. But when the days get too hot or if outdoor activities are paused due to rain, movies are a fun alternative. But how do you choose among the diverse array of films available in the theaters?

Special effects and sensational stories make for blockbuster films that moviegoers attend in droves, such as this summer’s “World War Z” and “Superman.” Pedro Almodovar’s comedy “I’m So Excited” may suit those of you seeking a foreign-film experience. A fan of Emma Watson of the “Harry Potter” franchise? Check out “The Bling Ring,” based on a true story of a glamour-obsessed teenage thief. Want to sit back and laugh with animated characters? “Monsters University” will fit the bill. Or be moved and inspired by globally significant films featured at this summer’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival, including the documentaries “99 Percent” and “The Undocumented.” To pair literature and film, “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” may be the perfect fit.

Whatever your preference, get to the movie theater and enjoy! And be sure to check out SIRS Renaissance for articles on summer films. Feel free to expand your search to learn more about motion pictures, including silent films, foreign films, Hollywood films, independent films, and documentary films.