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Posts Tagged ‘Research’

Using SIRS Issues Researcher to Teach Vocabulary Development

By Jamie Gregory, Media Specialist, James F. Byrnes High School, Duncan, SC

To me, the best part about anticipating the start of a new school year is that nothing has happened yet. The entire year is a blank slate. Time is all yours. So why not plan to implement a research-based strategy this year that you know will work?

I am a long-time supporter of ProQuest databases. I was formerly an English teacher at the same high school where I am now one of two media specialists, and even before I arrived at my school back then, my media center subscribed to ProQuest resources. We are long-time believers!

My colleague Karen Hill and I have noticed that due to the implementation of technology over the past five years, students need a much different research skills set that we are not always providing them with the opportunities to learn. For example, not all databases use the same interface. Different keywords may be used to retrieve information on the same subjects. Does the database return PDF files of full-text articles? Abstracts? Is the keyword search more useful than the subject search? How do I save the article I want to use?

Vocabulary As a Research Skill

In my opinion, however, one of the most basic and important research skills is vocabulary. What are the words I should use to describe the information I want to find? Without a complex and prolific vocabulary, students won’t even be aware of the information they can’t find. It’s a librarian’s dream to teach these skills, to be sure, but for teachers, it often seems even more overwhelming on top of demands to teach content area information.

However, we as media specialists are continually striving to share ideas with teachers about how to embed information literacy skills into any content area.

Image Courtesy of Jamie Gregory

Use of a Keyword Log 

In search of ideas, this past February, I read “Doubling Up: authentic vocabulary development through the inquiry process” by Leslie Maniotes and Anita Cellucci published in the February 2017 issue of Teacher Librarian. Maniotes and Cellucci are two researchers involved in the development of the Guided Inquiry Design model, based on research conducted by Carol Kuhlthau. When I saw this article and read the first paragraph, one word came to mind: genius! I knew I wanted to implement the keyword log introduced in the article because it would be a useful step forward in encouraging students to develop and refine vocabulary skills necessary to the research process.

Image Courtesy of Jamie Gregory

Students use the keyword log as a method of self-reflection by recording each information search. Students record their progress when they discover new and different search terms; by recording the results of each search, they will learn which databases and which search terms provided them with the best information they needed. The process of using the keyword log begins with students using databases to find information.

We primarily use the SIRS Issues Researcher database with students. When first introducing students to SIRS, we show them how the issues marked with an asterisk indicate that it is a main category that will contain a list of related issues with essential questions, which helps with topic selection.

Military Ethics Main Category in SIRS Issues Researcher

We also show students that when they click on an essential question to view the topic page, they can also view additional critical thinking questions to help guide their topic selection.

Critical Thinking & Analysis Questions in SIRS Issues Researcher

Once students have conducted an information search, we show them the related search terms feature. It’s super easy to search related subject terms for vocabulary development, especially for students who don’t know too much about their topic. The subject terms are listed at the end of each article, which students can click on.

Subjects in Results List in SIRS Issues Researcher

The image below is a sample of some searches I performed during whole-class instruction after introducing the keyword log. It’s not perfect and it’s pretty simple, but that’s the scaffolding I needed to provide with this particular group of students.

Image Courtesy of Jamie Gregory

The students I worked with to use the keyword log when beginning their research all responded that it was a useful tool. They responded in a survey at the end of the unit that they learned search terms they previously didn’t know, using the keyword log helped get “all of the junky results out of the way,” it showed them what not to do when searching in the future, and it helped them keep track of their research.

Try Something New This Year

So this year, try something new that has been proven to work. The SIRS Issues Researcher database is an essential tool in implementing the keyword log because of its incredibly user-friendly interface, and the features it offers helps educators develop information literacy skills that students will be able to apply across all disciplines.

 

Jamie Gregory taught high school English and French for 8 years before completing the MLIS degree from the University of South Carolina. She is beginning her 5th year working as a high school media specialist at James F. Byrnes High School in Duncan, SC.

Back-to-School for Educators: ProQuest Is Here to Help

Are you ready to make or finalize lesson plans? Have you made your school year shopping trip yet? Do you know how you want to decorate your classroom? Educators have so much to do before the school year starts let alone during it. While there’s a lot to think about, having helpful tools ready to go and a checklist of what you need to do can make it easier. The ProQuest story is to curate enriching content, simplify workflows for our customers and connect with our vast community of educators, researchers, and librarians. As an editor that works on the Guided Research products, my department works hard to not just do all of the above but also to create new ideas and content that help students grow and thrive in K12 plus preparing for what comes after. Our editors do the research to come up with new Leading Issues and create them from beginning to end. We create new product features and curate the content that’s highlighted and we make sure our customers feel connected.

Simplifying an Educator’s School Year

Curating and Creating Content for All Researchers

SIRS Discoverer

Animal Facts and Pro/Con Leading Issues are two product features in SIRS Discoverer that were created in-house.

In collaboration with product management, Content Editor, Senior Jen Oms came up with the idea for Animal Facts and Content Editor, Senior Ilana Cohen came up with the idea for Pro/Con Leading Issues. Jen and Ilana both explained why they wanted these two features in SIRS Discoverer.

Before Animal Facts was created, Jen knew it was a feature SIRS Discoverer needed. She said the product had articles about animals, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted to simplify the time and process kids would have to go through to learn all the key facts on their favorite animals. She also wanted such a feature to complement the product. She knew SIRS Discoverer had articles on tigers for example. She wanted there to be an Animal Fact page for tigers too. Jen collaborated with another colleague Michelle Sneiderman to create what is now totaled at over 300 Animal Facts (with more being added). They modeled the idea on a 1-page table style of animal characteristics, conservation status and additional information like fun facts. Jen also said one of the main sources used to create Animal Facts came right from the encyclopedia content in SIRS Discoverer. Jen wanted Animal Facts to be robust and it is one of the most popular features in the SIRS Discoverer product.

Bobcat Animal Fact via SIRS Discoverer

Bobcat Animal Fact via SIRS Discoverer

The creation of Pro/Con Leading Issues for SIRS Discoverer seemed a logical decision. Ilana said it was modeled as an “entry-level pro/con research product for young audiences,” something the product didn’t have but would be beneficial. She created the initial pro/con issues and added supporting content in collaboration with a few other editors. These issues are created and updated dynamically on a yearly basis. While SIRS Issues Researcher includes main and sub-issues, SIRS Discoverer Pro/Con Leading Issues only contains main issues. It currently has 60 Pro/Con Leading Issues that students can choose from, and Ilana explained her process for choosing new ones to create includes looking at existing content and search reports. This feature also includes a Visual Literacy asset which presents a cartoon and pairs it with critical thinking questions. Pro/Con Leading Issues is also one of the most popular features in the SIRS Discoverer product.

Pro/Con Leading Issues via SIRS Discoverer

Pro/Con Leading Issues via SIRS Discoverer

SIRS Issues Researcher

Visual literacy, information literacy, and critical thinking are three skills the Guided Research products help build. SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issues are created in-house. Editors curate the content to support them that students can debate and discuss in and out of the classroom.

Recently, I worked with my colleague Jeff Wyman to make it possible for our editorial team to create charts and statistics in-house. Sometimes our content providers lack this and we wanted a way for ProQuest editors to fill the gap when it happens. Knowing how to read charts is a skill that students can continue to develop as they advance in their research and go on to college.

EU Favorability Chart Created by ProQuest Staff

EU Favorability Chart Created by ProQuest Staff

SIRS Issues Researcher also includes Curriculum Guides that are helpful in building information literacy, visual literacy, critical thinking, and research skills. These guides help students understand editorial cartoons, infographics, primary sources, research, statistics and writing arguments.

Both Leading Issues and the skills they support drive the ProQuest story. We simplify educators’ workflows and not just curate, but create too. SIRS Issues Researcher delves into the heart of the issues affecting people all around the world every day. It gives students the chance to explore topics they may have never thought of before and think critically about them.

Connecting with Customers and Our Community

ProQuest Guided Research products equip students to learn information and media literacy skills. Free trials are available.

Find us on Facebook or Tweet us @ProQuest. We love our customers to reach out and say hello!

10 New Animal Fact Pages in SIRS Discoverer!

Kids of all ages love to learn about animals. SIRS Discoverer’s Animal Facts is a great place to start when your students are doing a research project. There are nearly 300 animals to choose from!

Animal Facts via SIRS Discoverer

Have your students explore these 10 newly created Animal Fact pages in SIRS Discoverer, along with a fun graphic organizer that can be used in the classroom.

Each page contains a full profile and description of the animal and includes interesting, fun facts:

Antelope: There are 90 species of antelopes in the Bovidae family.

Baboon: Baboons are found in large groups called troops.

Badger: Badgers are solitary animals and live alone except during mating season.

Collared Peccary: These animals look a lot like pigs but they are not in the same family as pigs.

Gray Whale: Gray whales live in groups called pods.

Marten: Martens are members of the weasel family.

Mole: Moles spend most of their lives underground in burrows and tunnels that they dig.

Proboscis Monkey: Male proboscis monkeys have very large noses on their faces while females have much smaller noses.

Pronghorn: Pronghorns are the only species in the family Antilocapridae.

Sperm Whale: Sperm whales are the largest toothed whales living in the ocean.

Download this animal research graphic organizer to use in your classroom.

When doing assignments on animals, direct your students to Animal Facts for all the information they need for an elementary-level research project.

Don’t have SIRS Discoverer? Free trials are available.

The Origins of U.S. Libraries

Most students today, born after the Internet became widely used about 20 years ago, probably have no concept of the idea of using the printed word exclusively to do homework, reports, or research. Back in those dark days, doing almost any assignment meant a trip to the library. Without the magic of the Internet, you had to go through the process of locating an actual physical copy of a book, magazine, newspaper or microfilm that contained the exact information you wanted. Finding enough information for a simple 500-word report could take hours.

With the advent of the Internet, information databases, digital scanners, e-books, cloud-based storage and other technologies, libraries today are very different than they were even 20 years ago. On this Throwback Thursday (#TBT), we explore the origins and some of the milestone events in the development of libraries in the United States.

1638: John Harvard, a young minister in Charlestown, Massachusetts died and left his 400 volume library as well as half of his estate to the local, newly established college, originally called the New College. In his honor, the oldest institution of higher education in the United States was renamed Harvard College. The collection has since grown to about 18 million volumes.

Harvard University Campus & Library

Harvard University Campus & Library (public domain) via Library of Congress

1731: Benjamin Franklin founded the first successful lending library in the U.S. The Library Company of Philadelphia was a subscription library supported by its shareholders, as it is to this day.

Benjamin Franklin Opening First Subscription Library in Philadelphia

Benjamin Franklin Opening First Subscription Library in Philadelphia
(public domain) via Library of Congress

1814-1815: The initial collection of the Library of Congress was in ashes after the British burned it on August 24, 1814 during the War of 1812. In 1815 Congress approved the purchase of Thomas Jefferson‘s 6,487-volume library for $23,950 as the foundation to replace the one lost in the fire.

1833: The first tax-supported public library in the United States (and the world!) was founded in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

1886-1919: Industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated more than $40 million to pay for 1,679 new public library buildings in communities across America.

Carnegie Library, Girard, Kansas

Carnegie Library, Girard, Kansas (public domain) via National Park Service

1876: The American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world, was founded. Melvil Dewey published A Classification and Subject Index for Cataloging and Arranging Books and Pamphlets in a Library, better known as the “Dewey Decimal System.”

Card Catalog

Card Catalog (public domain) via Library of Congress

1904: The nation’s first bookmobile was created to deliver books to the residents of Washington County, Maryland. The custom outfitted horse-drawn Concord wagon was the brainchild of librarian Mary Lemist Titcomb. It could display 200 volumes and store another 2,360 behind its shelves.

Washington County Mobile Library

Washington County Mobile Library, (public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

1916: The first presidential library, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center Library, opened in Fremont, Ohio.

1935: The Works Progress Administration library service program gives support in labor and funds to all types of libraries.

Photograph of Works Progress Administration Worker Receiving Paycheck

Photograph of Works Progress Administration Worker Receiving Paycheck
(public domain) via National Archives and Records Administration

1938: Eugene Power, a pioneer in microphotography, established University Microfilms. He introduced microfilm to libraries, and led the format to its standard use for preservation, sharing, and document storage.

1960’s: The Library of Congress developed Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) in the mid-1960’s. The intent was to create a computer-readable format that could be used for bibliographic records, enabling libraries to download cataloging, share information, and search all parts of a cataloging record. The MARC format structure became an official national standard in 1971 and an international one in 1973.

To learn more about some of these events in U.S. library history, explore these websites available on SIRS WebSelect:

What Are Baby Animals Called?

Kids love learning about animals. It’s a fascinating topic for children of all ages. One question I get from my kids is “What are baby animals called?” Some answers are easier than others. For example, cats are called kittens, dogs are called puppies, and so on. But some are not so easy to guess and might take a little research to find.

To celebrate our SIRS Discoverer Animal Facts feature, here are 10 examples of what some baby animals are called.

Swan

Animal Facts via SIRS Discoverer

Swans are called cygnets.

Alligators are called hatchlings.

Eagles are called fledglings or eaglets.

Goats are called kids.

Otters are called whelps.

Platypuses are called puggles.

Rats are called pinkies.

Spiders are called spiderlings.

Turkeys are called poults.

Gooses are called goslings.

When doing assignments on animals, direct your students to Animal Facts for all the information they need for an elementary-level research project. You’ll find Animal Facts on the front page under Explore Features on the updated interface of SIRS Discoverer.

10 Wacky Animals Perfect for Student Research!

Animals are so much fun to learn about! My kids love to hear fun facts about animals. It’s so fun they don’t even realize they are learning.

To celebrate Animal Facts, a popular feature in SIRS Discoverer, here are facts about 10 wacky animals that you probably don’t know exist and that are perfect for research!

Animal Facts via SIRS Discoverer

1. Kinkajous are mammals that live in Central America and South America. They have long prehensile tails to help them grip tree branches.

2. Narwhals are a type of whale. They are marine mammals and have long spiral tusks that can reach up to 9 feet long.

3. Cicadas are insects that can live underground as nymphs for up to 17 years.

4. Mole crabs are types of invertebrates. They have hard outer exoskeletons and live in the swash zone on many beaches.

5. Frilled lizards are reptiles. They are named for the large frill around their necks. They raise their frills to scare away other animals.

6. Molas, also called sunfish, are very large and unusual looking creatures. They are the largest bony fish living in the ocean.

7. Kiwis are small birds that can only be found in New Zealand. They have long, pointy bills and they cannot fly.

8. Fossas are mammals that live only in the forests of Madagascar. They look like cats but are actually related to mongooses.

9. Tarsiers are mammals that have very large eyes which help them see better in the dark.

10. Kakapos are birds. They are the largest parrots in the world. They are nocturnal and cannot fly.

When doing assignments on animals, direct your students to Animal Facts for all the information they need for an elementary-level research project. You’ll find Animal Facts on the front page under Explore Features on the updated interface of SIRS Discoverer.

Are You Catching Your Students Reading?

When is the last time you caught your students reading for fun?

I ask the question for a good reason…it’s Get Caught Reading Month!

Girl Reading <br \> by  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There’s nothing like curling up with a good book. But what about nestling in with a computer?

Well, there’s lots of ways to Get Caught Reading with SIRS Discoverer. You might want to share some of the below ideas with your students–they are great ways to catch them reading. They can acquire great information and research skills, too.

If they love animals, they should visit our Animal Facts. Each Animal Fact presents lots of information on a specific amphibian, arachnid, bird, fish, insect, invertebrate, mammal, or reptile. Students will learn how these animals behave, what they look like, what they eat, where they live, if they are endangered, and more. There are more than 120 animals from which to choose, and new Animal Facts are added each week. They’re easy to use, easy to read, and easy to use as research material. Maybe you could ask your class to answer a question about three different animals to get them started: How big is the largest tarantula? (Answer: 11 inches.) How long can beavers stay under water? (Answer: 15 minutes.) How do komodo dragons kill their prey? (Answer: deadly bacteria in their mouths.)

Are you talking about controversial topics in your classroom? Your students may be interested in reading about issues that affect kids, like bullying, homework, or school uniforms. Or they can delve into issues that affect our world, like endangered species, global warming, or pollution. Click on Leading Issues for a list of more than 40 important topics. Each Leading Issue includes an overview, terms to know, an essential question, and viewpoints. Students can find out when the term “junk food” was created, what “curfew laws” are, facts about the cursive-writing debate, and more. Perhaps their research and reading about controversial topics will even spawn some classroom debates!

Sometimes reading can lead to…art projects? Yes! And quizzes, jokes, science projects, and a little magic, too.  Activities or Science Fair Explorer will capture students’ attention and motivate them to put what they read into action. Jokes and riddles abound…and promise to make for a hilarious cafeteria lunchtime. Students can take quizzes on flamingos or inventions, learn how to make baseball gloves out of milk jugs, discover magic tricks using math, find science experiments to do in bathroom, and much more. Cool!

I bet your students wouldn’t think to go to SIRS Discoverer for fiction…but they can! The database feature Fiction offers hundreds of stories organized by topic, including tales about animals, holidays, school, and sports;  diary entries; historical fiction; mysteries; poetry; plays; and science fiction. More than 150 myths and legends, including folktales and fairy tales from all around the world. Students may be inspired to write their own fiction after reading stories written by kids.

Do your students have research projects? Well, there is an online library of nonfiction books available on SIRS Discoverer to help them. Nonfiction Books offers online books on topics such as history, sports, technology, and more. Titles include Crime Scene Investigator, Confronting History, Anne Frank, Hurricanes, and What Is It Made Of?. The books are presented in their complete form, including covers and photos.

It’s always fantastic to catch your students reading…whether they be with a book, magazine, desktop, laptop, or handheld device, they are feeding themselves with knowledge and fun. SIRS Discoverer celebrates Get Caught Reading Month with this month’s Spotlight of the Month. We highlight content from our informative Database Features. Send your students there this month…and check it out yourself and get caught reading!

 

Six ProQuest Resources for Holocaust Remembrance Day

We teach so that genocide on a mass scale, the specialty of the past century, can be circumvented in the future.”
― Bogdan Michalski, Why Should We Teach about the Holocaust?

As the quote above states, learning about genocide is more than a history lesson–it is an essential life lesson. Never forget. For this reason, the United Nations General Assembly designates each January 27–the anniversary of the liberation of concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau–as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day, the United Nations encourages member states to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and to develop educational programs to prevent future acts of genocide.

As many countries, including Germany, Austria and France, and several U.S. states have mandatory Holocaust education in the schools, I highlight six ProQuest products where you can find a wealth of resources designed to meet the needs of students learning about the Holocaust and genocide.

1. ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher contains a Human Rights Leading Issue, which includes sub issues on Holocaust Denial and Genocide. Here, students can find timelines with links, overviews and articles on multiple perspectives to support their research. Perfect for debates or papers analyzing more than one side to an issue, each sub issue contains an essential question with supporting pro con articles. The Holocaust Denial essential question asks students the following question:

Should Holocaust denial be a crime punishable by law?

human rights

Visual Browse of the Human Rights Leading Issue, ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

 

2. eLibrary offers more than fifty well-crafted Research Topic pages on the Holocaust, genocide and related issues. These pages are powerful visual testimonies with links to carefully selected articles, websites as well as a trove of primary source documents, videos and images.  Students can find these pages via keyword search or by clicking on the following link on the search page:

eLibrary link to list of Research Topics

Screenshot of eLibrary link to list of Research Topics

Rescue of the Danish Jews (see below) is one such Research Topic page:

Rescue of the Danish Jews

Example Research Topic Page, ProQuest eLibrary

 

3. Access CultureGrams to get concise historical overviews and maps of the countries in which the Holocaust occurred. CultureGrams is a fantastic resource full of reliable, up-to-date cultural content, including primary source interviews, videos and more. Students researching the Holocaust can use it to compare contemporary society with the ideologies, policies and governing methods of the totalitarian regimes during the time of the Holocaust.

CultureGrams: Germany

Screenshot of Germany in CultureGrams

 

4. History Study Center has in-depth study units with historical reference material on the Holocaust, Genocide in the Twentieth Century and more. Each unit includes both primary and secondary sources, including biographies, maps and video clips.

history study center

The Holocaust Study Unit, ProQuest History Study Center

 

5. Historical Newspapers (Graphical) offers a unique collection on the Holocaust with full-text newspaper articles from that time period. Students can access the collection via the timeline or the Topics tab.

historic newspaper article

Nov. 12, 1938, New York Times article via ProQuest Historical News Graphical

 

6. ProQuest Research Companion is a terrific resource that supports information literacy, writing and research skills to help students to effectively find, verify and use information. One of the valuable tools in this resource is the Source Evaluation Aid, which provides website information, such as top level domain, site owner and site description. This tool also indicates whether or not a particular site a student accesses online is a possible hate site, which is useful because sometimes it is not readily apparent whether or not a site might belong to a hate group.

Screenshot of the Source Evaluation Aid tool in ProQuest Research Companion

Screenshot of the Source Evaluation Aid tool in ProQuest Research Companion. The red flag alerts users that the website accessed is a possible hate site. The URL entered in this example belongs to the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH), which is listed in the Southern Poverty Law Center as an active Holocaust Denial group.

We are constantly adding new material to our products. If you have suggestions for new Holocaust topics for consideration for our products, feel free to let us know in the comments section below or tweet us at #ProQuest.

Empowering Millennials for College and Career

Careers Research Topic Guide Screencap via ProQuest eLibrary

Careers Research Topic Guide Screencap via ProQuest eLibrary

Millennials face different hurdles than their parents when it comes to college and career. Careers requiring college educations are highly sought, but for some, financing a $100,000 education just isn’t plausible. It’s hard to logic moving hundreds or thousands of miles away to pursue opportunities that may or may not lead to steady careers later on. That being said, it’s important for millennials to build skills and know how to leverage skills and experiences to land jobs and thrive in them. Traditional 4 year universities, vocational schools or community colleges offer opportunities to gain skills but they need not limit themselves to these choices.

Millennials may need to go beyond traditional strategies and explore new pathways to career readiness:

“The world has changed from when we were kids. The sentiment ‘it’s a competitive market out there,’ means that your children need to be creative and think outside of the box when looking for work experiences. To help them come out on top, we must first inform them of all the options that are available to them. Then we have to expose them to real world opportunities and experiences that will help them decide what pathway they want to follow and will ultimately help them come out on top of the crowd.”–4 Things Parents Should Know To Help Children Navigate Today’s Job Market, Career Cruising Blog

Professional experiences–including but not limited to internships, temporary work, part-time or full-time jobs and volunteering–all serve as valuable stepping stones to future career paths. Experience is key. To succeed as adults, children and teens can discover lessons from their mistakes. They can learn what they like and dislike by exploring different industries. The more skills, experience, and industry intelligence they gain, the more they will be ready for the rest of their lives.

On the pathway of knowledge, learning can guide the career inquiry process. ProQuest understands how to simplify the research process so that students of all ages can not only feel ready for college and career but can also be empowered to select their next pathway. ProQuest learning resources offer a wealth of information to explore a myriad of industries. Need a place to start on a career pathway? Try the eLibrary Research Topic Guide: Careers.

Fear Blank Pages No More!

The New Year is here. If one of your resolutions is to make research easier, take a look at our newest product: ProQuest Research Companion.

pqrc

Credit: ProQuest

In the age of readily-available information, researchers often find themselves staring at a blank page. Many students say that the most difficult part of their research assignment is just getting started.

Likewise, librarians and educators often don’t have more than brief “one shot” sessions with students to teach them the effective research skills necessary to be successful in their academic research.

How could this logjam break free?

Let ProQuest Research Companion guide the way through practical tools and learning videos.

Learn more at the Product Research Companion product page.

Or better yet, try it for yourself with a free trial.