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Posts Tagged ‘SIRS Discoverer’

SIRS Discoverer: Pro/Con Leading Issues

It is important for elementary and middle school students to develop critical thinking and research skills. Often students are tasked with a research project on a controversial or difficult topic. To fulfill this need, SIRS Discoverer offers a Pro/Con Leading Issues feature that will help young researchers navigate through 60 debated social issues. Each topic lists several viewpoint articles where students can click through to full-text content. These articles provide context that help kids understand the viewpoints on these issues. In addition to articles, editorially-selected photos and political cartoons provide a visual perspective. Since editors create and maintain the topics, educators can be confident that the content will be reliable.

SIRS Discoverer Pro/Con Leading Issues

Each issue contains:

Topic Overview
Terms to Know
Essential Question
More Viewpoints
Visual Literacy
Critical Thinking Questions

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, Pro/Con Leading Issues is also one of the most popular features in the SIRS Discoverer product. We have heard from several media specialists and librarians that when a student is undecided on a subject to research, browsing through the topics often sparks an idea.

We realize the value of keeping the topics updated and so we have added 5 new topics to our Pro/Con Leading Issues feature at the start of the new school year:

Electoral College
Gender Identity
Health Care
Refugees
Vaccines

Educators, do your students use the Pro/Con Leading Issues feature?
Tweet #ProQuest #SIRSDiscoverer

Don’t have SIRS Discoverer? Request a free trial.

 

SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: Celebrate Canada

This July marks the 150th anniversary of the formation of the Canadian Confederation. Canada was just four provinces in 1867 and has now grown into ten provinces and three territories that reach from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans and go north to Arctic region. Canada is the second-largest country in the world. While the British monarch is head of state, the crown has no real power. Canada has two official languages: English and French. Students can learn all about Canada with the resources available on SIRS Discoverer.

Our Canada Facts offer snapshots of each Canadian province and territory. Canada Facts contain maps, flags, general statistics and links for further information.

Being such a beautiful and diverse country Canada has many points of geography worth exploring.

Located in northeastern Canada, Hudson Bay is home to polar bears that are believed to be impacted by global warming.

Polar Bears in Hudson Bay
Image from Pixabay

Spotted Lake in Canada’s Okanagan Valley is an unusual body of water with mineral “dots” in its basin.

Spotted Lake
Photo by anthropodermic via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

The St. Lawrence River is an important trade route between the United States and Canada.

St. Lawrence River
By Abxbay (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Educators, how will you spotlight Canada with your students? Tweet us at #ProQuest.

Don’t have SIRS Discoverer? Request a free trial.

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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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.

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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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.

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. 

SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: National Poverty in America Awareness Month

On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson introduced War on Poverty legislation in his annual State of the Union address. He emphasized improved education as one of the foundations of the program. On August 20, 1964, he signed a $947.5 million antipoverty bill that was intended to help more than 30 million U.S. citizens.

Signing of the EOA

LBJ Signing Economic Opportunity Act of 1964
By US Government (LBJ Library) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

National Poverty in America Awareness Month promotes knowledge and understanding of the realities of poverty in the United States. According to the U. S. Census Bureau in 2015, more than 43 million Americans–13.5 percent of the population–lived in poverty. Reasons are complex and multifaceted and the effects on the nation are immense.

Building in Odessa, Minnesota

Building in Odessa, Minnesota
Photo by Greg Gjerdingen via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

January’s Discoverer Spotlight of the Month explores the issue poverty in the United States. Use this month as an opportunity to examine poverty and perhaps even get involved in local anti-poverty campaigns. Direct your students to featured articles, images and websites to understand the many causes and ramifications of poverty. Dig deeper by researching the devastating Great Depression and the current impact of poverty on youth and families. Explore the Pro/Con Leading Issues: Poverty page as it highlights content for young researchers.

For more in-depth information:
Poverty USA
National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)
Talk Poverty

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