Posts Tagged ‘SIRS Issue Researcher’

TDIH: History and Pro/Con of Coca-Cola

Drink Coca-Cola 5 cents

Drink Coca-Cola 5 cents (1889 print)
Credit: Library of Congress [No known restrictions on publication.]

The date was March 29, 1886. Pharmacist John Pemberton was hard at work in his laboratory, brewing a concoction intended to cure various ills including headaches, indigestion, and hangovers. Instead, Pemberton created something that would go on to become one of the most popular soft drinks of all time—Coca-Cola.

Here are five facts you may not have known about Coca-Cola:

  1. The original Coca-Cola formula was made with coca leaf, which is used to make cocaine, and kola nuts, which contained caffeine. In the early 20th century, the coca leaves were removed from the formula, but the caffeine remained.
  2. In May 1886, the first glass of Coca-Cola was sold for five cents at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta.  It was not immediately popular, generating only $50 in sales through the end of the year.
  3. Pemberton sold his formula to Ada Candler, an Atlanta businessman. Candler promoted Coca-Cola as a “delicious and refreshing” soft drink and its popularity spread.
  4. In 1899, three Tennessee entrepreneurs purchased exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola.  Their price? Just $1. They developed the distinctive contoured bottle that is still used today.
  5. “The Pause That Refreshes” was one of the first advertising slogans used to market Coca-Cola. It appeared in an advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post in 1929. Over time, Coca-Cola’s advertising attempted to connect the brand with fun and good times, whether it was singing “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” or inviting friends to “Share a Coke.”
Woman Drinking Coca Cola

Credit: Pixabay [Public Domain]

The Pro/Con of Coca-Cola

Today Coca-Cola is one of the most globally recognized brands, but that does not translate into universally loved. Health organizations have criticized Coca-Cola for containing too much sugar and contributing to rising rates of diabetes and obesity. This has led some cities and states to consider levying a “junk food tax” on sales of Coca-Cola and other soft drinks. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took it a step further and proposed banning the sales of “super-size” soft drinks at fast food restaurants.

SIRS Issues Researcher has an entire Leading Issue dedicated to Food and Nutrition that can be used to bring the invention of Coca-Cola into your classroom today. Students can read opposing viewpoints and Essential Questions on various issues, including Junk Food Taxes, School Lunches, and Obesity. For historical background, they can also access timelines with key events related to Food and Nutrition.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.


Services for the Homeless at Libraries

Atrium, San Francisco Public Library

Atrium in the San Francisco Public Library [Photo courtesy of Katherine Jardine, Public Relations Officer, San Francisco Public Library]

One of the SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issues my colleague Amy and I work on at ProQuest is Homelessness. Learning about the different challenges the homeless face on a daily basis, we wanted to know more about what is being done to help them. After some initial research, we came across the San Francisco Public Library and Leah Esguerra who was hired there as the nation’s first library social worker helping homeless patrons. Here’s what we learned from our conversation with Leah Esguerra and an infographic highlighting the different services offered for homeless patrons at some libraries.

Typical Work Day

Leah Esguerra has been a social worker at San Francisco Public Library for almost eight years (she contracts out from the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team) and described to us how her work has evolved and changed over time. Today, she has a team of eight people, 7 are outreach workers known as Health and Safety Associates (HASAs). The HASAs are employees who have dealt with homelessness at some point in their lives. The goal is for the HASAs to link homeless patrons with outreach and resources they can use on their own. She supervises the outreach workers, who work in four shifts.

They have a visible place in the library, known as The Spot where patrons can check in and up with the HASAs. In addition to working with the outreach workers, Esguerra does walkthroughs and acts as a consultant for staff in dealing with situations that arise with patrons. She answers questions about social services, behavioral issues, and mental health. Some days, she sees as many as 15-30 people.

The library also works to establish community partnerships with Veteran’s Affairs, Lava Mae  (a service providing mobile showers for the homeless) and others.

The Role of Health and Safety Associates (HASAs)

The HASAs do outreach in the bathrooms to find people who are inappropriately using the bathrooms (for example, sleeping in the stalls or bathing) and use their own experience as formerly homeless to help and to tell them about places they can go to for help. The HASAs provide inspiration and patrons are drawn to them because of relatable experiences.

Some of the original HASAs have moved on, continuing to grow in their line of work. One is in civil service and another is now a senior case manager.

Biggest Challenges

Challenges include the housing crisis in the Bay area. Esguerra’s original position 8 years ago was tied to finding housing. She would link homeless patrons with single room occupancies. Now, finding housing is a tougher issue. Finding housing is possible, but it often takes more than a year. They went from 400 to 30+ available rooms. She also said she has little access to these rooms and the rooms are not solely for library use. Another challenge presented itself with displacement among the elderly.

Rewards of the Job

People will come back to Esguerra after many years and thank her for her help. They tell her they are working and still have a house or that she’s helped them deal with mental health issues. She gets calls during the holidays from people she’s helped as well.

Esguerra said the HASAs are seen a safety net too. Staff will first call the HASAs if homeless patrons are causing a disturbance instead of calling security.

Best Practices for Homeless Outreach Programs

It is essential for libraries to have social services and/or social workers. Libraries without the means available to hire a social worker can partner with universities or create other partnerships with community organizations. Social service programs in libraries are great for both staff and patrons. Esguerra told us how the homeless have said the library is their sanctuary. She and her team at the library consider themselves ambassadors. They make the homeless feel included in the community. Having HASAs work at the library brings a different face of homelessness to the staff. The HASAs work very hard and are really good at what they do. They humanize the homeless and raise the level of compassion and understanding.

“Libraries are the community living room.” — Leah Esguerra

Esguerra says other libraries who are interested in starting a social services program should definitely give it a try. She said there are many ways to accomplish it.

Today, the movement is international. The San Francisco Public Library has inspired libraries and institutions elsewhere around the world – including Korea, Japan, and Australia – to implement their own social service programs.

Libraries and Homelessness [Infographic]

World Autism Awareness Day Is on April 2

World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day, which is April 2, seeks to raise awareness and foster a better understanding of the challenges faced by those with autism. The day is also meant to celebrate the unique strengths and contributions of autistic individuals.

Autism spectrum disorder is an incurable, lifelong neurological condition characterized by obsessive interests, repetitive behaviors, and decreased communication and social interaction skills. The origins of autism are still unknown; however, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that environmental, biological, and genetic factors may be contributing causes.

According to the CDC, 1 in 68 American children has autism. Boys are far more likely to be diagnosed: they account for 1 in 42 autism cases, while girls account for 1 in 189. Autism rates have surged in recent years, but many experts believe that higher rates can be at least partially attributed to higher awareness and better detection.

Autism exists on a spectrum; there are great variations in the degree to which autistic individuals exhibit signs and symptoms. Those with high-functioning autism, commonly (although no longer officially) referred to as Asperger’s Syndrome, have decreased communication and social interaction skills, but signs and symptoms oftentimes go unnoticed by others. Many of those with high-functioning autism live undiagnosed, which has led to a lost generation who grew up before autism screening became common. Those on the lower-functioning end of the spectrum have more obvious signs and symptoms such as being nonverbal and need far more assistance.

Despite challenges in some areas, autistic individuals excel in many other areas. Some of the unique strengths of autistic individuals include original thinking, intense focus, attention to detail, and logical reasoning. When these unique strengths are nurtured, autistic individuals have the potential to flourish within—and contribute to—society.

Bring autism awareness to the classroom with SIRS Issues Researcher. Our autism Leading Issue page includes a topic overview, analysis, viewpoints, critical thinking questions, and relevant search results.

SIRS Leading Issue: Autism by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues

SIRS Leading Issue: Autism
by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues

If you don’t already have ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher, request a trial.

Election 2016: Should Felons Be Allowed to Vote?

Jail Cells

Jail cells by TryJimmy
[Public Domain] via Pixabay

There is one group of Americans who will not be voting this election season. Nearly six million Americans nationwide are denied the right to vote because of laws that prohibit people with felony convictions from voting. A disproportionate number of those denied the right to vote due to criminal convictions are African Americans, leading some to charge that such felony disenfranchisement laws unfairly target minorities.

Only two states—Maine and Vermont—allow unrestricted voting rights for people who are felons. Both states permit voting while incarcerated for a felony offense. The other end of the spectrum includes three states—Florida, Iowa and Kentucky—that impose lifetime voting bans to all persons with felony convictions unless the governor expressly restores the right to vote.

For the Classroom

Students can learn more about Felony Disenfranchisement in ProQuest’s SIRS Issues Researcher by clicking on the Convicted Felons’ Rights Leading Issue in the A-Z List. The Convicted Felons’ Rights issue contains editorially-selected materials, including an overview and an essential question, Should felons be allowed to vote after they have served their time? Supporting pro/con articles help students gain an understanding of the different sides of the issue so they can present a cogent argument in a paper or a debate.

Take Our Three-Part Poll

(If you can’t view the poll below in your browser, you can also view it on Playbuzz.)

The Common Core:
Repealed in Name Only


Forty-two states and the District of Columbia are currently participating in the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS). Most states quickly adopted the CCSS after they were introduced in 2010. Since then, however, public opinion has turned dramatically against the CCSS. According to the 2015 EdNext Survey, 35% of Americans oppose the CCSS, which is up from 26% in 2014. The same poll found that 50% of teachers oppose the CCSS, up substantially from 40% in 2014. Repealing the adoption of the CCSS is becoming increasingly popular, particularly among politicians. So what does all this mean for testing and standards? Is this the end for the Common Core?

States are quickly withdrawing from multi-state, Common Core-aligned tests. Out of the two federally funded Common Core testing consortia (the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), PARCC, in particular, has seen a dramatic decline in participation. In 2010, 25 states and the District of Columbia were PARCC members. That number has fallen to seven, with Massachusetts being the most recent state to abandon the test. Massachusetts, like many other states that have dropped PARCC, will create its own test. Standardized testing is here to stay, but the CCSS’s goal of uniform, multi-state tests aimed at providing meaningful comparisons between states looks destined to fail.

Efforts to repeal the CCSS altogether have also gained traction, but a closer look at the replacement standards tells another story. Oklahoma, Indiana, and South Carolina have all repealed the CCSS. Other states have tweaked and even renamed their standards. However, critics argue that many states are simply renaming the CCSS, keeping the majority of standards intact.  South Carolina’s new standards, for instance, are aligned with CCSS 90% of the time. In other words, lawmakers are pivoting away from the politically charged Common Core moniker, but Common Core-aligned standards remain.

The takeaway: the CCSS are being repealed in name only.


Do you and your students want to learn more about the education policy debate?

Check out SIRS Issues Researcher for more information.



Election Coverage with SIRS Issues Researcher!

We are about a year away from voting in the next our next president. This is a good time to learn all about important campaign issues and the potential presidential candidates. There are many resources available to do this, and ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher is a great place to start. Our Election 2016 Leading Issue can help you navigate the world of politics through editorially-selected articles in a format that offers both content and context. Critical thinking questions prompt students to go beyond the surface to examine issues. Election season is also a perfect time to start planning class debates.

What campaign issues will you focus on in your classroom? Do you have any suggestions on how to improve our coverage? Comment below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

3 Trending Leading Issues: Supreme Court Edition

U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington, DC <br />  By Daderot (Own work) [Public domain], <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org

U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington, DC
By Daderot (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Debates on several Leading Issues are about to heat up. Over the next few weeks, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is expected to rule on several landmark cases addressing some of the most controversial issues of our day. Public awareness of SCOTUS may be limited, but these rulings will affect the rights of all Americans. These rulings are also likely to affect SCOTUS’s favorability, which has declined in recent years.

Here are three of the most talked about Leading Issues that SCOTUS will address in the coming weeks:

1. Health Care Reform

SIRS Leading Issue: Health Care Reform by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

SIRS Leading Issue: Health Care Reform
by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

King v. Burwell. This case addresses subsidies offered by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The plaintiffs argue that the ACA only allows subsidies for health insurance purchased through state-run exchanges. The defendants argue that the ACA was intended to offer subsidies for health insurance purchased through federal- and state-run exchanges. According to the New York Times, if SCOTUS rules in favor of the plaintiffs, “about 7.5 million people could lose their subsidies in 34 states that use the federal health care marketplace.”

2. Same-Sex Marriage

SIRS Leading Issue: Same-Sex Marriage <br> by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

SIRS Leading Issue: Same-Sex Marriage
by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

Obergefell v. Hodges. This case addresses same-sex marriage. SCOTUS has raised two questions: Does the U.S. Constitution grant same-sex couples the right to marry? Should states without legalized same-sex marriage be required to recognize same-sex marriages obtained lawfully in other states? A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs could potentially legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states.

3. Capital Punishment

SIRS Leading Issue: Capital Punishment <br> by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

SIRS Leading Issue: Capital Punishment
by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

Glossip v. Gross. This death penalty case addresses whether a controversial lethal-drug combination used to carry out executions violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. The plaintiffs argue that the sedative midazolam, the first drug administered in the three-drug series, fails to prevent prisoners from enduring the intense pain caused by the two other drugs. This severe pain, they argue, is cruel and unusual punishment. If SCOTUS rules in favor of the plaintiffs, states that use midazolam will have to find more reliable drugs or turn to other execution methods like firing squads.

ProQuest’s SIRS Issues Researcher and SIRS Government Reporter editors will follow all of the Supreme Court rulings in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

What do you think about these Supreme Court cases? Comment below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.

50 Years Since the First Spacewalk

Photo credit: Ed White First American Spacewalker via photopin (license)

Ed White First American Spacewalker
Photo credit: NASA on The Commons via photopin (license)

The 1960s were successful years for NASA and space exploration in general. With the exciting notion of sending humans into the vast unknown and sharing live broadcasts via television, space became a wondrous and tangible reality. Americans welcomed space travel and the endless possibilities, but Americans were not the only ones interested in leading the “Space Race.” On March 18, 1965, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov did something groundbreaking. He became the first person ever to spacewalk. This milestone paved the way for others to exit their capsules once in space and roam without the confines of a spacecraft. Kathryn Sullivan, the first woman to walk in space, likened spacewalking to swimming. Underwater training thus proved helpful to astronauts before traveling to space. During the height of the space program, astronauts achieved many feats with Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon being a major accomplishment. Nonetheless, spacewalking opened the door 50 years ago and transformed the way space is explored.

Take some time this month to appreciate the 50th anniversary of the first spacewalk with a lesson centered on space exploration. ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher has got you covered with three main Leading Issues on Space Exploration & Travel, Space Missions and Space Vehicles. With SIRS Leading Issues, you can rest assured that important features including Topic Overviews and Essential Questions, Terms to Know and the accompanying Critical Thinking & Analysis questions are all editorially crafted to your needs as well as your students. Our Common Core guide for Understanding Primary Sources would also be a helpful supplement to any lesson, especially one focused on space.

ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issue on Space Exploration & Travel

ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issue on Space Exploration & Travel

How will you explore space? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.

5 Prewriting Activities to Prevent Writer’s Block

Created by Christie Riegelhaupt with Canva


It is every student’s nightmare. A deadline for a research paper looms, but a laptop screen stays blank. We’ve all experienced it: writer’s block. Writer’s block is often a symptom of being unprepared.

Much attention is given to the actual act of writing, but we often forget that prewriting is essential to successful writing. Prewriting—as the name implies—is the process that precedes writing. It includes researching, brainstorming, and planning. Prewriting exercises can help prevent writer’s block and, in turn, free students from needless frustration.

There are no wrong answers to prewriting exercises. The goal is to explore a research topic. Eventually, interesting ideas and questions will emerge, which will lead to a well-developed research thesis.




Start with a topic and then list words related to the main topic. Keep listing until ideas run out. Circle words that are worth pursing further.




Image by Jeff Wyman via Microsoft Word

Similar to listing, clustering is great for visual learners. Start with a topic and then branch off with related words. Keep branching until ideas run out.



Start free writing with a sentence that summarizes a topic. Then write anything that comes to mind about a topic. Forget about spelling and grammar. Writing well is not the goal; brainstorming is. Just write. Specify duration and don’t stop until time is up.



Sometimes students need structure. Journalistic questions are a great place to start. Ask and answer: who, what, when, where, why, and how?



Prewriting need not involve writing at all. Discussion among peers can inspire great ideas. Discussion can also be used in tandem with other prewriting exercises (i.e. make a list while discussing).


What prewriting activities do you use in the classroom? Tell us in the comments section below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.

Meet Common Core Standards with Statistics

Cartoon Depicting Mr. Alfred De Fuisseaux

Cartoon Depicting Mr. Alfred De Fuisseaux (1843-1901)
As a Figure Juggling with Figures
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.”–Mark Twain

The Numbers Game

Statistics are everywhere. Politicians, pundits, journalists, lobbyists, academics, students, and scientists–these are just a few examples of people who use statistics to defend their work. But statistics are often presented in ways that can alter how we understand and interpret a particular issue, which is why statistical literacy is so important.

Statistical Literacy and Common Core Standards

Statistical literacy includes the ability to find, analyze, and interpret statistics. Common Core State Standards emphasize the importance of statistical literacy.

Here are a few Common Core Standards that relate to statistics:

  • CCSS.Math.Content.HSS.IC.A.1 Understand statistics as a process for making inferences about population parameters based on a random sample from that population.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.HSS.IC.B.3 Recognize the purposes of and differences among sample surveys, experiments, and observational studies; explain how randomization relates to each.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Analyzing Statistics

A Common Core-aligned statistical analysis should cover three major steps:

  • Find statistics on a subject of interest
  • Analyze statistics
  • Apply Knowledge by evaluating credibility and making conclusions about statistics

Take a look at this infographic:

Infographic. Electric Vehicles

Image by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

Based on this infographic, California has the highest number of electric vehicles. But these data only tell part of the story. Consider California’s population size: it is the most populous state in the United States, which puts California at a distinct advantage when presenting a simple tally. More sparsely populated states would likely favor presenting these statistics as electric vehicles per capita. Both presentations of data are correct, but the way in which these statistics are presented may alter our understanding and interpretation.

This example illustrates the importance of statistical literacy. Statistical representation, however, is only one facet of statistical analysis. Other considerations include: sources, authors, sponsoring organizations, dates, historical context, statistical methodologies, and comparable studies.


Check out these resources:

Statistical literacy will help students meet Common Core Standards, but it will also help them understand and think critically about the statistics that bombard them every day.