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Posts Tagged ‘Students’

Classroom Socratic Seminars: Teaching the Art of Dialogue

Statue of Socrates in Trinity College Library

Statue of Socrates in Trinity College Library (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International/(c) Bar Harel, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Information literacy skills are integral to today’s rising students for many reasons, including tendencies toward information overload and the trend of fake news.

The gathering of information begins with a need or desire for an answer to a question. Perhaps that question is posed by a teacher or by the student herself. The next course of action in schools these days is usually to consult a website, or perhaps a book. Information literacy skills support students in navigating this process of finding answers.

But once students are equipped with these vital research skills and find answers to questions, what is the next step toward understanding and integrating the information they find?

Another way to ask that question might be this: How can we turn information gathering into wisdom?

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”—Socrates

Socrates prized questioning over information gathering. He valued the qualities of critical thinking and engagement with a topic. He believed in creating a learning atmosphere of cooperation, dialogue, listening, and further questioning—cornerstones of the Socratic method, and foundations of the Socratic seminar.

Socrates believed that collecting and memorizing information provided little opportunity for true learning. And as learning was best nurtured in a social atmosphere, the lone activity of research provided little support for critical thinking and comprehension.

Navigating and bridging the educational essentials of research and the art of critical thinking may be a challenging journey.

The Socratic seminar is one way to help connect these two elements of a successful classroom.

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”—Socrates

The Socratic seminar provides students with a forum to ask questions and exchange ideas with their peers on a specific topic, event, or piece of literature. Students come prepared to engage in discussion with fellow students, having read assigned materials, conducted appropriate research, made personal connections, and formulated questions to bring to the seminar.

The teacher becomes the seminar’s facilitator, keeping the students on topic and asking open-ended questions when necessary. The goal is to allow students to practice the art of true dialogue. Emphasis is placed on the value of listening and respecting everyone’s questions and opinions. Socratic seminars are not debates; rather, they are cooperative conversations geared toward critical thinking and discovery.

Interested in learning more about this teaching and learning tool? Check out this Socratic Seminar Strategy Guide and this Seminar Discussion Rubric, and select from these Socratic seminar lesson plans on literary texts, immigration, and human gene editing.

“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.”—Socrates

Adding an A to STEM…Full STEAM Ahead!

STEAM Quote

As professionals in the field of education, we all know the term STEM. This is a movement that exposes students to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. It promotes the teaching of these disciplines’ theories and content with a hands-on learning approach. The goal is not only to provide students with a deep, multidisciplinary understanding but to foster understanding of STEM concepts in the real world.

If a letter were added to the STEM acronym, what would the best choice be? In this video, Harvard University education professor Howard Gardner has a definitive answer: “I have no hesitation in saying we need to add the letter A….An education devoid of arts…is an empty, half-brain kind of education.”

To the point.

In that same video, Yale Child Study Center lecturer Erika Christakis isolates perhaps the core reason that adding the Arts to STEM education is so important: “The arts hav[e] something really essential to say about the human condition, just as science does.”

Let’s First Look at STEM.

We are humans living in a rapidly developing society. In no point in recorded human history has there been as many innovative technologies bringing people together. The disciplines represented in STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math—are integral to the technologies we use every day—and the tools we will use tomorrow. As stated in the State Idaho Department of Education’s What Is STEM Education?, “Math is the language; Science and Engineering are the processes for thinking; all this leads to Innovation.”

Young people—students—have known no other world. It is in all of our best interest to teach, encourage, and support them in a STEM environment.

So Why STEAM?: Arts and the Human Condition

Knowing and understanding the significance of STEM in our schools may not, at first glance, lead us to recognize the significance of adding an A to this multidisciplinary approach to education.

So we must ask: Exactly what do the arts add to our lives?

Consider what the arts encompass. Music, painting, sculpting, theater, literature, architecture, fashion, and so much more. Just as new technologies bring us together and help create our shared experiences, the arts span time to connect us with each other and ourselves. Consider briefly Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. How many people have viewed this painting across the centuries and have been moved by its beauty and brilliance? Across time and cultures, Mona Lisa created a shared, communal experience that impacted 16th-century viewers in much the same way is it does today.  An encounter that becomes both a personal and shared experience.

In fact, at the foundation of all artistic endeavors are creativity, personal experience, and shared experience. It is the same with newfound technologies. Why is this important? Consider what Mae Jemison—an astronaut, doctor, art collector, and dancer—had to say on the topic in this transcript of her 2009 TED Talk on teaching arts and science:

“The difference between science and the arts is not that they are different sides of the same coin, even, or even different parts of the same continuum, but rather they’re manifestations of the same thing….The arts and sciences are avatars of human creativity. It’s our attempt as humans to build an understanding of the universe, the world around us….[S]cience provides an understanding of a universal experience, and arts provides a universal understanding of a personal experience.”

STEAM in Action

Creativity, personal experience, and shared experience are evident in stories and videos of STEAM in action. When creative writing is incorporated as the A in this Science of Superheroes Lesson, students are able to make connections between the science of flight—which was the STEM component of the lesson—and creating a superhero character and story, which was the A component of the lesson. The video highlights the many layers of involvement and collaboration STEAM can engender.

Math concepts, such as number lines, counting, and fractions, are merged seamlessly with interactive theater play in Staging STEM, a video that also conveys the joy students attain when engaging in STEAM activities. The personal and shared experiences, generated by both personal and communal creativity, become essential to and integrated with the learning experience.

Education should be exciting, engaging, uplifting, and inspiring…and it should provide an outlet for creativity and both personal and shared experiences. The multidisciplinary STEAM educational model certainly is an approach worth exploring.

Explore more about STEM and STEAM in this infographic from the University of Florida:

STEAM, not just STEM Education Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

This month, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is celebrated in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The festival began in 1972 and is celebrated during the first weeks of October. Here are some fun facts about the festival.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
By Eric Ward from Provo, UT, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

* When the event began in 1972, there were just 13 balloons featured in the festival. Now there are over 500 hot air balloons in the festival!

* The event is held for 9 days.

* People from over 20 different countries participate in the event.

* In recent years, over 80,000 people have attended the event.

* Besides the wonderful hot air balloons at the festival, visitors can also enjoy music, food, and other educational activities.

* If you plan in advance, you can book a ride on a hot air balloon during the festival!

Teachers, direct your students to SIRS Discoverer to learn more about this festival and about hot air balloons. Here are some resources to get you started:

Floating Festival

How Stuff Works: How Hot Air Balloons Work

Hot air balloons

Official website of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

100th Anniversary of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was established on August 1, 1916, so this year marks the 100th anniversary of the park! The park is located on Hawaii’s Big Island and includes the two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa.

Halemaʻumaʻu crater

Active vent of the Kilauea Volcano (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons

To celebrate the centennial, here are some facts about the park:

  • The park was called Hawaii National Park from 1916 to 1961, then its name changed to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
  • Kilauea Volcano has erupted over 60 times since the 1750s. It has been continuously erupting since Jan. 1983.
  • In Aug. 2016, lava from Kilauea dropped into the ocean creating new land. Since 1983, about 500 acres of new land has been added by lava to the island.
  • Mauna Loa Volcano has erupted over 30 times since the 1840s. Its last eruption was in 1984.
  • The top of Mauna Loa Volcano reaches 13,677 feet above sea level. Kilauea Volcano is 4,091 feet above sea level.
  • The park has about 333,000 acres of land. About half of those acres are forests.
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was the 11th park established in the United States.
  • The park receives over 2.5 million visitors each year!
Pu'u O'o

Lava erupting from Kilauea Volcano (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons

Teachers, for more about this national park, direct your students to SIRS Discoverer. Here are some searches to get you started:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Kilauea Volcano

Mauna Loa

An Anniversary for Zoos

Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo in the 1920s (Public Domain) via Flickr

This month celebrates the anniversary of the first zoo opening in the United States. On July 1, 1874, the Philadelphia Zoo, in Pennsylvania, opened its doors to the public. Over 3,000 people visited on opening day. Now, the Philadelphia Zoo gets over 1 million visitors each year.

Zoos were once just a place to see exotic animals from faraway lands. Now, zoos play an important role in housing endangered animals and breeding them in captivity. They also help bring awareness to issues affecting animals around the world, such as habitat loss.

Here are 5 fun facts about zoos:

  • There are over 400 licensed zoos in the United States, plus hundreds of nature centers.
  • There are more than 100 aquariums in the U.S.
  • There are 10,000 zoos worldwide, according to the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
  • Schonbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, which opened in 1752, is the oldest zoo in the world.
  • The word “zoo” is short for zoological garden or zoological park. The word “zoology” refers to the scientific study of animals.

Teachers, for more about zoos, direct your students to SIRS Discoverer. Here are some searches to get you started:

Zoos
Zoo animals
Aquariums
Websites about zoos

May Space Milestones

Launch of Space Shuttle Columbia

Launch of Space Shuttle Columbia (Public Domain) via Flickr

There are many space accomplishments that we celebrate each year. Some are remembered more than others, but they are all an important part of exploring other planets in our solar system and the galaxy beyond. Here is a list of space milestones that land during the month of May to share with your students:

May 5, 1961: Astronaut Alan Shepard was launched into space aboard the Freedom 7 capsule, part of the Mercury mission. He became the second person (and the first U.S. astronaut) to enter outer space.

May 24, 1962: Astronaut Scott Carpenter was launched into outer space aboard the Aurora 7 space capsule, part of the Mercury mission. The capsule orbited earth three times.

May 15, 1963: Launch of the Faith 7 spacecraft, which was manned by Gordon Cooper who spent 34 hours in space.

May 18, 1969: Launch of Apollo 10 lunar module which orbited the moon. The module was manned by two astronauts.

May 19 and 28, 1971: Launch of the Mars 2 and Mars 3 Landers by Russia. Mars 2 arrived on Mars in November 1971 but crash-landed on the surface. It was the first object to reach Mars’ surface. Mars 3 arrived on Mars in December of 1971 and transmitted data back to Earth for 20 seconds.

May 30, 1971: An unmanned spacecraft, Mariner 9, was launched and began orbiting Mars in November 1971.

May 14, 1973: Launch of the Skylab station, by a Saturn 5 rocket, which became the first orbiting laboratory in space.

May 25, 1973: A group of three astronauts were launched into space to board the Skylab station orbiting laboratory for testing.

May 20, 1978: Launch of Pioneer Venus I orbiter. It began orbiting Venus in December 1978.

May 4, 1989: Launch of space shuttle Atlantis by NASA to deploy the Magellan spacecraft, which was sent to observe the planet Venus.

May 13, 1992: First time three astronauts space walked simultaneously from the Endeavour space shuttle.

May 26, 2008: Phoenix spacecraft landed on Mars. It analyzed Mars soil and took photos.

May 22, 2012: The SpaceX company launches its first capsule, called Dragon, into space. The capsule delivered food and other supplies to the International Space Station.

Teachers, direct your students to SIRS Discoverer to learn more about outer space exploration.

Join the Digital Learning Day Conversation on Feb. 17th 2016!

2016 is the fifth year since the inception of Digital Learning Day. This is a day to enhance the way students learn through technology. It’s a day to celebrate computers, apps, digital tools, devices, and the ways they’ve transformed education. The more comfortable students are with technology, the better prepared they will be for the future. This is also a day to have fun and learn something new. There are multiple ways you can join the digital learning day conversation. Bring ed-tech to your classroom or library and share the digital fun with everyone. Here are some ways you can get involved:

  1. Get on social media: 

    Twitter is an online social network perfect for spreading the Digital Learning Day message and sharing the ways you and your students are getting involved. @OfficialDLDay is the official Digital Learning Day Twitter account page and using the hashtag #DLDay will keep you connected with the latest postings.

  2. Visit the #EdTech Perspectives blog:

    The #EdTech Perspectives blog is located on the Digital Learning Day website. It is a curated blog and lists its contributors with their latest posts. Check out some of the archived posts and learn how Digital Learning Day is impacting educators, students and schools.

  3. Share online resources:

    The online resources page at the Digital Learning Day website provides a sampling of free digital tools that can benefit all types of learners. While there are many more ed-tech resources available online, this compilation is a good place to start.

  4. Try a new education app with your students:

    With an endless array of education apps to choose from, educators may become overwhelmed by which ones are the best ones for them. Helpful lists like the one at Shake Up Learning categorize some of the Google Chrome compatible options. The Digital Learning Day website contains a small list of apps that both students and educators may find useful. DailyGenius contains a list of the “best education apps for connected classrooms.”

How will you join the Digital Learning Day conversation? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.

Understanding Generation Z:
5 Traits of Gen Z Students

5 Traits of Generation Z Students

Gen Z. GenWii. Gen2020. Gen Tech. iGen. NetGen. These are a few of the names applied to the post-Millennial generation. No one really knows what to call them yet, but Generation Z (Gen Z) seems to be the general consensus—at least for now. Although there is disagreement on the exact dates, Gen Z began after 2000 according to NPR, which means that the majority of today’s K-12 students are likely to be a member of Gen Z.

Even though generational labels are oftentimes too simplistic, there are some common traits beginning to emerge among members of Gen Z. So what are some of those traits and how does it affect learning? As you might expect, technology has had a huge effect on how Gen Z learns. Here are five traits of Gen Z students.

5 Traits of Gen Z Students

1. They are (true) digital natives.

Millennials are often called digital natives, but many, especially those born at the early end (hello, 1980), grew up with no Internet access or cellphones. Gen Z has never known a time without the Internet or cellphones. Technology is seamlessly integrated into their lives. The challenge for educators is to use technology in ways that are relevant and aid learning.

2. They are multitaskers (sort of).

A recent CNN survey found that some 13-year-olds are checking their social media accounts up to one hundred times daily. Gen Z is used to doing multiple things at once, but let’s face it: multitasking is a myth. Ubiquitous smartphone use among today’s students means that countless distractions lay in the palm of their hands, and it adversely affects learning. Today’s students have difficulty staying focused, which is why some have dubbed Gen Z as Generation ADHD. As a result, they learn best in a fast-paced environment where information is presented in smaller bits.

3. They are Googlers.

Gen Z is used to having information resources available at their fingertips. They are quick to Google rather than use reliable library resources to find answers. They expect to find answers instantaneously and tend to have difficulty assessing whether or not sources are credible. Despite—or perhaps because of—a wealth of information, Gen Z students need help honing their critical thinking and information literacy skills.

4. They are creators.

Whereas Millennials are known to passively consume multimedia, members of Gen Z are known to create it. Instead of looking at a picture, they’d rather be taking one. Instead of watching a video, they’d rather be filming one. This trend is also demonstrated by the rise of makerspaces, which are popping up in libraries and schools across the U.S. Gen Z students prefer active, hands-on learning over lectures.

5. They are collaborators.

Gen Z’s preference for hands-on learning makes them great candidates for group projects. Thanks to the Internet, they are used to being connected to the world. Collaborative online projects with their classmates or with students around the world can encourage engaged learning and help them hone their digital communication skills.

What are some of your takeaways on Gen Z students? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @ProQuest or in the comments below.

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.

Increase Student Engagement:
Help Launch the #AskAStudent Movement

Although national- and state-level issues like the Common Core testing debate dominate U.S. education policy discussions, micro-level issues like student engagement often get overlooked. According to the 2014 Gallup Student Poll, 53 percent of public school students in grades 5–12 are engaged at school; almost half of all students are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.” Gallup’s poll defines student engagement as “the involvement in and enthusiasm for school, [which] reflects how well students are known and how often they get to do what they do best.” So how do we improve student engagement? One way is to foster more communication between you—the educator—and your students.

Asking students questions about their interests and their lives can improve student-educator relations and academic outcomes. In a recent post, Gallup education research specialist Mark Reckmeyer tells the story of how a simple question—What do you like to do at home?—transformed a disengaged student into an engaged one. When this student revealed his passion for cooking, his teacher used this knowledge by aligning the curriculum to help him become more actively engaged.

Last spring, third-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz tried to get to know her students better by assigning them a writing prompt called “I wish my teacher knew.” Schwartz—along with the rest of the nation—was blown away by her students’ responses, many of which were posted on Twitter under the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew. Students revealed poignant details about their lives, such as not having enough pencils, not having any friends to play with, and having parents who were deported. This assignment gave students the ability to voice their biggest challenges. It also gave Schwartz the opportunity to understand those challenges and adjust her teaching accordingly.

Both anecdotes demonstrate the power of communicating with students. Students are people, too. They have hobbies, talents, worries, and challenges—just like the rest of us. The more you know about your students, the better equipped you will be to improve student engagement and, in turn, academic outcomes. So #AskAStudent. Ask about their likes and dislikes. Ask about their challenges. Ask about their strengths. Ask their opinion. Asking questions will let students know that they are valued. It will also help you understand your students’ interests and needs.

There are many ways to ask students questions. Reckmeyer’s student was asked in person. Schwartz assigned her students a writing prompt, allowing them to remain anonymous—although many chose to include their names and share with the class. How you choose to approach #AskAStudent will likely depend on your students’ grade level: younger students, after all, might be more willing participants than older students. Use your best judgment. If one tactic doesn’t work, find another. Ultimately, the goal is to build student engagement from the ground up.

Below is a collage of students who were asked, “What do you like to do when you are not in school?” Help launch the #AskAStudent movement by sharing your assignments and responses with us on Twitter @ProQuest.