Posts Tagged ‘Summer’

Poll: Is the Educator’s Summer Vacation a Myth?


CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay

After they met, they sipped sangria and studied each other. He seemed to have potential.

“So, what do you do for work?” he asked.

“I’m a teacher,” she said.

“Oh, it must be so nice to have summers off!” he said.

Her sangria-spiked blood boiled. His insipid, small-talk question was forgivable; his moronic response to her answer was not.

She flung sangria into his face. Fruit and red wine ran down his head. His shirt stained. He looked wounded, bloodied. She immediately regretted her behavior: she just wasted sangria.


Sans the sangria, has this scenario ever happened to you?

Of course it has.

It seems like everyone thinks educators spend their summers sunning themselves and sipping sangria at the beach. Nice, right? If only it were true. Last summer, an article on the Atlantic.com declared that a teacher’s summer vacation is a myth. Many educators actually spend the majority of their summers writing lesson plans, attending conferences, taking continuing education classes, teaching summer school, or working second jobs. Does this sound familiar?

Is the educator’s summer vacation really just a myth? Take our poll.


Libraries and Summer Fun

Surfside Library Pop-Up

Santa Monica Public Library at the Beach 2015, Santa Monica, California (Photo used with permission by Jeff Kaplan, Reference Services Librarian, Santa Monica Public Library)


About a year ago, I read a Fast Company blog post about a gorgeous pop-up library on a beach in Istres, a town in the South of France. I live in Florida and spend practically every single weekend at my local beach, and I’m a bibliophile to boot, so the idea of a library on the beach thrilled me. I wondered if such a library existed in my part of the world.

Curious, I googled pop-up beach libraries in the U.S. and discovered that, yes, they do exist, just not (at least, at this point) near me.

Hula Hoop Fun at SMPL at the Beach 2015

Hula Hoop fun at the Santa Monica Pop-Up Library in 2015 (Photo used with permission by Jeff Kaplan, Reference Services Librarian at the Santa Monica Public Library.)

Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL) is one such library that offers books on the beach. I contacted the library and heard back from Reference Services librarian, Jeff Kaplan, who said he had read the very same blog post about the French beachside library. In fact, the post inspired him to pitch the idea to his library’s Director, Maria Carpenter, who approved the idea to create a series of library pop-ups at their local beaches.

Mr. Kaplan gave me some background information on SMPL at the Beach, which debuted last summer and was a huge success (they had four 12×12 canopies serving over 500 visitors, including 151 participants in their beach programs). According to Mr. Kaplan, they strove to make their pop-ups  “a ‘beachified’ version of the library, with all its services, programs and collections represented, not just a bunch of books on the beach.” Services even included a Seaside Story Time for children and reference and instruction services with mobile wifi hot spots.


I was happy to learn that beginning July 8, SMPL at the Beach 2016 will offer five seaside pop-up libraries with summer fun programming, including ukelele lessons (I am sooo jealous!), fitness  classes, beach games like bocce and ladder toss, music performances and even a Surfside Lounge. The Library Foundation will also be providing free giveaways (beach towels, trucker caps and water bottles).


July also marks the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), and local libraries are prepared for the fun and for doing what they can to make lives easier for the cyclists. I contacted a few librarians at the libraries situated along this year’s bike route (419.9 miles across state’s scenic southern terrain) and the excitement RAGBRAI generates is palpable among them.

Imagination Mural at the Shenandoah Public Library

Brick mural called IMAGINATION by artist Jay Tschetter at the City of Shenandoah Public Library in Shenandoah, Iowa (Photo used with permission by Joy Stortvedt of the Shenandoah Public Library)

Librarian Joy Stortvedt of Shenandoah Public Library said that they are opening their library on Sunday, July 24, even though they are typically closed that day. Cyclists can use the Shenandoah library to cool off, use the bathrooms and charge their devices. Wifi access will also be provided outdoors, and can be accessed, even when the library is closed, from their outdoor amphitheater. They also hope to offer paperbacks, but aren’t yet certain about their stock. Ms. Stortvedt recommends the library’s brick mural by artist Jay Tschetter (see photo above) and a historic arch as excellent photo ops for the cyclists.

1888 Steinway Grand Piano

Rebuilt 1888 Steinway grand piano that will be open for RAGBRAI bikers to play at the Washington Free Public Library (photo used with permission by Debbie Stanton, Library Director at Washington Free Public Library in Washington, Iowa)

Library Director Debbie Stanton of Washington Free Public Library said that their library will be open to the public until 11 p.m. on July 29, the day RAGBRAI comes through their town. She also shared that they are converting their library’s used bookstore room into an entertainer’s lounge, which will provide “backstage” accommodations for their headlining bands, and they are adapting their two janitors’ sinks into showers for the cyclists. They are also providing overnight accommodations for two teams of bikers (about 50 people total) in their meeting rooms and working with a local Internet service provider and an economic development group to provide wifi access points downtown.

Letts Library

Letts Library and Community Room (Photo used with permission by Karen Koppe, Library Director, Letts Library and Community Room, Letts, Iowa)

Library Director Karen Koppe of Letts Public Library let me know that this will be the first time RAGBRAI will go through her small town. She says the library will sell homemade pies and that she has plans to have the kids in town help with making banners, signs and donation buckets for the July 30th event in Letts, which will feature 15 vendors and a DJ.  Ms. Koppe also notes that cyclists might be interested to know that the town has a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient buried in the town’s cemetery.


Insect Hotel

Insect Hotel at the LibraryFarm at the Northern Onondaga Public Library, Cicero, NY (Photo used with permission by Jill Youngs, Branch Manager, Northern Onondaga Public Library at Cicero, NY)

Not only do libraries help plant seeds of knowledge, but some also offer real-life garden plots! The LibraryFarm is one such garden. Located on the grounds of the Northern Onondaga Public Library at Cicero, New York, the LibraryFarm is an organic community garden that donates to three local pantries and offers regular programming dedicated to sustainable gardening and food literacy. Programs range from home solarization to backyard chickens. The garden also includes a neat insect hotel that was constructed out of discarded shipping pallets by the library’s maker club. If you can’t get away for the summer, a community garden is a nice way to relax after a day of work. Check out your community to see if the library or another organization offers garden plots.


You might be reading this and thinking, “Aww, but my library doesn’t have a garden, and I don’t live near Santa Monica, California, or one of the many libraries along this year’s RAGBRAI trail in Iowa.” No worries, fellow bibliophiles, these aren’t the only library summer fun spots. Innovative libraries across the country offer a range of summer programming, from summer reading challenges for children and adults (such as the one my local library offers) to puppet shows and more. In addition, many libraries offer summer-themed items you can borrow.

Here are examples of four items you can borrow from some libraries that go hand-in-hand with summer fun:


Fishing Gear:

GoPro Cameras:

Museum Passes:

Share with Us!

What is your library doing this summer? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us a picture at #ProQuest!

School’s Out for Summer


Bowley Elementary’s Last Day of School
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Across the nation there is a collective sigh of relief as the school year wraps up, and that sigh is not coming from the students. Another school year is in the books, and no one is more excited than the faculty and staff.

So let’s flip the script. Instead of tasking your students with that age-old assignment, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation,” I’m asking you to share your summer plans with us.

I asked some of my teacher and librarian friends about their summer plans. These were some of their responses:

“My kids and I will be taking advantage of the free admission to the Museum of Discovery and Science in Ft. Lauderdale.”—Jessica D., elementary school teacher in Palm Beach County, Florida. In the South Florida area—and throughout the state of Florida—many attractions offer teachers free admission either for the year or for the summer months. This site lists some of the discounts offered to educators in the state of Florida. What’s offered in your state?

“I’m loading the kids and the dog in the car, and we are going on a road trip to Michigan. “—Amy B. , teacher with Florida Virtual School. Memorial Day weekend officially kicked off the summer travel season, with an estimated 38 million Americans hitting the road according to the American Automobile Association of America (AAA). Those numbers are expected to remain high throughout the summer thanks to the lowest gas prices in a decade.

“Every summer I plan on relaxing and not scheduling anything, but that usually only lasts a few days before I get caught up in running errands and completing projects around the house.”—Rachael D., high school teacher in Broward County, Florida. Contrary to what some may think, it is not all fun and games over the summer. In addition to household chores, many teachers spend time preparing their lesson plans and their classrooms for the upcoming school year.

Whatever your plans this summer, stay safe and enjoy the break. Let us know what you have planned! Tweet us using #ProQuest or comment below.

Why Playing Guitar This Summer Can Teach You About Science

Having Fun with Music

Summer is a great time to have fun and learn something at the same time. For those days when the heat is just too much, staying inside can be good for practicing a hobby or starting something new. Have you always dreamed of songwriting? What about playing guitar? Learning a new instrument or writing a song may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are tons of resources online that can not only teach you how to do these things but also help with understanding the science behind music.

Link Between Music and Science

There’s a whole lot of science happening in the process of making music! From the vibrations of guitar strings to creating melodies and harmonies, you can pick up a lot about physics just from plucking or strumming notes. Once you start experimenting with your chosen instrument, it becomes easier to see why music is a helpful tool in education. Maybe that’s why it’s easier to remember facts when they are incorporated into a clever song.

This short TED-Ed animated lesson by Oscar Fernando Perez and Chris Boyle illustrates just how much you can learn about physics through playing the guitar.

So, the next time you see a guitar imagine how its parts work together to create the sounds you hear, the vibrations you feel and the melodies and rhythms you play. Science is all around us! And it doesn’t have to stop just because it’s summer.

Resources Online

Here’s a short list of some interesting videos to watch on the connection between music, science, the brain, and even spiders.

The Science Behind the Arts: The Maths Behind Music
How playing an instrument benefits your brain
Spiders Tune Their Webs Like A Guitar 

Are you learning something musical this summer? Write us in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest. We’d love to know!

National Aviation Day Activities

"Airplane." Photo credit: muffinman71xx / Foter / CC BY-SA

“Airplane.” Photo credit: muffinman71xx / Foter / CC BY-SA

Today is National Aviation Day, established in 1939 on Orville Wright’s birthday. Orville Wright was an American inventor credited with creating the first successful airplane with his brother Wilbur. The advances made in aviation since then have led to widespread international travel and exploration in outer space. NASA has also been able to benefit the U.S. through continued research in aeronautics. Flight has proven to be one of the most amazing discoveries of the modern world and will continue to expand into the future. Aviation advances are limitless in the eyes of tomorrow’s pilots. To celebrate National Aviation Day, we’ve compiled some activity suggestions that are intended to get you flying in the right direction!

Soak Up Some Aviation History

Aviation Search Box Screencap via ProQuest SIRS WebSelect

Aviation Search Box Screencap via ProQuest SIRS WebSelect

A great starting point for aviation history is ProQuest SIRS WebSelect. Here you will find editorially-selected websites that can be used in research, to complement lessons and as a basis for learning more about the history of flight. This resource is perfect for back-to-school planning. Some key selections include:

Head to an Aviation Museum

Aviation museums are a nice way to explore aviation history. Each museum is designed differently and allows visitors a unique experience every time. These museums can be found in the U.S. and abroad. The National Museum of the United States Air Force in Ohio is considered to be the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum. A list of the world’s best aviation museums can be found through the CNN article “World’s 14 Best Aviation Museums.”

Build an Airplane

A fun way to engage with flight and invention is by making your own paper airplane. Trying different types of designs and folding techniques can get you excited about this pastime and remind you that it’s still ok to channel your inner child. This could even be an activity you share with your own children or students. Once everyone is up to speed, you could hold a paper airplane contest to see whose creation flies the farthest. Check out this Smithsonian.com article “How to Fold a World Record-Setting Paper Airplane” to help guide your design and execution.

Watch Airplanes at the Airport

A special but rare find at airports these days are observation decks. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city whose airport has one, you may want to make a visit this summer. Since airport security is quite tight now, having the opportunity to watch the airplanes go by can really feel like a treat. The next time you plan a trip by plane, consider including time to sit at an observation deck and really take in all it has to offer. They may not be around forever.

Thank a Pilot After Your Next Trip

Summer is a popular time of year to plan our vacations and travels. Each time we make the decision to board a plane, we hope for safe travels and arrivals. If you’re going to be traveling by plane soon, consider thanking your pilot. You could write a personalized thank you note while on board and hand deliver it to your pilot, contact your airline and provide positive feedback about your experience or recognize your favorite pilot on social media. Sometimes it’s nice to show them your appreciation and it probably makes their job that much more rewarding too.

How will you celebrate National Aviation Day? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at #ProQuest.

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

"Jaws" Research Topic

“Jaws” Research Topic
via ProQuest’s eLibrary

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

Cover of Peter Benchley's 1974 Novel "Jaws"

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


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

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


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

Great White Shark

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

Graphic of a Great White Shark

Great White Shark Graphic
CCO [Public Domain] Pixabay









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

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


Where Writing Can Take You This Summer

"Tell Your Story." Photo Credit: Damian Gadal / Foter / CC BY

“Tell Your Story.” Photo Credit: Damian Gadal / Foter / CC BY

Creative writing, poetry, fiction, short stories and so many other types of expressive writing are sometimes taken for granted in school when rigid educational standards and testing are prioritized. Writing, however, is a skill that goes hand in hand with reading and literacy and should be practiced in all forms including creative ones. Crafting a story from the imagination is a talent that cultivates creative thinking and should be encouraged. Whether you’re just starting to write, college-bound, working or interested in taking a writing class, opportunities are endless. You may be surprised at how many doors will open when you know how to craft stories and poetry. This summer, challenge yourself to start writing and see where it can take you. As Dr. Seuss wrote, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Here are five wonderful places where writing can take you this summer:

1. Writing poetry can lead you to compete:

If you have an interest in writing poetry, there are contests and competitions you may want to check out. Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Card Contest is one in particular that awards you and doesn’t require an entry fee. The contest is held bi-annually and you can enter as many times as you wish. Non-rhyming verse is preferred.

2. Writing can encourage you to craft your talent:

Sometimes writing camps are good options for young writers who want to attend a program over the summer. You meet other like-minded writers and get to have your work critiqued. One such program offered by the Emerging Writers Institute allows 10th-12th graders to craft works of poetry, fiction, plays and more under the guidance of talented instructors. This particular program is housed in residence at top universities and dates are available in 2-week time-frames throughout the summer.

3. Writing can inspire you to visit the local library:

Believe it or not, your library does offer writing workshops and classes over the summer. Chances are it also offers these services year-round. Check with your local librarian to find out what writing classes and events are being offered in your hometown. Once you start writing, you may visit the library more often to find new books to inform your writing. Also check out National Novel Writing Month in November and see what you can do to prepare for it this summer.

4. Writing can take you on a travel adventure:

Sometime in the course of your education, you may get an opportunity to study abroad. Writers have many options available to them to do this. One program to consider is the Prague Summer Program for Writers which now operates as an independent entity. Being able to apply directly removes the obstacle of being enrolled at a specific university. If this program isn’t right for you, there are lots of others. Beginning a writing journey this summer can prepare you for a study abroad adventure next summer!

5. Writing can teach you about yourself:

The terms “writer” and “introvert” are often associated together. This does not mean every writer is an introvert or every introverted person is automatically a writer. The association comes from society’s idea that if you write, you are more attuned with your inner self and thus able to channel that better with words. I have learned that writing can teach you a lot about yourself and your inner voice. The more you write, the better you become at listening to what it’s trying to tell you. Let your words be your guide and you will always find your way. The New York Times op-ed “Writing My Way to a New Self” by Hana Schank provides a firsthand account of how this sentiment is illustrated by writing.

Where is writing leading you? Let us know in the comments section or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

Summer Vacation Lessons from Alaska

As summer begins to wind down, it won’t be long until teachers and students are counting the days before they’re headed back to school. But before you return, consider the role that everybody’s favorite part of summer break—the quintessential vacation—can play in the classroom this coming fall.

The Alaska Range’s Peaks and Glaciers

The thought struck me soon after returning from my trip to the Alaskan Interior for the Summer Solstice Festival. Concealed in the recreational activities of kayaking, fishing, mountain biking and more, I realized just how many classroom-worthy lessons came back with me upon returning from the 15-hour series of flights. (Note to self: If you plan on traveling 5,500 miles across the world next summer, make it more than a week-long stay!)

Here are the top vacation educational lessons I learned while in Alaska:

• Considering how much geothermal power could be harnessed in this country while I was soaking in the 165° F water of the Chena Hot Springs.

• Pondering the geological history of the Alaska Range and Mt. McKinley as it towered over the vista of our cabin’s wrap-around deck.

• Lessons I had learned in sustainability: Chinook salmon fishery management while visiting a Native American village, and the benefits of permaculture on soil and habitat at the organic Calypso Farm and Ecology Center.

• Reflecting on experiencing the solstice, and its nearly 24 hours of sunlight at the top of the world.

How about you? Were you able to enjoy a summer vacation this year? Do you think it can be molded into a classroom lesson? If so, ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher has tons of resources that can help!

Summer Reading List

Collage created via www.fotor.com (Credits counter-clockwise)

Collage created via www.fotor.com
“2014-05-21 00.46.53.” Photo credit: erocsid via photopin cc
“The Night Circus.” Photo credit: Library Lady Amy via
photopin cc
“the professor and the madman.” Photo credit: kimthedork via photopin cc

Hello Educators! I hope you are enjoying your summer so far. I know you spend a majority of the year catering to the need of your students. Summer is the time where you have a well-deserved opportunity to relax with an entertaining book or recharge with some skillful planning. Whether you’re on vacation or just want some guidance in choosing your next book, here are 10 options that I think provide a nice mix of professional growth and entertainment perfect for a summer break.

1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain:

This is an insightful look at why introverts have as equal value as extroverts in the modern world. Cain pulls from history and research to explain why quiet, studious types are multi-faceted and talented in a way that doesn’t bog down with data.

2. Birdmen by Lawrence Goldstone:

Aviation wouldn’t be the same without the Wright Brothers. If you enjoy traveling, reading about the early flight days and challenges along the way this book might inspire you to plan your next trip!

3. On the Road by Jack Kerouac:

When I think of summer, road trips come to mind. This book chronicles Kerouac’s road trip with his friend and reveals the best sights seen and people met along their journey.

4. American Gods by Neil Gaiman:

Fantasy novels are great for summer because they can be longer. In this one, magic and mythology drive the plot. Gaiman takes the idea of mythical Gods and creates “American Gods.” These beings reflect modern themes like technology and fame.

5. How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough:

Inquisitive teachers are always looking for ways to understand their students better. This book poses the argument for why a child’s character, more than cognitive ability, determines a student’s probability of success.

6. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner:

Weiner describes his book as, “a philosophical humorous travel memoir.” He highlights places around the world with the highest sense of contentment and tries to answer why some places seem happier than others.

7. Teaching for the Two-Sided Mind by Linda Verlee Williams:

A look at left-brain and right-brain learning. It stresses the importance of “how” something is taught.

8. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern:

Another fantasy novel, it takes the familiar wonder of the circus and builds another kind, open at night, filled with illusions, enchantment and dark revelations.

9. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple:

This fiction novel centers around an eccentric mother and her family. Semple manages to capture the essence of the special mother-daughter bond through humor.

10. The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester:

If you’ve ever been curious about the history behind the Oxford English Dictionary, this book delivers an unusual story.

What are you reading this summer? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

SKS Spotlight: Summer Science

Science is happening all around us. This summer, kids of all ages can marvel at the world and wonder at how everyday miracles happen. Like baking a cake…chemistry! Riding a bike…physics! Healing a wound…biology! Star-gazing…astronomy! Gardening…botany! There was a time when humans didn’t understand these routine events as the scientific phenomena that they are. Over the centuries, scientists have made countless amazing discoveries that have changed our lives and influenced the way we see ourselves, our world, and universe.

This diagram compares our own solar system to Kepler-22, a star system containing the first "habitable zone" planet discovered by NASA's Kepler mission. The habitable zone is the sweet spot around a star where temperatures are right for water to exist in its liquid form. Liquid water is essential for life on Earth. <br \> by NASA/JPL-Caltech, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

This diagram compares our own solar system to Kepler-22, a star system containing the first “habitable zone” planet discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission. The habitable zone is the sweet spot around a star where temperatures are right for water to exist in its liquid form. Liquid water is essential for life on Earth.
by NASA/JPL-Caltech, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

Scientific discoveries continue to occur…and some are astonishing. Recent examples include the finding of an “Earth-like” planet in another solar system; creating stem cells from a drop of blood; producing biofuel from engineered bacteria; learning that plants seem to be consuming more greenhouse gases than before; and locating the Higgs boson particle, also known as the “God particle.”

Visit the June SKS Spotlight of the Month and help young people fill summer with spellbinding science. Who knows, together you may become inspired to delve into science and make your own amazing discoveries!