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Posts Tagged ‘teachers’

How to Support Inclusion When Teaching Controversial Political Issues

This is the latest in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students. The previous post in this series examined U.S. teens, politics, and information literacy.


Today’s top political issues are controversial for a reason: they affect our lives. Students are no exception, which is why classroom discussions about controversial political issues risk offending or alienating students, especially those who are marginalized by society. Shielding students from discomfort is tempting, but avoidance goes against the aims of learning about controversial political issues, one of which is political literacy.

But maintaining a safe, welcoming, and accepting learning environment for every student is essential. Fortunately, there are ways to ease some of the negative aspects of teaching controversial political issues. The following strategies, which have been adapted from Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy’s The Political Classroom, will help you support inclusion in the classroom.

Know your students. At the beginning of the semester, get to know your students’ views, political ideology, and personal circumstances by conducting an anonymous survey.

Choose wisely. Based on the survey results, pick political issues that are relevant, ethical, and most likely to facilitate learning.

Time it right. Schedule the least controversial issues first, and then build up to more controversial issues as the semester progresses. Evidence suggests that students become more respectful of one another once they know their classmates. Students also develop stronger civil-discourse skills over time.

Do your research. Before teaching an issue, research it thoroughly. Being informed gives you confidence and helps you keep class discussions relevant and free of false claims.

Ensure civility. During class discussions, enact and enforce the norms of civil discourse. Most students are unfamiliar with how to engage in civil debates, especially given today’s political climate. Your guidance is essential.

Get feedback. At the end of the semester, get feedback from students by conducting another anonymous survey. Ask students about what they learned and their overall experience, including whether they felt uncomfortable, offended, or alienated. Learn from the feedback, adjust accordingly, and repeat the process next semester.

Of course, there are no perfect solutions. No matter what you do, some students may become offended or alienated during discussions involving controversial political issues. But by following the strategies outlined above, you will help make your classroom more inclusive for all students.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series on teaching controversial political issues to students.

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SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

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

Fact Sheet: World Teachers’ Day

World Teachers' Day Infographic

October 5, 2017 is World Teachers’ Day commemorating the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers.

This year’s theme is “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers” and correlates with the Sustainable Development Goals established in 2015. The top priority for these education and development goals is for teachers to be empowered and celebrated.

To reach the goals set by UNESCO, the world needs to recruit almost 69 million new teachers by 2030. In this infographic, I’ve highlighted how many primary and secondary school teachers must be recruited in 2020, 2025 and 2030 respectively to meet these goals.

With teachers at the forefront of importance in shaping students’ educational and social understanding of the world around them, it is vital that teachers are acknowledged for their contributions and commended.

Reach out to your teachers and let them know how they’ve inspired or challenged you. Just a few kind words can go a long way. The more teachers there are in the world, the more students there will be who continue to ask questions and find solutions to long-standing problems. And those students could become our next innovators, humanitarians, and world leaders. Support teachers—our future depends on it.

How will you celebrate World Teachers’ Day? Let us know on Twitter @ProQuest or in the comments below! Also, find us on Facebook @ProQuestHomeworkCentral.

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There is a Cure for the Summertime Blues

School's Out!

School’s Out Photo via Pixabay [CCO Public Domain]

It’s Summer, and teachers all over the United States are relaxing, going on vacations and otherwise enjoying some much-needed time away. But, sooner or later, educators realize that they need to start preparing for the next semester’s classes. When rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran sang “there ain’t no cure for the Summertime Blues” back in 1958, he had high-school students in mind. Teachers, however, can also experience some blues of their own during the summer months when they begin planning for the coming school year.

Here is how one teacher is preparing for the Fall semester.

Tammy Rastoder is a high-school teacher of Language Arts electives (Yearbook, Journalism and Creative Writing) at South Warren High School in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This coming Fall she will begin her 6th year of teaching.

She began her summer vacation in early June by attending a 2-day workshop at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, sponsored by the school’s yearbook company, Jostens. The workshop is for both faculty advisers and students. With assistance from Jostens’ journalism, photography and design instructors, attendees are shown how to plan their book’s theme, ladder (what appears on each page) and cover. The workshop features break-out sessions specifically for advisers, student editors, and photographers. Tammy says it is “well worth it to put in those couple of days at the beginning of the summer to get a head-start on yearbook planning” so she can “hit the ground running when school starts.” She attended the workshop with two of her student yearbook staffers.

Jostens' Yearbook Workshop in Nashville (2017)

Yearbook Workshop. Jostens Workshop leader Lauren Logsdon with South Warren design editor Eve Baughman and editor-in-chief Kylee Eilers. Photo Courtesy Tammy Rastoder

This summer, Tammy’s school district is also participating in SCK-LAUNCH: Educator Externship. Educator Externships are work-based learning and professional development opportunities that provide teachers with exposure to local businesses and the types of careers students may want to pursue. This involves teachers visiting various workplaces to “gain a perspective of the talent pipeline and skills students will need to be successful” and to “link those skills into the classroom and when mentoring students.”

For the most part, though, Tammy says that she finds new ideas for her classes and ways to improve her teaching methods through reading, watching documentaries, traveling and various art activities that she does for fun during the summer. She is always thinking of ways to incorporate Summertime experiences into her classroom.

Tammy and her fellow educators have access to professional development materials and videos at the Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System (CIITS) website, which is provided to all Kentucky public schools. Your state no doubt has similar development resources that are available for teachers to use.

The Warren County school district also provides two days of professional development on various topics for teachers during the summer.

Like Tammy, hopefully, all of you teachers will find time to have fun and relax this summer, but when you start planning this Fall’s lessons, take some time to search eLibrary’s many educator resources, including our huge list of Research Topics.

Tammy Rastoder

Tammy Rastoder [Photo Courtesy Tammy Rastoder]

Speaking of Summertime Blues, during her time off, Tammy and her husband Samir are heading first to Memphis and then will take the Mississippi Blues Trail down to New Orleans.

Have a great summer!

If you have some ideas about preparing for classes during the summer months, you can share them by tweeting us using #ProQuest.

 

Here are just a few eLibrary educator resources:

Research Topics

Teacher Resources (eLibrary Topic Browse)

Managing Your Classroom (eLibrary Topic Browse)

Subject Support (eLibrary Topic Browse)

Teachers’ Professional Resources (eLibrary Topic Browse)

Curriculum Design, featuring Assessment Strategies, Lesson Plan Aids and National Education Standards (eLibrary Topic Browse)

How Educators Can Choose Controversial Political Issues Ethically

This is the third in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students. Previous posts in this series discussed the benefits and aims of teaching controversial political issues.

How Educators Can Choose Controversial Political Issues Ethically


In 2014, school officials in Rialto, California, had to apologize after students were asked to write an argumentative essay on whether the Holocaust occurred. The assignment presented students with a false controversial issue and implied that Holocaust denial was a valid position despite empirical evidence that proves otherwise. Although extreme, this incident demonstrates the ethical perils of choosing topics when teaching controversial political issues.

How can educators choose and present controversial political issues ethically? There are no easy answers. Educators, however, can take some steps to ensure that teaching about a controversial political issue doesn’t become a controversy.

Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy, authors of The Political Classroom, argue that educators should be well prepared and use good professional judgment, which considers classroom context, evidence-based research, and educational aims. To prepare, educators should be able to identify four types of issues and consider three criteria to determine whether an issue is indeed controversial.

Identify the Type of Issue

Is the issue empirical or political?

Empirical issues can be answered through methodical inquiry. All empirical issues have a “correct” answer based on facts, although the answer may not yet be known. Political issues involve matters of public policy. Although empirical data is often used to support public-policy positions, political issues also involve considerations that are not necessarily fact-based, such as ethics and morals.

Is the issue open or settled?

Open issues are a current matter of controversy. Settled issues are no longer controversial and have widespread agreement. Both empirical and political issues can be open or settled.

Here’s an overview of the four types of issues:

1. Open Empirical: An issue that can be answered with facts, but a debate is still occurring because the evidence is conflicting or lacking. Example: Are self-driving cars safer than traditional cars?

2. Settled Empirical: An issue that has been answered with facts. Example: Are opioids addictive?

3. Open Political: A public-policy issue that has multiple, opposing viewpoints. Example: Should the United States implement single-payer health care?

4. Settled Political: A public-policy issue that is no longer considered controversial or open for debate. Example: Should women have the right to vote?

Why is identifying the type of issue important? Educators teaching controversial political issues must be sure not to present settled issues as open. Educators must also recognize the difference between issues that can be answered with facts alone (empirical issues) versus those that can be answered with opinions in addition to facts (policy issues).

Consider the Criteria for Controversy

Identifying whether an issue is empirical or political and open or settled may seem easy, but things are not always so simple. Some issues are empirically settled, but large segments of society may not agree. According to scientists, climate change is real and genetically-modified foods are safe, but sizeable numbers of Americans are skeptical of those positions. Some educators believe it is unethical to present issues as controversial when empirical evidence or their own moral code suggests otherwise. Other educators believe they are doing their students a disservice if they ignore issues that are currently being debated in the political sphere.

Here are three possible criteria to consider when choosing a controversial issue:

1. Behavioral: This criterion considers an issue controversial if sizeable numbers of people in society disagree on the issue regardless of empirical evidence.

Upside: This standard reflects what society thinks.

Downside: This standard may ignore empirical evidence. If sizable numbers of people believe in a conspiracy theory, despite the evidence, is it ethical to present this as a controversial issue?

2. Epistemic: This criterion considers an issue controversial if sizable numbers of people in society disagree on the issue, and there are multiple, logically grounded viewpoints on the issue.

Upside: This standard reflects what society thinks while also considering reasonable, evidence-based viewpoints.

Downside: People disagree on what is considered reasonable, which suggests that educators should ignore controversial political issues if viewpoints are considered unreasonable.

3. Politically Authentic: This criterion considers an issue controversial if it is being debated in the political sphere (e.g., legislation, political campaigns, and protest movements).

Upside: This criterion addresses current issues being debated in the political sphere, which prepares students for life in a democracy.

Downside: Viewpoints on politically authentic issues are not always grounded in logic.

Although The Political Classroom’s Hess and McAvoy recognize that each standard has its merits and disadvantages, they most prefer the politically authentic criterion because it directly addresses an important aim of teaching controversial political issues to students: political literacy.

As stated earlier in the post, there are no easy answers on how to choose and present controversial political issues ethically. But thinking deeply about controversial political issues and using good professional judgment will help.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series on teaching controversial political issues to students.

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The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education is available on ProQuest Ebook Central or wherever books are sold.


SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

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

6 Aims of Teaching Controversial Political Issues to Students

This is the second in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students. The first post in this series discussed the benefits of teaching controversial political issues.


Educational aims are the hopeful bedrock on which every curriculum is built. They transcend class objectives, which are typically measured with tests and term papers. They are ideals that give teaching a higher purpose. They are long-term.

So what are the educational aims of a political education?

Critics often cite indoctrination, but a political education is not about forcing—or even forming—political viewpoints. It is about deliberation, the process of carefully considering and discussing political issues. It is about instilling and honoring democratic values—liberty, equality, justice—and participating in the democratic process. Although Thomas Jefferson never said that “an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people,” he surely believed it. Democracy itself depends on concerned citizens who understand democratic values and the political process.

In The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education, Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy identify the aims of teaching controversial political issues to students. Six are defined here:

1.  Political Equity

Citizens are political equals, both as a birthright and as individuals with unique needs and perspectives.

2.  Political Tolerance

Citizens have unalienable rights, regardless of political viewpoints. Those in the majority rule cannot use public policy to discriminate against or persecute those who are in the minority.

3.  Political Autonomy

Citizens are free from oppression or coercion and free to form political opinions and participate in the political process.

4.  Political Fairness

Citizens think individually and collectively about finding the best solutions to promote the common good.

5.  Political Engagement

Citizens participate politically by staying informed, debating, voting, protesting, and campaigning.

6.  Political Literacy

Citizens think critically about controversial political issues and also understand the larger political context, such as historical context, the role of government, etc.

Although these aims are not always attained, they are ideals that democratic societies hope to achieve. And research suggests that some of these aims are indeed achieved, at least to some degree, when students are exposed to controversial political issues in school.

Young adults are often criticized for not voting as soon as they turn 18, yet many of them were never exposed to controversial political issues in school. This is illogical. A high school student quoted in Hess and McAvoy’s The Political Classroom explains why the aims of a political education are vital: “We are seniors. We are going out into the real world in a few months, a few weeks, actually, from now. And, you know, we have to be exposed to that stuff some time or another. Otherwise, you are going to be completely clueless.” (105) Well said.

The next post in this controversial political issues series will address how to pick topics when teaching controversial political issues to students.

Subscribe via email to Share This and never miss a post.


The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education is available on ProQuest Ebook Central or wherever books are sold.


SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

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

6 Benefits of Teaching Controversial Political Issues to Students

This is the first in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students.

6 Benefits of Teaching Controversial Political Issues to Students


Political polarization is growing, and schools are not immune. Political divisiveness, which has been simmering in schools for a while now, boiled over during the 2016 presidential election and exposed a major problem: students struggle to talk civilly about controversial political issues. Headlines chronicling this problem are everywhere. Last October, administrators cancelled a mock election at an elementary school because they feared divisive talk. This month, Middlebury College students resorted to violence to block a controversial speaker because his viewpoints differed from their own.

Teachers, facing pressure from parents and school administrators, are now questioning whether they should be teaching controversial political issues, which have long been a part of the curriculum. According to a 2016 Southern Poverty Law Center survey, more than half of K-12 teachers reported an increase in uncivil political talk among their students, and over 40 percent said they were reluctant to teach about the 2016 presidential election.

So, we are left with one question: Should teachers cover controversial political issues in the classroom?

Let’s take the long view and turn to facts grounded in research. Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy, co-winners of the 2017 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award, published The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education in 2014. The book presents findings from their landmark four-year study on the teaching of controversial political issues in the classroom, including observations and interviews of high school teachers and their students. Hess and McAvoy found that students want to indeed learn about controversial political issues. They also found that teaching controversial political issues has real benefits for students, even—or especially—in these politically polarized times.

Here are six benefits of teaching controversial political issues to students:

  1. Engagement. Students participate more, especially when they are encouraged to be a part of class discussions.
  2. Political Literacy. Students stay more informed about controversial political issues.
  3. Tolerance. Students respect and understand other viewpoints.
  4. Confidence. Students grow more confident in holding their own viewpoints and discussing politics in general.
  5. Civil Discourse. Students learn to engage in civil discourse.
  6. Political Participation. Students vote more often later in life.

Of course, teaching controversial political issues does not come without risks. Educators face challenging ethical decisions, along with a partisan political climate. Some students may be sensitive about certain issues because they are affected in their own lives. Students need a safe environment and guidance, and teachers need to be clear about their expectations, including what is acceptable and respectful behavior. These concerns cannot be ignored.

But political divisiveness in schools doesn’t mean educators should stop teaching controversial political issues. It means educators should be teaching them more. Debating controversial political issues civilly isn’t innate. It is learned. If students are not taught to engage civilly in political debates, they cannot be expected to do so as adults. Students in Hess and McAvoy’s study demonstrated a remarkable level of maturity and intellectual growth because it was expected of them. If today’s students learn how to deliberate and discuss, they will become adults capable of civil discourse. Imagine that.

Future posts in this controversial political issues series will address other considerations, including the aims of teaching political issues, ethical issues of teaching political issues, and rules to promote civil discourse.

Subscribe via email to Share This and never miss a post.


The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education is available on ProQuest Ebook Central or wherever books are sold.


SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

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

Crowdfunding for Schools

The need for classroom supplies never goes away. Unfortunately, funding for supplies is considered discretionary spending, so it is often the first area to get cut when school budgets tighten. It’s no secret that teachers spend a lot of their own money on supplies to fill the gaps. But in recent years, teachers have been relying on crowdfunding sites, which connect teachers with a large number of donors looking to help. In 2016, teachers raised over $100 million through DonorsChoose.org, a crowdfunding site that specifically caters to education projects.

Many school supplies purchased at the beginning of the school year need to be replenished as students return from the holiday break. If you are an educator in need of funds, consider crowdfunding. And if you are someone who wants to show your support for teachers and students, consider visiting crowdfunding sites to donate.

Are you conducting any crowdfunding campaigns for your school?

If so, tell us about them on Twitter @ProQuest or in the comments below.

Thank You, Teachers and Librarians

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to reflect on what and who we are grateful for, but it also reminds us that expressing our thanks should happen year-round. Gratitude, after all, has numerous health benefits, including improved physical and psychological health. Expressing gratitude also has the ability to improve someone else’s well-being. Unfortunately, teachers and librarians rarely get the recognition they deserve.

Only 29% of teachers said that they had received recognition or praise for their work within the last seven days.

According to a Gallup employee engagement poll, only 29% of teachers said that they had received recognition or praise for their work within the last seven days. When recognition does finally arrive, it usually happens during the last days of the school year, before summer recess. Teachers and librarians work hard all year long. Recognition shouldn’t be limited to the last day of school.

At ProQuest, we recognize teachers and librarians for who they truly are: heroes. From all of us at ProQuest, thank you to teachers and librarians for your service and dedication. And Happy Thanksgiving!

How do you show gratitude? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @ProQuest or in the comments below.

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

Five Reasons Why Teachers Can Benefit from Adult Coloring Books

School is out, the papers have been graded and you’re now home and settled on the couch, ready to enjoy some Netflix — why not color?

If you think coloring is just for your students — think again.

Adult coloring books come in all shapes and sizes, with an endless parade of amusing themes. Want to shade in neon pirates in a water world? Done. What about psychedelic flower gardens complete with fairies and unicorns? These books have got you covered. Kaleidoscopic space scenes to draw your eye; dizzying schools of rainbow fish; funky dinosaurs with a twist; striking mandalas and paisley prints — all of these and more.

It’s deviously simple: pick a design, grab a colored pencil, and let your imagination do the rest. If you’re not feeling creative, that’s fine — you can still fulfill your desire to create, even as you binge through that one season of House of Cards. No flashing lights, no advertisements, no deadlines, and no stress will stand in the way of you and your turquoise, tie-dye mermaid masterpiece. Give yourself a gold star.

Can’t find the yellow pencil? Who doesn’t like blue? Accidentally draw outside the lines? Look at that marvelous new piece of abstract art.

And you certainly wouldn’t be alone. In fact, plenty of people have popularized coloring books for adults, as confirmed on Amazon’s Best Sellers book list. The trending hobby began in 2015 and has only gathered steam. Since then, coloring books have become available via e-books, digital apps, as well as online.

So grab your adult coloring book, adult pencils and your favorite adult beverage … your inner child is waiting.

Here are five ways that adult coloring books can be helpful for teachers:

1. Therapeutic

Coloring alleviates stress, reduces anxiety and increases self-esteem. Focusing on pleasantly-colored designs can also boost your overall mood. Pairs nicely with a glass of wine.

2. Enhance Creativity

When you color, you condition your brain to slowly tune out other distractions. When you finish, you can use your designs as decorations. Frame your prints and hang them in your classroom. Get your students inspired.

3. The Child Within

Escape your daily classroom routine and revisit the nostalgia of your childhood art class. This is something you can do at any age. We won’t tell if you color the dog purple.

4. Tech Detox

No eye strain here. If you’ve been staring at your computer screen more than usual, give your eyes a break with a good old-fashioned paper book. Get yourself in full Zen mode and fill in some mandalas.

5. Socialize

Haven’t seen your adult friends in a while? Host a coloring session of your own with friends. Feeling adventurous? Check your local public library for classes.


**Update**

The editors at the ProQuest Boca Raton office were inspired to show off their creative side.

color1

color2

You can download this ProQuest coloring page using the link below.

http://media2.proquest.com/documents/proquest-ala-coloring-page.pdf