By Christie Riegelhaupt
Supervising Editor, Content Operations
As editors, we are privileged at times to get out of the office and visit schools and libraries to witness how librarians, media specialists, teachers and students use ProQuest resources at their points of need. We recently visited Palm Beach Gardens Community High School in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, and observed a recipe for student engagement: the collaboration of a media specialist and teacher.
Deb Svec, media specialist, collaborates with as many teachers as she can who are willing to join her on fun, innovative projects for high school students. Knowing this, we were very excited when Deb welcomed us to her media center to consult on use of our resources and observe her current project in partnership with 10th grade English teacher Julie Mooney. Deb and Julie joined forces for a lesson centered on the book Escape from Camp 14, the story “of the only known person born inside a North Korean prison camp to have escaped.” (Nonfiction was selected due to Language Arts Florida Standards’ emphasis on nonfiction proficiency.)
The nine-week lesson starts with pre-research to learn about the contextual themes of the book, including North Korea, human rights, genocide, torture, and historical comparison to the holocaust. Deb demonstrates three ProQuest resources in the media center: CultureGrams for country research, eLibrary for in-depth current and historical reference and SIRS Issues Researcher to delve into the ethical angles.
Then with Julie’s guidance, students team up in the computer lab to research ProQuest resources and gather as many facts as they can. In another class, they produce posterboards illustrating their research, which are posted in the classroom for reference.
Next, the students are immersed in the story of Shin Dong-hyuk through reading and discussion of the book. As their understanding is enlightened through the narrative of Escape from Camp 14, students return to the media center to dig deeper into thematic research in ProQuest resources, including eLibrary Research Topics specially created by editors for this topic. In subsequent class activities to engage in critical thinking, students answer questions through Cranium Core games to prompt in-depth discussion and promote comprehension.
In their final project, the students collaborate and produce public service announcements (PSAs) on the horrors of North Korean internment camps. These PSAs are broadcast via the school media network.
At the end of other book units, Deb and her collaborative teachers often invite authors for Skype or in-person visits with the students. Students are inspired by the experience of interacting with authors who often have experiences similar to their own.
Collaborative lessons like Escape from Camp 14 don’t just promote rote knowledge, but build college-ready skills through collaboration, reading comprehension, technology use, information literacy, critical thinking, and oral presentation. Educators like Deb and Julie are an example of how collaborative teaching and use of media center resources provide dynamic immersive learning.
This post was originally published on the ProQuest Share This blog on November 12, 2014. It is reprinted with permission.