5 Keys to Story Telling

By General, Librarian's Role, PYP Attitudes, PYP Profiles, Reading and Writing 3 Comments

5 Keys to Story Telling are:

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” Brandon Sanderson, Fantasy and Science fiction writer.

It is through stories, we build a child’s imagination, deepen thinking and help them navigate the world around us.  Librarians are storytellers. There are so many stories to be told and read. Let’s use them appropriately and help students question the world and communities around them. Instead of simply memorizing, retelling or regurgitating the information we want to inculcate curiosity and reflection. As adults, we can open up possibilities to help children kindle their mind by nudging them to question, critically evaluate, investigate, critique and get inspired by them. Human beings love stories, both the old and the young – think of the time when your curiosity was piqued! It must have been a story that touched your heart and mind.

So, when you grab a book to read to the children, make sure the stories generate thinking.

5 keys to keep in mind when reading aloud to children:

  1. Select stories that would help children think critically and reflect on the stories.  (How is the character similar or different from you? What if it was your experience, how would you change it? If there is a problem in the story – pause and ask – How would you solve the problem? What are some other ways to solve the problem?)
  2. Select stories with a voice, that share experiences of other cultures, sects, and belief systems, so that children appreciate the variety of cultures, ethnicity and simultaneously respect them. (Ask how is the character’s belief different from yours? How is their culture similar and different? What might you do to create an understanding of their roles? How can we learn and respect different cultures and ethnicity?)
  3. Stories expressed with emotion and authenticity help them think of ways to solve social, economic or environmental problems. (Ask children – How might the character be feeling in the given situation? What can the character do to solve the problem? What might be some of the changes you can do save the situation? What are some problems in the world? How can they be addressed? How can we be empowered to help our world?)
  4. Connect stories of the past with the present – get students to ask questions like Why? Why not? If? How could? When should? and How come? How has it changed over time? Why is it necessary to change? How can we help it become better? What will it look like now?
  5. Stories that have information, building curiosity around the way the world works. Information books about technology, engineering, robotics, countries, currencies, forests, wildlife are some areas that we can discuss. (Ask how inventions have changed the way we live our lives? What might be the future trends? Look at the timelines and make predictions)

Stories are a diving board for cognitive growth. Think about a story that you still remember, they were told with emotions and sincerity. Such stories create a longer connect and have a lasting impact.  Stories that resonate and touch the heart and mind of the child are stories they will remember. Let’s take this opportunity to instill in their mind the ability to contribute and make a difference to themselves and others.

How do you know your news is fake, real or filled with bias?

By General, Media Literacy, Media Literacy & Information Literacy One Comment

News From Different Sources Photo Credit: Sollok29 Source: Wikimedia Commons Under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

How do you know your story is fake, real or filled with bias?

Well, it is challenging. The news comes in many different forms – from Newspapers, Whatsapp Messages, Facebook, Television and of course from other forms of social media. But how do we recognize real news from the fake news?

Here are key features to keep in mind when reading the news as well as coaching this to our students or patrons.

  1. Consider the origin of the news: Where has news item come from? Who is the author of the article? What are his/her credentials? If there is no author, I would ignore the message.
  2. Go beyond the headlines: Check if the headlines match the content of the article.  The headlines can often be misleading, and the headline could only tell you half the truth.
  3. Check the dates of the article: Sometimes, news stories are repeated, that doesn’t mean they are irrelevant, it just means you need to know if the story has been told before and is misinterpreted in present contexts.
  4. Look for biases: If the article has a leaning towards a particular viewpoint – then you know that it leans towards the left or right. Bias articles often don’t give you both views. Always check the links of the stories and see where it leads. If it evokes strong emotions, know it could be biased.
  5. Check the urls of the websites: Sometimes the news websites do not match the URL’s you may at this point want to check the “About us” page to tell you about the authenticity of the website.
  6. Slogans and breaking news items evoke many  strong reactions, check the URL, whole story and of course the author/source of the item.

There are few Fact Checker extensions that you can use to check for the authenticity of your news. One such one is First Draft News Check that you can download on to your phone or your computer.

This is short video and article from Swachh Digital India by The Quint

 

Are Librarians Relevant in Today’s World?

By General, Information Literacy, Librarian's Role, Media Literacy & Information Literacy, Professional Development 3 Comments
Computer Communication

Literature, Information and Media Literacy – Computer Communication –  CC0 Public Domain

Are Librarian’s relevant in today’s world? What’s the role of librarians in schools? Do we really need librarians in schools and colleges? Or are they only keepers of books?

Libraries are the central hubs of learning. Libraries have been a storehouse of books and been synonymous with knowledge. And, therefore, to gain knowledge a student goes to an educational institution and visits the library to build on their learning experience. Now, things are different! Learning is happening everywhere.

With the advent of the Internet in 1986 in India and growing connection in every Indian state, we have come a long way with the acquisition of information. Information is now available at the fingertips of every individual who owns a smartphone. So, the question we need to ask all librarians is – Are Librarians obsolete in today’s world? Do we need a library or librarians to help us find information?

The answer to the questions is YES!  But, how can we as librarians, reinvent ourselves to stay relevant and feel accomplished in our job? The only answer is to LEARN. Find ways to stay relevant. Choose autonomy and courage to try new lessons with our students and equip ourselves. Today, as librarians we need to be Meta Literate. As librarians, we must have five primary objectives to guide our patrons, whoever they might be.  Tom Mackey & Trudi Jacobsen,  advocates Metaliteracy.

6 Primary Goals recommended are:

  1. To help individuals, evaluate all content critically and understand differences in articles, blogs, reprints, wikis, media products and websites
  2. We must learn and support personal digital privacy, encourage information ethics and protect intellectual proper in our technology environment
  3. Library Hubs or Learning Commons must provide a participatory environments for people with similar interests work collaboratively, and learn from each other through interest groups
  4. Another key role is to help learners with research strategies to help them in their personal, academic and/or professional inquiry.
  5. Support learners to become better communicators of information through reading, writing and/or creating media or infographics to convey meaning.
  6. Develop the art of reading and craft of writing for you and for other learners.

Dr. Albert Ryan an educator and a freelance writer, says, it is very important for students to learn about information and media literacy. Anubhati Yadav,  an advocate of media literacy claims that media literacy in schools is a must.

In my belief, since Librarians are the experts in curating, sharing and knowledge experts, it is therefore critical, for us to take this opportunity to update our skills in learning Literature and Writing workshops. And, learn about Information and Media Literacy in our new educational environment.

So, how we do that? There is no formal training in India for librarians or teachers to learn about Information and Media Literacy. It is urgent in our present scenario. There are many free courses of Information & Media Literacy available on Coursera,  UNESCO – Information and Media Literacy, AUB and other MOOCs Online There are several Massive Open Online Courses -free cost available.

All we need is to develop a mindset of growth.  We need courage and openness to learning. We want the consumers of information and media to make informed choices and not be carried away with propaganda and misinterpretation of media and news. All information gatherers learn not only from print but media, graphs, infographics, audio recordings, videos and a combination of all of the above, thus making them Metaliterate. This is one of the goals a librarian must keep in mind in supporting the learning community.

Whatsapp Messages: How True Are They?

By Information Literacy, Media Literacy No Comments

Watsapp Messages by Riomar Bruno, – CC0 Creative Commons

Whatsapp messages: How accurate are they? According to the International International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, there are 750 million Watsapp users in the world. And 20 million are added every month all over the world. That’s a lot!

20 Million Watsapp Users in India by Statistics Inc

In India alone, according to the Mashable Survey. There are 200 million WhatsApp users, and if we put these two statistics together, there is no doubt that the numbers of social media users in India are growing at a rapid rate.  This is fantastic news! Information and media are being used by every person to communicate their thoughts, ideas, and messages efficiently.  Advertisers, political, social, religious and other parties are promisingly using the social media to benefit them.

As consumers, of these messages, it is essential for all: children, the youth, and adults to be able to evaluate these messages.  Three Questions to ask when you view a message:

  1. Why was this message/media created? [ Was it to educate me, persuade me, or entertain me]
  2. Who created this message? [ Marketers, Educators, Political or Ideological Parties]
  3. What values and points of views are embedded in this message? [Have they covered both pros and cons of the message]

Most messages on Watsapp are created without the author’s name. It is, therefore, crucial to know who the creator is. Is he/she an expert in the field?  Is the information or media backed up by real evidence? Is he/ she trying to persuade you towards the object or idea?

What if your best friend sends you a message about a remedy that will help you lose weight quickly or some herbal concoction that will help improve our child’s memory? For an intelligent adult like you, it is imperative to make a rational decision and not jump on the bandwagon of believing everything you read to be true. The internet has all kinds of information, and it is up to you to make right decisions for you and your family.

Here is another example of the Plastic Rice video that went viral last year. There were questions all over India that plastic rice was being substituted for real rice. Nobody did a fact check, the blame game and fear of plastic rice spread virally, hurting the rice manufacturers, hoteliers, and others. What a shame! We thought wise to pass on the messages to help our friends and family – Did we stop to ask these three questions. Did we check the origin of this video? What we did was add fuel to the fire. Think, evaluate before you forward any message next time.

You will need to do a fact check and research on the information you have received before accepting it or forwarding it. Is there enough evidence to back the claim that is being made, if yes,  go ahead and share otherwise PAUSE?  Boomlive. In, Factchecker are some of the fact-checking websites, that can help you identify fake from real. Adding a Fact Checker Extn on your internet browser can help you check your facts.

What Should 21st Century Libraries Look Like?

By General, Learning Commons No Comments

Redefining Library Spaces  

Redefining School Library Spaces…

Libraries in International schools currently are much more than just storehouses of books; they are in fact community hubs of learning. They are a confluence of the age-old tradition of books with the new age information technologies. A lot of the international schools have set up libraries to be multifunctional. They are completely equipped with all the audio and visual technology resources and the latest electronics like laptops and iPads and also a structured Wi-Fi network to cater to the internet needs of the school community. As we know, dissemination of information is done in this igeneration through a variety of platforms. Libraries provide to the increasing needs of what we might call a meta-literate learner. According to Mackey and Jacobsen*,a meta-literate learner is a person in this digital social age who digs deeper into the search process, asks the right questions, considers privacy and ethics while adapting to the new technologies. The modern library provides a conducive place for meta literate learners to be responsible for sharing content in open environments and have the critical thinking required to engage in the cyberspace. This, in turn, empowers learners with the right information. There is plenty of individual assistance provided here to those who are unfamiliar with specific technologies and platforms as well.

Most of us may routinely be asking if we have all the information available at the click of a button. Why do we need help? The answer is simple. Fundamental accessibility to information does not translate directly into necessary information. Libraries work on evaluating credible information according to a variety of criteria like age appropriateness, academic authority, points of view and varied interest inquiries. It also gives you factual and real information.

Neil Gaiman puts it nicely when he says, ‘Google can bring you back 10000 answers, but a librarian gives you the right one’.
Librarians go so much further than getting you a book; they are now called an information curator and coach. Education needs of the students and the school community are holistically met by the librarians using one on one discussions and counseling. Collaborative spaces also go as far as student study groups and mentoring for school work. Hobby Interest groups have regular sessions in the modern library providing the ideal collaborative and community space for parents to become writers and readers too. Librarians with parent collaboration can lead to “Writers Clubs” and “Book Clubs” to support and groom budding new writers and readers. An avatar that the librarians have easily manifested.

The latest development in libraries is creative places called Maker spaces. Maker spaces are designed to be a place where both old and new technologies are displayed. A fascinating 3D printer, building circuit designs or an even a tinkering with a robotic gadget tantalizes the young minds into creating something new and innovative. The primary purpose of this being to develop new skills and also share these skills with others in the school community.

Libraries in International schools are now named aptly as ‘learning commons’ catering to the ever creative needs of the numerous consumers and helping to educate the school community like never before. It ranks undoubtedly as one of the coolest places to be at!

*“METALITERACY-Reinventing information literacies to empower learners” By Thomas P. Mackey and Trudi E. Jacobsen

Guest Post by Ms. Gayathri Durairaj

What should a read aloud look like?

By General No Comments

Have You Ever Thanked a Tree by Shyamala Shanmugasundaram

India is a country of a million tales, grandmother tales, old wives tales, thousands of animal tales and mythology, legends, and many more stories and in many dialects. Stories always absorb every human being. In fact, in a rblog post by Hemang Mehta, he says, what we share on social media is usually stories or sayings that touch our hearts. What touches our hearts, helps us remember and learn.

Reading aloud stories open the windows of our hearts and minds in the land of mystery and magic and possibility of ideas and dreams. Through read-aloud sessions, children discover passions and ways to express themselves. And, through stories, we can teach grammar, life lessons, pique interest in sciences, math, arts, technology, and biography. Why shouldn’t we include this in our regular life with our children and teach them through stories?

Reading aloud means becoming a storyteller, imbibing the content, using your voice and heart to tell the story. It opens the window into the world of magic, and enormous possibilities. You can read both fiction and nonfiction, magazines and even news articles.

Reading aloud must be meaningful and intentional. Being intentional creates a culture of listening and helps listeners look deeper into the elements of writing in good pieces of literature. Interactive read aloud sessions have 6 strands according to  Linda Hoyt. Each of these elements can be taught through a picture book.

  1. Comprehension: This strand utilizes prior knowledge and asks questions to support summarizations and allow students to distinguish real from make beliefs. Terms such as main ideas, causes and effect, analyse and evaluate that commonly appear in standards of comprehension can be taught
  2. Story Elements:  This strand includes identifying events in a plot sequence, author’s purpose, tracking character development, statement of theme and examining structural elements such as climax, setting, problem/solution and role of the narrator (we must understand each of these terms before we teach them to our students)
  3. Vocabulary/Literary Language:  Through this strand, we can help students observe the power of precise vocabulary, appreciate rhythm, rhyme onomatopoeia, alliteration and literary language and to understand the meanings of unfamiliar words through contextual cues, transition words and multiple meanings in the texts (Again, it’s important for us to learn about these terms that build literary language)
  4. Literary elements and devices: Literary elements such as point of view, foreshadowing, repetition and exaggeration, getting at the heart of the authors’ studies of text to understand author’s vision. Simile, metaphors and personification are some of the literary devices. (These definitions can be googled and applied when the adult holds the picture book in their hand)
  5. Genre: Fiction, nonfiction fairy tale, drama, science fiction and so on – each has their particular structure. Exploring this with the students helps students learn what to expect from each genre (Identifying and differentiating these genres help us have deeper conversation with our students)

Engaging students with reading aloud times naturally lends itself to students to write while exploring different ideas. organization of text, voice, convention and so on. They begin to mirror and appreciate different writers’ styles.

What is the Jarul Book Award?

By Librarian's Role, Reading and Writing One Comment
Voted by children for children

Jarul Book Award: Indian Picture Book

Jarul Book Award is the only award in India that gives voice and choice to children. Students from Kindergarten to Standard Five is given a chance to read and vote for the best book. They choose, analyze and critically appreciate by selecting the best picture books based on several criteria. Here is the 2017-18 Jarul Book Award Winner.

India has some great outstanding awards like the Jnanpith Award, Sahitya Akademi Awards with different categories and Hindu Literary Awards. Each of these national awards acknowledges works of authors, illustrators, and publishers whose passion lies in bringing out the best literature for readers. Indian culture has a plethora of folklore, fables, and mythology. It is only recently in the last decade; private organizations have established literary awards to inspire,  acknowledge, appreciate different genres as well as give voice to authors with new ideas. Many awards like the Jarul Book Award,  Crossword AwardBig Little  Book Award, and the Hindu Young Book Awards are among the few that acknowledge creative thinking and celebrate Indian Literature. Thanks to publishers like Karadi Tales, Tulika,  Fingerprint, Katha, Little Latitude and others. Times of India covered this story and helped support Jarul Award. 

Today’s children whether they are in cities, towns, and villages are open-minded, they are thinkers, and they need good literature to inspire them in our modern setting.  Our story must not be like that of  Chimamanda Adichie – The Danger of a Single Story where she believed that her stories she wrote must only have “western characters” and there was no room for characters like herself in Literature. We must create an open environment for our children to explore, dream, write and share their world beyond folklore, mythology or stories that must have a moral at the end.

Encouraging our children to write and share their experiences will only help create empathy and friendships among different ideologies and different cultures. Deccan Herald writes about Obama’s Town Hall visit, where a transgender, who is marginalized, asked what she could do to stop stigmatization. He said, ” The change begins with finding your voice, and you must be able to articulate your views and your experiences, to tell your story, and that is true for any group, marginalized, stigmatized.” Obama said, ” finding the voice and being able to tell that story leads to breaking down of perceptions that “you are different”. Because then people will start to “recognize their own experiences in you.”

Reading picture books and giving children opportunities to write, expressing their experiences and sharing them, bring respect, empathy and most of all friendships. I like what Voltaire said, ” Writing is the painting of the voice.” Let’s give our students an opportunity to express their world through their eyes. Check out the Jarul Book Award Website to empower your students.

How to Prepare for a Library Job Interview?

By Librarian's Role 5 Comments

What can you do to have a successful interview that puts you in the league of contemporary librarians?

It’s this time of the year, starting January all the way to June when job openings begin to emerge in both local and international schools. And, one begins to think about newer opportunities. One of my dear friend, says, “Once in a while, going for an interview tells you, your worth in the market.” scary but true! Keeping this in mind, I did a little research on some of the questions that might come up in the interview, apart from the regular ones we prepare for.

Firstly, send in your CV to the human resource department (HR). They will pass your CV to the right person, that’s the general protocol. You will be called and invited.

Secondly, it is important to read up on the latest trends and the school that you are interviewing with. Don’t be afraid to say you do not know.  The interviewers don’t ask what is already mentioned in your CV, what’s the point? Interviewers want to get to know your educational belief and philosophy along with your strengths and weaknesses, your enthusiasm and the desire to learn.  An interview is more of a conversation to get to know each other.

Here is a list of ten questions to help you think about yourself?

  1. Why do you wish to work at our school? What draws you to this institution?
  2. Tell us about two books that you’ve read recently? (Describe rather more than giving the titles of the books – this tell a lot)
  3. The interviewer might give you different scenarios: Suppose a student /parent comes into the library to complete a school project – what would you do?     
  4. Describe your experience using technology and assisting people with technology in any setting?
  5. In your opinion, what are the top 3 things that libraries can do to impact its users and why?
  6. Describe what your interaction or your class looks like when you interact with students?
  7. What according to you are your strengths and weaknesses?
  8. Describe what teamwork or collaboration looks like to you in your experience? 
  9. Describe your management style?
  10. How do you stay current in your field?

Other topics you may want to consider:  Your views on the use of ebooks,  information and media ethically. Different web 2.0 tools that you have used or learning to use.  How would you deal with a problem situation? A successful project that you have been a part of and what makes you tick or enjoy in your role as a librarian.

Here are some questions you may want to ask your interviewer:

  1. What is the decision-making process or the protocol in bringing about changes in the library? ( This is when the Heads are looking to revamp the library and      you may want to know the protocol of the organization)
  2. What databases or software do they currently use? (This will give you time to learn and prepare for your new role)
  3. What kind of training and professional development will I be offered? (This shows your desire to learn and grow)
  4. Would you share some light on the procurement and collection development philosophy or process? (Only if you are interested)
  5. How does the faculty or students or the community view the library at your school? (This will give you a brief overview of your future role and the current situation)

5 skills for today’s librarians

By Librarian's Role, Media Literacy & Information Literacy One Comment
Creative Commons: Disha Aswani

Supporting information and media literacy

Education in India is evolving and changing. Teachers are imbibing new ideas and strategies to impact student learning. It’s time for librarians to evolve, change and grow.  With a growth mindset for change and desire to be relevant, there are 5 skills for librarians to learn and build upon:

1. Learn a new tech tool or skill to help all learners, both adults, and students

2.  Skill to  curate, evaluate and use information ethically

3. Skill to decipher fake news from real news

4. Skill to critically evaluate media

5. Skill to create flexible schedules and lessons to support relevant information and learning in a digital world to all

Libraries are meant to be the center of learning and not a storehouse of books. Librarians are no more ‘keeper of books’ but supporters of learners. In this digital age, learning goes beyond the textbooks. Learners use the internet, youtube, and social media to learn about their hobbies, their interests, their queries and for entertainment. So, in today’s times and more than any other time that librarians need not only talk about change and read about the modern changes happening around the world, and take an active part in upskilling their role and positively impact learners.

Information and Media Literacy

By Media Literacy & Information Literacy No Comments

Learning together about Information and Media Literacy

This week I had an opportunity to meet with a group of librarians through MISA – Members of International Schools. We, Librarians, talked about the importance of Information and Media Literacy and how important it is for us to think analytically and critically about the information and media that we consume every day. Right from waking up in the morning, we are drawn to our mobiles for the WhatsApp messages, our Facebook or Instagram updates. Soon, after that, we turn our TV sets for our regular spiritual gyans, news or simply our private channels that we subscribe to. Our children are silent or active consumers of our morning routine. Each one of us, children and adults are then off to work or school and are continually bombarded with advertisements on buses, billboards, and trains, basically, our media-saturated world. Before we are misguided or misinformed, we must learn to understand, analyze, evaluate media and information, so that we are able to make informed choices. According to Center for Media Literacy, we need to be asking 5 questions: Who created the media?  What creative techniques have been used to create media?  How might different people view this message, differently from me? Why is this message sent?  What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in; or omitted in this message?

Asking these questions helps us navigate the busy media world in a safe way, Asking questions can help us make informed decisions about money, health, government, and work. We need to think about our beliefs, what is important to us and how we can make informed decisions that will help our family, friends, and humanity at large. Having diverse perspectives and multiple perspectives can help broaden our beliefs. What we must be careful of not being skewed in our thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. This happens when we begin to only view, read, and move to a direction of what we want to learn or continue to believe it. When we do this, we must consciously try and seek different perspectives so that we have a better understanding of a topic. Take for example” Raj adopted a Vegan Diet and his life changed for him. He was suffering from a Migraine,  now, he has few headaches. He insists his family move toward a vegan diet for good health.  He shares his experiences, his knowledge, and correct information about a vegan diet to all. Should I adopt a vegan diet, should I not analyze my lifestyle, my belief, and knowledge of other diets to help me make an informed decision that suits my physical and mental state of the body. Thus, learning to get a variety of perspectives from information and media can help me make informed choices.