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Digital Storytelling – What it really is?

By Digital Storytelling, General, Media Literacy No Comments

We all have stories to tell by Favin under Fair Use Guidelines

What is a good digital story? I used to think that using a digital tool to create a story becomes a digital story. That’s not true! I learned from my Digital Storyteller Guru – Bernajean Porter, that “When a story making is finished, it should be remembered for its soul, not for the bells and whistles of technology tools.” ~ Bernajean Porter, 2004.

Digital stories exist in our world in many different forms. Digital stories are used in advertisements to sell products, impact society through public service messages, inform consumers about something and also used during elections to win votes.  Presentations, often include a story to create an impact on our audience. They add meaning and stir the soul. Movie making is an expression of digital stories. Children can tell stories that are persuasive,  or have a public message to bring about change or simply share their personal experiences. This adds rigor to storytelling.

So, how does one create a good digital story?

One needs to learn the craft of storyboarding, voice, music, and images to create your very own digital story. Check out the difference between media-making and digital storytelling by Bernajean Porter. It’s more than just technology tools added to the images. Check out the different Types of Communication to add rigor to your digital stories and go beyond book reviews and translate them into book trailers or stories that explain a math concept or explain a historical event. It’s time to nudge ourselves and students and go beyond regurgitating facts.

IB Librarians – What makes them so special?

By General, IB Profiles, International School, Librarian's Role, Library curriculum, PYP Profiles 7 Comments

IB Librarians – What makes them so unique? People in India, often have an image of a librarian with glasses, stern and someone who hushes you to be quiet. But a librarian at an international school or IB librarians are dynamic and have a growth mindset to learn.

PYP Transdisciplinary Skills – Teacher Pay Teacher (free download)

IB Librarians learn how to connect the IB learner profiles, transdisciplinary skills and concepts to stories and the Units of Inquiry. They are often found using technology tools and various apps to help students share their learning.  IB Librarians connect through read-aloud sessions keeping in mind – Reading with a Purpose, and five keys to storytelling, supporting Literacy. With computers in the hands of the children, it’s important to teach them DigitalCitizenship  (Commonsense Media Guidelines) as a part of the library classes. Of course, all of the resources are guidelines to suit your patrons and learners.

VR Headset by Andri Koolme, Flickr, Under CC-BY 2.0)

Librarians in IB schools wear many hats: one of a curator of resources both print and digital information, they collaborate with teachers to build the collection, they co-teach with classroom teachers, maintain the library, work with the technology department and use technology tools to sharpen students understanding.

Creating with digital tools by Speed of Creativity – CC- BY-NC

They usually have the digital Library platform where they share library news, resources, and information with their learners. Now, librarians are bringing content to students by using Virtual Reality (VR) and Google Expeditions to the units.

Librarians who join international schools are often perplexed about teaching and often ask about a library curriculum. There is no stand-alone curriculum for librarians. However, I guess you will need to create one that combines the ATL or the Transdisciplinary Skills or the AASL or ISTE Standards to match the Units of Inquiry and find various ways and strategies to enrich literacy. These guidelines can give librarians accountability and direction. Many librarians are creating different planners. I was at a conference last November 2017 and the presenter – Doug Johnson recommended adopting ISTE standards. I looked at them carefully and found them to be relevant and robust, precise and attainable. Keeping the standards in mind, you can create engagements to match the Units of Inquiry.

Yes, that’s a lot of work, but I guess when a couple of librarians come together to collaborate and support each other, they can create a unique curriculum that works for their school. There is no “one size fits all” formula at International Schools. Each school is exclusive and therefore forming guidelines/engagements/ standards-based or skills-based structures to suit your learners is something for each librarian to ponder. Collaborating with your curriculum head or coordinator helps give direction. Feel free to email me for a good discussion.

Weeding Books

By Collection Development, Librarian's Role, School Libraries No Comments
Weeding Books

Books by Toby Hudson, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Weeding books – What’s that? What does that mean and why is it important and how much to weed are questions every librarian struggles with. According to Jeanette Larson, who has over thirty years of experience in various libraries says that “Weeding is the systematic removal of resources from a library based on selected criteria. It is the opposite of selecting material, though the selection and de-selection of material often involve the same thought process. Weeding is a vital process for an active collection because it ensures the collection stays current, relevant, and in good condition. Weeding should be done on a continuous, on-going basis.“.

If we accept her claim, it becomes necessary for librarians to review their collection regularly. The most popular acronym used in weeding is:

MUSTIE the crew method
M = If books have misleading and/or factually inaccurate information
U = Ugly, yellow, faded and cannot be mended
S = Superseded, that means there is a better and new version of the book
T = Trivial and has no discernible literary or scientific merit
I = Irrelevant to the needs and interests of your community
E = The material or information that can be obtained through other means electronic format or library loads.

However, there are books weeded based on time.  It is often said, that if the books are not circulated in three or five years, it is time to find a new home for the resources. However, classics, award-winning book, books about local history and geography, stories by local writers, books gifted or local literature are often maintained until they become MUSTIE.

Encyclopediae are always a question for Librarians. There is a lot of money invested in it, so it becomes very painful to get rid of them. In this age of the internet, I believe, that print encyclopedia does not play a vital role in the Library and if fact, it could easily be replaced by the internet and a computer since both costs almost the same. And, it is believed that if the encyclopedia is over ten years old, it’s information becomes irrelevant.

Different subjects areas have different shelf lives. Resources under subject areas like technology, medicine, media, agriculture, careers, and sciences like biology, engineering often are regularly updated. Therefore, copyright of these books beyond 3-5 years must be checked and weeded. While the arts, history, geography, children’s literature, biographies could be targetted to 10 years. However, if they look shoddy and pale, you may want to weed that too.

I think the hardest job for librarians is to weed the collection especially our favorite subject areas and other favorite books. However, for the library collection to stay relevant and fresh, it is necessary to set some time during the year to weed out the resources. Yes, every year, it is time to say goodbye to some of the resources.

And, then the question arises, how much to weed? I would say weed according to the criteria, even if it means to have fewer books in your library. Stacking books on our shelves in your library does not make the library relevant and useful. If no one is using the resources, why keep them? Isn’t the library supposed to be a learning place for our users? No educational institutes should have a bookkeeper and a library of irrelevant resources!

Electronic resources that are not relevant must be weeded out too.  I can almost hear some librarians say, OMG, we’ve spent so much time and money in procuring these resources – but as Ranganathan said – What use are the resources if they are not in the hands of the users?

Basic Elements in a Library Policy?

By General, Librarian's Role No Comments

Policy by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images Under  CC BY-SA 3.0

“What are some of the components of a Library Policy,”  a friend from our library tribe asked me last week, this triggered me to write this blog post.

It doesn’t matter whether the library is in an International School, a CBSE, ICSE or even an SSC school. A library policy defines who the patrons of the library are and describe the services the library provides.  When policies are in place, the credibility of requests for funds and services receive due notice and acceptance. And, there is scope for enhancing the services and place for growth.

Policies establish a standard for services that can be understood by users and providers. It ensures equitable treatment for all and provides a framework and standards for delivery of service. All policies are not set in stone and these are guidelines that will need to be revisited every two years and revised. Revisions allow libraries to grow and meet the changing needs of the patrons.

Components of a basic library policy:

  1. The mission statement of a library: This statement can be created by keeping the mission statement of the educational institute or the institute that the library is associated with.
  2. Description of the library: This includes the number of books and other resources including the online databases, magazine, and toys that may be available.
  3. Patrons of the library: Describes who the clients are and who does the library services, of course, not forgetting the community at large you serve.
  4. Services of the library: Includes the timings, the number of resources available to check out, photocopy services, computers available for research and the rules and norms that go with it (including fines and lost items fee).
  5. Collection Development: This may include how the librarian develops the collection, the different criteria used by the librarian to develop the resources.
  6. Online Databases available: This may include details for membership
  7. Weeding Procedure: Without weeding, the collection of the library can never be an alive and current and cannot serve the present community. Therefore, criteria for weeding should be specified too.
  8. Events hosted by the library: It could be author visits, storytelling sessions, readers theatre, puppet shows, drawing & art programs, maker engagements or simply poetry slams.

Should you need support to create your library policy, you may contact me at bhojwaniheeru@gmail.com

 

What is Summer Slide?

By General, Librarian's Role, Reading and Writing No Comments

Libros y ebooks by Tina Franklin under (CC BY-SA 2.0)

What is Summer Slide?

It is believed that if students do not continue reading and learning during the summer, there is a downward slide in their learning path. To prevent the summer slide, educators recommend that children continue to read, write, question, and reflect during the summer holidays.

Before school’s close for the summer, teachers and librarians are often found providing summer reading lists to students and parents. I believe, students and adults alike must be allowed to choose their reading materials based on personal choice and interest. This will enable readers to explore different avenues of information and experiences based on personal passions and curiosity.

Reading is considered as an excellent path to keep the new synaptic connections alive. Summer reading and summer camps are some of the ways often take to keep up with the summer slide. 

The digital age has transformed every aspect of our lives, reading and books are not an exception. Mobile devices, multimedia publishing, and social technologies have impacted our reading experiences. Today’s youth is downloading books, listening to stories. and watching book trailers. Stories now contain text, images, and sounds that reflect the changing landscape of reading.  Studies have found that digital reading devices promote new literacy practices such as digital note-taking, and provide readers control over how they engage with texts. Ebooks feature additional tools such as highlighters, note-taking, adjusting font size, inserting note features and recording are parts of the digital world of stories. 

So, why not use these opportunities to provide a platform for eReading to our students.

Link to free eBooks and Audio Books for Elementary and Secondary School 

Printed book reviews can be found on Young India Books. An excellent collection of Indian books can be purchased from Duckbill and Peacock Feathers. Keep the reading going and allow wisdom and imagination to grow!

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