Fake News

By | General | One Comment

Image by Wikimedia Commons

One time or another, we all fall for fake news and fake information especially when the information touches our heart and mood. As a librarian, I am a firm believer of not posting information without double checking for facts but just the other day, someone forwarded a message on Whatsapp sincerely urging the readers to share the information and help young students receive a scholarship by a very multinational company, and the message also read that it was not a fake message, and to please pass it (and it sounded urgent).  Being human and vulnerable, at this point, I highlighted the message and passed it on immediately, and thankfully, I had passed on this to my Library Group, who very ethically asked me to double check my information and reminded me that the message was a HOAX. Thankfully, this saved me the embarrassment in other groups.

As adults, we often succumb to social media pressure, what about our students? This incident, only reminded me how necessary it is for us to have constant reminders about the importance of constantly checking for the credibility of information, especially in this fast-paced world of news and information.

Here are some gentle reminders: How to identify Fake News on Whatsapp in Hindi (Video -3.44)

How to identify Fake News in India by Dhruv Rathee in Hindi (Video – 9:17)

How to spot Fake News in India by The Quint in English (Video – 3:22)

Besides using the strategies mentioned in the videos, we could also check out the alternative/fact-checking websites and some are:

Why should YOU care whether you get real or fake news? I think it is because:

  • You deserve the truth
  • Fake news destroys your credibility
  • Fake news can hurt you, and a lot of other people
  • Real news can benefit you

That’s why it is important for us to always double check our information and have the real information benefit our lives.

Library & After School Clubs

By | ASA, General, Reading and Writing, School Libraries | No Comments

Library and enrichment programs or after school activities are becoming very popular in both local and international schools. There is merit in our role in inspiring our students who can find refuge, respect, and freedom in the choices that they make — a safe environment to explore their world.

Librarians can offer all kinds of workshops for all ages. It can be ideas from the Maker Trends, ranging from knitting to crochet, creating logos and websites, using 3D printers to replicate to make prototypes that are useful. They can learn digital art, paints, color, and design in the learning space of the Library. Librarians can either mentor the workshops or offer the venue for all these activities.

Librarians can offer – Reading Clubs that allow students to look deeper into the craft of writing, analyze and understand the genre by pointing out different writing crafts that make that book a particular style.

Writing Clubs, where students write their narratives and librarians can support by hosting their stories online or in print. As librarians,  we need to provide a space of free expressions where students can write about every and any topic without being judgemental. In a world where students are influenced by biases based on gender, class, caste, race and economic differences, the library can be a venue where students can assert their voice and feel acknowledged.

Picture Book Clubs bring about lots of interest to little as well as older children. In the picture book clubs, one can read different picture books, keeping the focus on genres; writers can collaborate with artists to create their picture books. Explore folklore from around the world. Or even look at different artwork in the picture books and learn about them.

Wellness Clubs can be in many formats. It can include poetry, dance, simple mindfulness techniques blended with picture books or writing.

Creating eBooks, Graphic novels, Calligraphy, Photostories, Photojournalism, Spoken Poetry are some of the clubs that can be a part of the library engagements.

Should you think of other engagements you have conducted in your school, please add them to the comment section, it will help inspire me.

Should Librarians Ban Books or Stand Up for Freedom?

By | Collection Development, General, Reading Program | No Comments

Should librarians ban books that are controversial or stand up for freedom of expression?

The primary role of a library is to promote the progress of knowledge, promote love for reading and through this give people a better quality of life. Libraries are centers of all forms of learning. Scientists, artists, and philosophers have discussed, learned and grown in their fields of knowledge only because of libraries. Libraries have always witnessed controversial debate only to bring out the best of knowledge.

Looking back into history there has been many classics and other novels that have been banned at schools and in many countries. More often than not, books with sexual content, profanity, offensive language, stories based on chemical abuse (drugs), satanic themes, religious preferences have been subject to complaints and have pressured librarians not to include such content in the schools. Sometimes, it is the plot or the characters’ viewpoint that impacts morality making it the contention for books to be banned.

Robert A. Heinlein said about censorship: “The whole principle is wrong; it’s like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can’t eat steak.” A library is a venue to provide the users with all forms of information and not control it in any way, even if librarians do not like or agree with some of the content.

You may argue, that the librarians have a moral duty to their students and therefore needs to carefully curate books and help them have a balanced approach to all forms of knowledge. And, on the other hand, we do want our students to think, make informed decisions and choices, have an opportunity to discuss, learn, and find solutions to the problems that may have cropped up in the story.

In Rodney A. Smolla research paper, “Freedom of Speech for Libraries and Librarians” she says, “Like art museums, libraries will be among the repositories of knowledge and culture in a modern society that can expect to find themselves under increasing pressure to serve as society’s censors.” And as librarians, we must have the courage to fight against censorship. Here are some examples of books that were banned at one time or the other.

To kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple was banned for a while because it was said to promote racial discrimination and racial hatred. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain was considered immoral and for having sacrilegious content. Harry Potter series was deemed to be anti-family, violent, and satanic. Another classic, Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck, was banned because of profanity. Looking For Alaska by John Green as taken away from libraries for “offensive language” and “sexually explicit content.”

Recently, a group of parents and teachers talked about banning fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, and other such tales which had wicked plots and made step parents and abandoning of children, unnerving plots and they believed that these stories created a negative impact on little children. So, where do we stop and what do librarians do?

Do we become strong and stand up for freedom of knowledge by supporting challenging options, when adding books to our collection? Do we introduce students to LGBTQ books? Do we create an open society of communication and individual rights or do we shun them under hypocrisy and fear? Do we provide an opportunity for healthy discussion and openmindedness, where students can learn and discuss? Or close their minds under the garb of protecting them. What do we do? Do we begin to have an open discussion with parents and share our rationale with them? Do we trust our children to be intelligent enough to have a rational discussion or think of them to be dumb witted? Do we stand up for a reason or given in to being the nurturing and protective agents? Here is a list of books that were banned in India. And here is a list of LGBTQ Books and here is a list of controversial books you might want to have in your library.

Reading Logs and DEAR

By | Book Talk, General, Literacy, Readaloud, Reading and Writing, Reading Program, School Libraries | No Comments

What is a Reading Log?

Are they useful? Do you think reading logs can help readers be accountable for what they are reading and how much they are reading?

Adding time and page numbers to the reading log – Will that accurately tell how much students are reading, why they are reading and what they have accomplished from their reading? Do we as adults follow it?

Reading logs are now being replaced by reading responses, that is nudging students to be analytical thinkers by carefully analyzing the structure and word choice of text while reading. An interesting article Goodbye Reading logs from Scholastic shows you how you can help build readers during your library classes with your students.

What is Dear?

DEAR – Drop everything and read is another opportunity provided for students to stop and read. Language class teachers often use this strategy to support learning in class. Librarians can also use DEAR for 10 minutes of their class and have students read with meaning, you may use graphic organizers to compare settings, characters or even the genre of the books or magazine that they are reading.

Other reading responses could be:

  1. Analyze the character in the book with someone you know or compare the character with your sibling?
  2. What is the author’s purpose, and how do you know that?
  3. If it’s a nonfiction book – compare and contrast.
  4. What are the facts and opinions in the passages, and explain them with pieces of evidence?
  5. What are the problems that you infer in the passage/story? What makes you say so?
  6. Identify the character’s point of view? Compare them with your views. (You can use emotions too)
  7. What current events come to your mind, while you are reading this passage?
  8. What connections can you make with history or modern-day technology?
  9. What inferences can you make about the passages you are reading?
  10. Identify some of the sensory words and create a poem with those words?
  11. Write five words or phrases that might summarize what you have read.
  12. Explain your reading with a metaphor or a meme.

Of course, teacher librarians will need to model the responses and demonstrate with an example so that students too can closely read with deeper comprehension.

Plagiarism: Take it seriously!

By | Copyright, General, Information Literacy, Research Skills | No Comments

Recently, a few poets accused Ailey O’Toole of selecting parts of their poetry and using it in her poetry to express herself. Incidentally, she was also nominated for the Pushcart Prize for her poem Gun Metal (which was plagiarized). The Guardian has all the details about the case. This incident made several publishers pull down O’Toole’s Works from their sites.  Although she has been very apologetic about the accidental plagiarism, I noticed that her credibility has been affected and her future works will be always be looked at with doubt and skepticism.

Reflecting on the past I have noticed, how quickly I have merely ‘copied and pasted’. I have rationalized saying, “this is exactly what I want to say” so why to reword it, simply ‘copy and paste’ and this will save my time and effort. Well, if that is the intent of saving time and effort, then what I have also learned is to take an extra minute or two to put it in “Quotes” and cite the author’s name. What about you? Are you guilty of plagiarizing too?

Examples of plagiarism are many, here are a few International examples, NDTV has compiled a few Indian cases and a story about 3 Academic Thefts by professors in Rajasthan.

iPleaders Blog Post on Plagiarism law gives us a glimpse of India’s views on plagiarism. This makes me wonder and reflect on our Indian Education System. In the local schools, I  have observed that students photocopy school notes and college notes, memorize them and then finally regurgitate the content in their exams, to get scores or marks that will make him/her eligible to one of the best colleges in India. Are we preparing our students for a ‘copy and paste’ world or do we want them to think, reflect and create?

I wonder how will this individual function in the real world? How will he/she respond ethically in the information world, where he/she has not learned to paraphrase and use his/her thinking faculties to express ideas or create something unique?

Here are simple six steps by Write Check to avoid plagiarism. BibMe recommends other ways. Some important ones I have learned are to:

  1. Use multiple sources of information to get a perspective and in-depth knowledge on the topic.
  2. Acknowledge one’s ideas, beliefs and thoughts that are gathered after much reading.
  3. Paraphrasing correctly and not merely replacing parts of a sentence with synonyms but also the syntax of the sentences.
  4. When quoting other peoples work, it’s important to give credit.
  5. Using a proper citing format according to the discipline.

Using a plagiarism checker can be very helpful when writing, it helps prevent accidental plagiarism.  Invest in one; it’s worth it!

Guided Reading Program- Raz Plus

By | Digital Resources, General, Internation Schools, Literacy, Reading and Writing, Reading Program, Writing Program | No Comments

Recently, I read in the local newspaper in Mumbai, that the latest key education trends to watch out for in 2019 are:

  1. The growth of integrated learning solutions: that is integrating technology with teaching content
  2. Adoption of formative assessment solutions: we know that the assessment of rote learning is not going to help our present generation of students
  3. Learning through regional languages: using bilingual mode of teaching and learning
  4. Increased demand for professional development for all educators: having a growth mindset and learning the craft of teaching and learning with new and updated teaching-learning strategies the and pedagogy.

Recently, I learned that many International schools are looking at adopting reading and writing programs and are moving away from the textbook. Some are adopting a dual program – text book + a reading program. This in my perspective, is a great opportunity for teachers to build on their craft of teaching English.

Learning A-Z is a great resource, well known in the International circuit and is used in over 140 countries, thus validating and supporting accreditation in schools. The research and awards received by the program, shows that the content is vetted both qualitatively and quantitatively  leveraging good reading and writing practices, thus moving away from ROTE LEARNING to develop DEEP LITERACY SKILLS  for critical thinking.

In my opinion, Learning A-Z  supports all of the above. It teaches teachers how to teach reading and writing involving skills and  strategies of the 21st century like analyzing character, analyzing plots, analyzing settings, understanding author’s purpose of entertainment, information, and persuasion, cause & effect, identifying points of view, making inferences and drawing conferences, problem solution, understanding different genres, sequence of events and more. All resources books are available in a blended format – both print and digital.

This program offers students direct and explicit instruction on key comprehension skills with the Comprehension Skill Packs. Each lesson plan follows the teaching, practice, and apply an instructional approach to support students as they build meaning from texts.  It includes guided reading books (leveled), worksheets, professional development lesson plans, visual devices, graphic organizers and all the necessary documents for teaching – thus saving lots of google search time.

A blended program that offers the students an opportunity to read at their reading level, complete a quiz on their device. The results of the quiz can help teachers identify areas of teaching and support student learning.

The Writing A-Z  delivers online writing lessons, resources, and tools to meet the needs of every student, at every learning level for Elementary and Middle School Years.

  • Lessons and resources to teach writing
  • Interactive online writing tools for students
  • Online reporting to track progress and growth

You can get your free trial here for 14 days and also download their samples and check them out. I am sure this program will benefit your students and enhance your teaching practice.

Genrefication – What and Why?

By | Collection Development, General | No Comments

This term genrefication was created in the Urban Dictionary in 2008 and is defined as an exercise of classifying books, magazines, films into specific genres or categories. Genrefication of the collection started with an intent to help users locate the resources speedily. This genrefication first started in bookstores and music stores, the owners classified music according to the genre, for example, all the romantic songs were categorized under Romance,  rock music was categorized as – Hard Metal, Rock and Roll and others. The same genrefication process found its’ way in bookstores, all mysteries were clubbed together, while mythology and religious texts were classified in one area and so were self-help books, making it easier for every reader. This helped customers locate what they were looking for efficiently and speedily.

Looking at the successes with bookstores and music stores, librarians decided to break a few conventions of the traditional Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC)  rules to accommodate and popularize the libraries. Schools and college libraries now started categorising fiction and nonfiction books to meet the needs of the school.

In my school, in the Elementary Section, we separated the picture books, series of fiction, comic or graphic novels, mysteries, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction from the formal DDC that we had followed in the past. In the Secondary Section of our school, we classified the fiction into various genres ranging it from realistic fiction, sports fiction, historical fiction, mystery, supernatural, science fiction, fantasy, biographies, adult Indian Fiction. We divided our collection into a few genres and not all. We continued to also maintain the Dewey Decimal Classification for the nonfiction books.

Genres Examples – CC

By doing this we noticed that students were able to get to the titles quickly, they had more time to browse the blurbs of the stories and were able to quickly identify the books in the series.

Yes, it was a big task, rearranging the books, it was a big project that we librarians had undertaken and took a couple of months. But it helped students access the books that are purchased for their learning. Teachers too found it easier to locate the resources for teaching and supporting student learning. Susanne has very well defined and discussed the pros and cons on her website.

According to my experience, I noticed:

  1. Children were becoming more independent and could locate similar-books of their interests
  2. Children were comfortably recommending and taking ownership of the library as their space
  3. Circulation of books increased
  4. Students could easily identify genres and eager to try new genres
  5. The library looked different and better
  6. Book talks became more natural and fun to share with children.
  7. A friendly and comfortable environment for students to access books

Should you want to genrefy your collection and want to discuss, you are welcome to email me.

Peek a Book Reflections – 2018

By | General | No Comments

Peekabook a literary festival held in Mumbai this year! What an inspiring celebration! Being held at the Royal Opera House was such a great idea – Kudos to Peek a Book and Lubaina Bandukwala who curated this event with her team.

It’s hard to attend all literary events held in India, however, being a Mumbaikar, I had to attend it – couldn’t give it a miss. The day started with a celebration of the Children’s Choice Award, followed by music performances and lots of engagement opportunities with the creative tribe who shared their craft through stories, theatre, art and storytelling. I wish I could replicate myself and go to all the sessions that ranged from Touch art – a blindfold art session by Siddhant Shah, story sessions by Natasha Sharma, Lavanya Karthik, Neha Singh, Prashant Pinge, Tara Sharma, Little Fingers tales by Priyanka Babbar and Lal Pari who introduced her little fairy , storytelling workshop by Zarine Menon and Usha Venkataraman, folk performance by Dhanendra Kawade, solving mysteries with Gynelle Alvesa and Sharon Fernandes. Truly a celebration of great work by all the artists and writers!

The literary festival could not be complete without the opportunity for the attendees to inspire our world of ideas, thoughts and connect with stories so that we can all anchor and belong to a tribe.

Story Kits, Story Boards and Little Travel Diaries

Sangeeta from Kahani Tree displayed a varied collection of picture books and novels for all readers, Story Merchants had a colourful Story Boards titled -Forestland,

Author and Story Teller

Storyville City life story mat, and Forestland Puzzle (Ideal for Early Childhood and Elementary School Libraries) and then there were Life Skills Orientation Kits and Little Travel Diaries, picture book travel guides for children with a travel diary a child can take along on his travels by adding pictures, notes and trivia. There were others but these were my favourite.

Reading Aloud 3 -Visualization

By | General, Readaloud, Reading and Writing, Visualization | No Comments

How to connect with children so that their learning is deep and impactful?  Developing love for reading is the essential ingredient for success. Especially in this age and time, you can teach yourself any skill or any new knowledge. As educators, we know that reading aloud is critical but what and how do we read-aloud?

Using visualization as a reading strategy is essential. According to Reading Rockets: Good readers construct mental images as they read a text.

What is Visualization: It is a reading comprehension strategy. It allows the reader to imagine and have a picture in their mind. Visualisation helps the reader understand what the character in the story is doing, thinking or feeling and it helps you visualize the detailed description of the setting.

How do you ask children to visualise?  You prompt them with these cues: Visualization Cues you can use are: I see …… on the page… It makes me think that…; I imagine ….. I know this because …; I wonder…, I visualise…. because I see …… (You can create an anchor chart with these prompts)

Visualization helps transform students from passive to active readers, improving their reading comprehension while connecting their mental images with their prior knowledge making learning deep.

Why is visualisation important? Visualisation helps students and adults become:

  • Analytical readers and thinkers
  • Better communicators
  • Scriptwriters
  • Prepares them for the media business
  • Marketing business
  • Strategic Analysis business opportunities

Visualisation techniques have helped many successful people achieve their dreams because they have been able to practise their goals, achievements and outcomes through systematic visualisation and confidence.

Building imagery can be visual, it appeals to the sense of sight and plays the most significant role in the description in literature.

Auditory visualisation and imagery describe specific sounds that are happening within the story and can connect with one’s own experiences.

Olfactory imagery: Can describes a particular scent and lead to impactful learning especially when the reader connects the text with their personal experiences. Visualisation leads to better writers.

Some titles you can use to practice and visualize with your students are:

A Walk with Thambi by Lavanya Karthik

Mala’s Silver Anklets by Annie Besant

Rooster Raga by Natasha Sharma

Raz Plus: has over 5,000 eBooks and printed books to help you teach all forms of reading strategies that build successful readers.

The Queen Ant’s Birthday by Alleysey Sweeney

Owen and the Tortoise by Katie Knight

Pond Life by Susan Hartley

Imagine the Beach by Racheal Rice

Fishing in the Rain by David Cockcroft

And more…

Habit of Giving Credit – Citation

By | Fair Use, General, Information Literacy, Librarian's Role | No Comments

Giving credit to others contribution is important. And why is it important? Many businesses tycoons of successful projects know that success comes when it is built on other people’s ideas or ones own with others help. These leaders give credit to all those who have been a part of the endeavour.  Giving credit where credit is due is a very rewarding habit to form. Its rewards are inestimable –  Loretta Young, an American Actress.

Acknowledging and giving credit is one of the key aspects of any project or research. We all need to know, learn and practice giving credit when we create our presentations and work. As librarians, we are constantly reminding our students to cite their sources. When we give credit to the resources we use for teaching, we are not only modelling it for our students but also valuing other peoples work. This only establishes our credibility and reinforces what Google Scholar’s Mantra states: Standing on the shoulders of giants.

Learning and giving credit to all our images, using copyright free images or sharing ideas from others in our own creative way is a part of the Creative Commons and understanding the licenses are a part of being Information Coaches/Librarians. The IBO office recently released – An Ideal Libraries/Librarians putting a huge emphasis on the ethical use of information, protecting the environment and being respectful of all races, religions, and sects. Using any form of citation, be it MLA, Chicago or APA style, it is important to teach students to recognize others work. And, not copy and paste – which is outright plagiarism. Students need to paraphrase, add their own perspective and cite their sources of information. This practice will help all become critical thinkers and ethical users of information, and one must know that simply copying and pasting information out from the internet is not learning. Let’s model, practice and support the ethical use of information.