Book Talk for Young Adults

By Book Talk, General No Comments

Young adults are hooked on to stories written by the west. There is absolutely nothing wrong with them, and many of them are written eloquently or have plots that appeal to the youth. Sometimes, these books are made into movies adding richness to their conversations. Let’s seize this opportunity to talk to young students about Indian fiction. Tap into their curiosity by showing them trailers about the Indian books or connecting Indian fiction to their lives. Indian stories have plots that Indian children can relate to. Many genres available describe teenage life, or politics or wildlife. Here are a few you can use to tap into their interests.

Talking of Muskaan by Himanjali Sankar. Muskaan is in hospital, fighting for her life. Three classmates “her former best friend Aaliya, the hottie Prateek, and the class topper Subhojoy” talk about Muskaan, and themselves. About school, home and the larger world, the school bus and the basketball court; about secrets that become burdens. And through their stories, twists and turns are revealed that drove Muskaan to try to kill herself. Funny and tragic by turns, Talking of Muskaan is a warm, moving novel about life and death and the young people caught in between. Click here to take a peek at this book.  
Jobless Clueless Reckless by Revathi Suresh. A coming of age story about a young girl coping with a mother who has cut herself off from society, a father who has no time with a family and that leaves Kavya with her brother. How will she cope with board exams looming close? A short trailer to nudge your students into trying out this book of hope, and life from a different lens.
Zombiestanby Mainak Dhar Cover illustration by Kunal Kundu. Watch the TrailerIt began with undead Taliban in Afghan villages”. In a world laid waste by this new terror, five unlikely companions come together in a devastated New Delhi” a seventeen-year-old boy dealing with the loss of his family, a US Navy SEAL trying to get back home, a middle-aged history professor, a young girl and her three-year-old brother. When they discover that the child may hold the key to ending the pestilence that threatens to destroy their world. An epic journey against terrible adversaries, both human and undead. Will they survive? Or will they too, like many before them, become undead citizens of Zombiestan?
Through the Killing Glass by Mainak Dhar and Cover illustration by Kunal Kundu
Sequel to Alice in Deadland.  Trailer of Alice in Deadland. After defeating the Red Guards and brokering peace with the colony of Biters, Alice believes that finally there will be peace in Wonderland, the human colony she has carved out of the Deadland.
But soon Alice and her band of soldiers find themselves at odds with the people of Wonderland. There are signs that the Central Committee in China are developing a weapon, more terrible and fearful than anything Alice has ever encountered before. Can Alice unite the people of Wonderland?
Praise for Alice in Deadland: ‘Dhar manages to pack in a lot of action on every page, so you don’t breathe easy.’ – Mint; ‘A must-read for those who love to read fast-paced novels with powerful characters.’

Teaching Research Skills

By General, Media Literacy & Information Literacy, Professional Development, Research Skills No Comments

Research Image by Gifer under Fair Use Guidelines

Recently, a fellow librarian from a local Indian school asked me – How can librarians teach and support students research skills? How can librarians engage and collaborate with teachers?

I believe the local curriculum in Indian schools have always encouraged project work, and I believe that librarians can seize this opportunity to teach students how to research explicitly. They can collaborate with the subject teachers to teach research skills to the students in a systematic manner, encouraging higher order thinking. The open-ended questions will help students to think and write rather than copy and pasting information from Wikimedia or other websites. The question often asked of me is – what research model can I as a librarian use and recommend? There are several research models, and they can be found on the internet. One of them is the Super 3 for lower elementary students and the Big 6 for older students.

I would recommend one to look at various models and select the one the one that best suits your students. You can always tweak/adapt a research model to meet your needs. Each of the research steps needs to be explicitly taught and practiced through mini-lessons.

Here are the research steps that you may want to consider:

  1. Framing open-ended questions
  2. Locating information and selecting appropriate print and digital resources
  3. Evaluate the sources using CRAAP or CARS
  4. Using information by reading, taking notes and paraphrasing
  5. Synthesizing the information
  6. Citing the sources used in the research
  7. Presenting and sharing
  8. Finally, reflecting on knowledge and presentation

It is during inquiry or project time when librarians can help students develop the 21st-century skills of collaboration and teamwork, critical thinking, research skills and communication while learning through the transdisciplinary approach.  Should you be looking for handholding sessions to help you demystify this process, please email me, and we can work together.

GDPR & Librarians?

By General No Comments

GDPR by Descrier CC-BY 2.0

GDPR and Librarians – What do we need to know? According to Wikipedia: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation in the European Union, a law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA).

This law has created awareness and questioned the importance of protecting personal data. In India, many political parties create information/stories/ propaganda based on the personal information that we share on social media. We have seen the like of this with Cambridge Analytics controversy and questions about the Aadhar card. Political parties, advertisers, and organizations often use personal data, manipulate information to convey their message to the citizens.

Therefore, as librarians, we need to be aware and check the privacy policy of the online databases we use in our schools, colleges, and any institution. Recently our Technology Department recommended we check with our vendors to ensure that the personal data of the teachers, parents, and students are not being misused and shared with the third party for advertisements or for anything else.

In this article, the Indian government has recognized the importance of data protection and privacy and is working towards creating a stringent law to protect their citizens. As for the present laws they are not strict enough to ensure complete protection of personal digital information except for the ones controlled by the government.

So, when it comes down to us librarians  – What do we need to do? We need to visit the online databases that the educational institute subscribes to, scroll to the bottom of the website and read the privacy policy. If it does not make sense, please write to them and ask if they have a  privacy policy in place (in writing) and if they can assure you that the school data (information) is not being shared with any third party. If they cannot assure you that, you need to know that and disclose that information to your users. Otherwise, your Technology Department can help you work around the privacy policy for your institution.

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.

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.