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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.

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.

February 16th is World Read Aloud Day

By General No Comments

I think the World Read Aloud Day is a special day to remind us about the importance of reading and the joys of creating magic in our lives. Reading opens our hearts, widens our outlook, and gives us perspectives about different avenues of life. Reading helps us think about different cultures, different habits and helps us reflect on various experiences of life and helps individuals succeed in their profession.

The World Read Aloud Day is a day to remind us, how we as Librarians can spread the importance of reading in every walk of life. As a librarian, a woman and a mother, the best thing I can do is to share the joys of reading. We are so quick to share a facebook post, why not share a story, a book it with 5 different people.

Class Tech Tips shares 12 different apps for reading with our students.