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.

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.

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.

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…

Reading Aloud Stories with Purpose -1

By | Librarian's Role, PYP Profiles, Readaloud, Reading and Writing, School Libraries | One Comment

The education landscape is changing and so is reading aloud stories to children. I remember reading Night Monster by Sushree Mishra, illustrated by Sanket Pethkar; Published by Karadi Tales, 2015. It is a story about feeling scared and overcoming the fear of the night which is the general outcome of the story (comprehension) but as a librarian, it’s important to look at other aspects of a picture book. 1. You can nudge students to look at other forms of expressions like notes, and letters to convey meaning. 2. At an international school, you can use the learner attitude of empathy. 3. You can explain the ATL skills of Communication or Thinking; creatively and problem-solving strategies used by the sister to help her little brother. Asking students, what are the different ways they have problem-solved in their lives using different approaches. 4. Describe Jarul Book Award and how this award empowers children to make an impact and that students have a voice in deciding the winner of the prize. 5. You could also analyze the style of drawing, asking why the illustrator might have chosen to use shades of blue and black; ask what medium has he used to draw his picture, how long must he have taken, and why did he choose different sizes of his objects while relating the story? Sanket Pethkar is a full-time illustrator and as a teacher-librarian, you can discuss his passion for art and how this could be a profession for some. It’s time to go beyond simply the understanding or comprehension of the story.

Another story I read aloud was the Cycle’s Dream by Prabhat(Author), Vidyut Roy (Illustrator) by Elavya (2013). This story was read to many age groups, the teacher nudged the children to think about the environment, the impact of oil on the world, the futuristic world and how it would look. This was followed by an engagement, where students were prompted to create a world in the future, they could either draw or write about their future world. It could be a fantasy or a futuristic science fiction. Again, a teaching moment for a teacher-librarian, when children could learn about different genres and how fantasy differs from science fiction.

Some of the students wanted to discuss the publication of this book and how it was made, students researched and wondered how long it took for the publisher to make this book since it was created in a special format made from recycled paper. Many publishers are willing and often respond to student questions should they intend to pursue their inquiry.

It’s so important to go beyond the comprehension level of the story. We all agree that children do understand stories, our job as teacher librarians are to look at picture books with a different lens and nudge them to think creatively and critically.

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.

What is the Jarul Book Award?

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

Jarul Book Award: Indian Picture Book

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

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

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

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

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