Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Differentiation, Connections and First Day High

Reflection. Make it a lifestyle!
It was our first day back from summer in-service.

School has finally begun.

The kids are back and we're rolling! I was pretty pleased at myself yesterday having conducted four different activities during library orientation with our students. Yes, I had four presentations, one per grade level.

For grade 9 I did a Library 101 talk. I first read aloud a short excerpt from Shine (Gourlay, 2014) and stopped at the part where Rosa's yaya asked what would happen if she ever stopped wondering. From there, I told the 9s how the library plays a part in this wonderment and that libraries nurture in them a sense of wonder. With my staff, we distributed the library brochures, read the basic library rule on borrowing resources, distributed bookmarks that have usernames and passwords of our online databases, and told them about the Book Quota. More about this in the next post.

It was the same with the grade 10s, 11s and 12s. But, I started out with a school project that they will tackle this year. Projects that involve reading, research and an application of information literacy skills. For the 10s, I started with the Personal Project and showed my former supervisee's project. For the 11s and the 12s, I began with the Extended Essay and a perspective of what research is all about in the high school level. Always emphasizing that reading is a core skill in research writing, and that the library is a place to develop this.

Connection. The library is part and parcel of the learning community
In the words of my colleague, what I did during library orientation was differentiation. I realized that a 15 minute library orientation would be more meaningful if I immediately present the most important thing our high school students must know.  Each grade level has a specific need and context. Having planned the theme on research and information literacy, I used these as basic concepts to work around my presentations.

I was happy.

Using differentiation as a strategy and working around a concept to guide me in facilitating the library orientation are two things I learned from the Academy's regular professional development activities. My co-teachers have been working real well on conceptual teaching. Last summer they allotted a week to put together their course units in concepts. What followed was a week long unit plan writing that prompted us to look at connections. Knowledge and ideas cross disciplines. Skills permeate the content areas. To prove these points further, our Dean of Faculty presented Bill Gates' the Big History Project. Again, more on this in future posts.

How do I find myself in this exciting and changing dynamic of teaching and learning?

Learn. Reading aloud to high school students. It still works!
It is an opportunity to offer content through the library's varied resources and rich collection of fiction and non-fiction books. I see ways where I can assist and support teachers by engaging them in conversations that foster thinking and collaboration. In library parlance, this is called reference and readers services. I will look at the Information Literacy Skills program designed three years ago. Oh boy, it does need a lot of revision. It needs a new fitting to address a global framework. While services and existing library structures remain, it must be anchored on a paradigm and a mindset that promote connectivity, reflection and active learning.

Who ever said being a librarian is boring?

Storyteller Q and A for Museo Pambata's Paglaki Ko Exhibit

Sharing this set of Q and A for the Museo Pambata Paglaki Ko theme room exhibit. Not all of my answers may be included in the exhibit, so I better have it on the blog for records purposes.

Storytelling is risk taking.

Name 2 best experiences as a young child.

I loved taking naps and I played a lot.

What were your interests or inclinations when you were young?

I have developed an early love for books and reading. Mom worked in a school library then so I have my regular stash of books from her.

Who read stories to you as a child?

Mom did.

My maternal grandmother, Nanay Leony, told us cousins a lot of stories. From her growing up years during the Japanese occupation to ghost stories and folk lore, she would tell us these stories as a way to connect the past to the present; cautionary tales to teach us lessons we never really took seriously until a consequence of our actions proved her right; ghost stories and stories of the fantastic that made us wonder and imagine a world beyond our perceived realities. She also had an array of superstitious beliefs and knowledge of medicinal plants. She loved to cook. The amazing thing is, she embellished them with stories. When dishing out a superstitious belief or boiling guava leaves for our sick tummies, a story or two would roll along. Some were taken from her personal experience and a few came from her family history.

Nanay Leony owned a sar-sari store as well. It’s where I learned how to read komiks

When and how did you start as a storyteller?

I started telling stories when I was five or six years old. I babbled a story in English, The Fish and the Crocodile. The story goes that when my maternal grandfather, Lolo Berto, came home from overseas, he was in the Navy, he brought home a tape recorder. It was the newest gadget then. Using an audiotape, my three aunts pulled me aside and asked me to say something. So I did. I don’t remember what it was that I said but one of the older aunts, Ate Eli, asked if I can sing or say something longer. I suppose watching Sesame Street influenced me to tell a story. When my aunts finished recording my story, they were laughing. The entire family listened to my babble. It was incomprehensible but the whole thing was about a fish running away from a mean crocodile.

At Miriam Child Study Center c. 2014

How do you prepare for a storytelling session?

As a librarian I plan with teachers. There is a methodology involved in the planning so a lot of pedagogical practices come into play. As a storyteller, I outline my program. I ask the organizer the context of the session, the audience and place of storytelling.

Why do you tell stories? What are your reasons, advocacy and mission? Is it driven more by a need or a challenge? What motivates you?

In the library and in the classroom, storytelling is one strategy to develop early literacy skills. It introduces children to different ways of using language and firms up listening skills necessary for language acquisition. Reading aloud is powerful since the book is present in the encounter. It shows children how reading happens, how books are used and how a storyteller can be the conduit to the understanding another world constructed by the author, illustrator and book creators. Here we see a communion of minds and creative spirits. That is magic!

On a personal level, I need to tell stories to survive.

What are your favorite stories to tell?

Personal and family stories. I wish I could tell more folk tales. I want to be a folklorist.

With Maricel Montero a few years back. I donated a copy of Tales From the 7,000 Isles to the MP Library. It is in MP where my journey as a storyteller started.

What helps you during storytelling session? Do you have a ritual (things to do before, during and after) or process? What things do you need to help you? (tools of the trade, gadgets, things you need to tell a story)

I sing. I put songs in my telling because I know I can sing well enough to sustain the interest of an audience. I also use props and costumes but only when the story tells me to. Often, I take the story to lead me where I need to go in presenting it. Stories have their own power, their own life and force. I listen to the stories first before I do anything with it.  The story is the star. The teller is merely a medium to let it shine.

Who inspires you? Who do you look up to as a storyteller?

My kids. My audience, young and old. Everybody loves a good story. I look up to Dianne de Las Casas. She is awesome!

Why are storytellers important?

Imagine this world if it is too quiet. Someone has to live to tell the tale

Monday, August 3, 2015

Paglaki ko, gusto ko maging kwentista!

Museo Pambata has chosen me as one of the six storytellers to be included in the roster of artists and creatives who push for the development of literacy and children's rights. I am deeply honored.

I struggle to keep the self inflicted flattery down low. I pray to be blessed with the grace of smallness. I do want to be recognized for the hard work I put in as a teacher librarian, storyteller and author. And truly, I am happy. But I also need to keep in mind that this honor is not entirely my own doing. In many ways, I have the support of friends in the industry. I know that my parents were instrumental in building in me a positive work ethic. My children are my constant inspiration. My husband is my worst critic (and this is a good thing).

More than anything, this honor of being inducted as a role model for young people inspires me to do more. To never stop creating and looking for possibilities when the road that is ahead presents dead ends. To the Museo Pambata people, this early, I thank you for this honor. In this day and age, our work in providing young people with the chance to grow roots and wings is all the more challenging. May we draw strength from each other and inspire more young people to continue what we have started.

See you all next month in the launching of the new Ang Paglaki Ko room!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Conversion and Renewal

Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola. A saint of conversion, I look upon him to guide me through my own life journeys that are brimming with opportunities for growth and renewal. While this sounds hopeful, it is not struggle free. But there is grace. And  to witness this grace, which comes like a deluge, is enough to restore my faith in myself and in humanity.

I have been reflecting on my work as a school librarian in the Academy. The first two years was a breeze. I know what I need to do and I did it quite well. Evidence of this is the physical and technical structures that I was able to set in place for intellectual growth and personal development. The third year was amazing. Enough said.

On my fourth year, that's where the challenges rolled in. Looking back, I can now say it was something I asked for. And boy, did I get it. Those who dare and risk will never know what hit them. What is the best thing that came out of it? A realization of what I can do and can't; what needs to be done and what battles to pursue; knowing the friends whom I can trust and count on; and getting a better understanding of human nature.

Today, and on wards, I choose to be kind.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Message of Thanks

My heart is still full of joy from the success of the recently concluded NCBD Book Fair.

It was a success because the fair was well attended. It was a success because in three weeks time, PBBY, the Rizal Library people and librarian volunteers were able to put together and pull through a children's book fair that included seven book sellers and publishers, two groups of college students studying children's literature and young adult literature, one indie comic book publisher and a Filipino book club. If attendance and this coming together of reading advocates and book lovers is an indicator of success, there is the sales report to look at as another measure of it. More than the kaching-kaching of the  cash register though, it is good to remember the purpose of staging a children's book fair.

Here is my letter to the exhibitors a few days after the fair.

Dear friends,

Our NCBD Book Fair was a success! There were 576 visitors to the fair last Saturday. The booth activities you set up and conducted during the fair were all enjoyable. We in PBBY hope that you were able to know, or at least, got an idea about Filipino young readers of today - your audience. To see your authors, illustrators and storytellers interact with children, their parents guardians and teachers at the fair was a delight. Thank you for making the book and the reading experience come alive in the eyes and hearts of children and teens who visited the fair! Even the young at heart had fun!

As a librarian, I am happy to have done this activity with you in partnership with the Rizal Library librarians and librarian volunteers. Our job as librarians is to create mechanisms that will bring books closer to children and young adults. Your participation in the NCBD Book Fair helped this become a reality. I hope that your sales people were able to establish networks with school personnel, meet parents and NGOs working for the welfare of children and teens. May this experience of the book fair inspire you to create meaningful materials and resources in the coming years. 

We look forward to your produce! We will harvest your books and resources and make them accessible and available to young readers in our communities, as well as to the adults who care for them in one way or the other.

Maraming salamat!
          Zarah C. Gagatiga
          PBBY Board Member and Book Fair Director

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

NCBD Book Fair 2015 AVP

This AVP of the NCBD Book Fair was made by Miki Arispe, school librarian of Ateneo de Manila Grade School Department. This was used during the opening ceremony of the NCBD Book Fair at the Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University last July 25, 2015.

The slides used in the AVP were made collaboratively by Karryl Sagun and MJ Tumamac.

PPT: Creative Reading Programs and Activities for School Library Improvement

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bookwatch #2 and A Good Review

These wonderful news made my Monday!

The article I wrote for Bookwatch about the PBBY Salanga and Alcala Prizes can be read in Issue no. 2. Copies of Bookwatch are available at the National Book Development Board's office in Ortigas. Some copies will be distributed in the Philippine Children's Book Summit too. That's tomorrow!

So, if you are going to the Summit, get a copy for your library!

And then, My Daddy! My One and Only (illustrated by Jomike Tejido, Lampara Books) is featured in Smart Parenting as one of the seven books that encourage father and child bonding.

Oh, let this be a forecast of good things to come this week!

Monday, July 20, 2015

NCBD Blog Tour: My Wish List

    Hulyo 20 – 25: Wish List
    What book for Filipino children and young adults do you wish was published?
There are no restrictions on the number of answers, genre, etc, and can be by a writer, illustrator, or publisher.
I wish to see:

1. More graphic novels and comic books that are written for kids and young adults by Filipino writers, artists and publishers.

2. Books on LGBT; kids growing up from dysfunctional families and mixed marriages; children and teens from indigenous cultures; historical fiction for kids and teens that have strong women characters; memoirs and biographies.

3. More wordless picture books; board books and cloth books; pop-up books that show Philippine art, culture and history; interactive books that foster creativity, play and kinesthetic development.

4. Books with digital versions that do not stray away from the original print version but extend the reading experience.

5.  More books that will make children, teens and even the adults who read them laugh more and live more! Our books are too serious though we claim to be a happy people.

Umuulan ng Libro! The 32nd National Children’s Books Day will be celebrated through two events. The Philippine Children’s Book Summit on July 21 at Elements Centris, EDSA, and the Children’s Book Fair on July 25 at Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University.

The Librarian’s Workshop: Creative Reading Programs for School Libraries Servicing K-12 Learners will also be held on July 25.

For more information about any of the above events, please email pbby@adarna.com.ph or visit Philippine Board On Books For Young People Page on Facebook.

Back at the Academy: Setting the Pace and Taking Perspective

Day 2 of In-Service: Learner Profile and ATL allignment
I was not excited to go back to work last week. In previous years, I used to feel giddy and optimistic at the beginning of in-service week. Gone are the blooming flowers and rays of sunshine that nestled in my heart at the start of work coming from a long vacation. I found this odd and discomforting. In order for me to sync back, I must "feel" it. I didn't feel anything. In fact, I started Monday with a very practical and pragmatic outlook on the work that is ahead. This bothered me.

It was good to see my colleagues again but the game we played reminded me of past experiences and present needs. There is so much to think about that I could not channel into my emotions to help myself ease in and do the work that awaits me. First day back at work and I was already stressed.

By mid-day, all I wanted to do was go back to the library and finish the annual report. Then again, no one misses the Head of School's address on the first day of work so I stayed on with no choice at all but to listen.

That was when the complete turn around happened. You see, our Head of School has an uncanny talent of making you see things from a different perspective. He does not force or impose. He presents and shows possibilities, what ifs, where we are and where can things can go. He makes you think and wonder. This can be empowering, if you let it.

The things he shared were not promises resting on false hope. These were experiences culled out from the daily grind. It was inspiring. It was amazing how he does so with so much conviction through telling stories. So, there. The power of stories. It got me. Hook. Line. And sinker.
Day 4 of In-service: This is a course outline. Yes?!

I got my groove back but it didn't end there.

When the Dean of Faculty gave a session in the afternoon I was reminded of familiar things and memories of happier days with teachers and mentors you don't mess around with. Hermosa. Ocampo. LDR. Villanueva. Padilla.  My desire to go back to school and study once more surfaced.

What started as a lukewarm Monday ended with a hopeful perspective on the mission I am set to do and a direction to continuously grow professionally. Reflecting on the week that was, I can say that I am fortunate to belong to a community who continuously learns and mentors its faculty and staff.

NCBD 2015: The Philippine Children's Book Summit & The NCBD Book Fair

Umuulan ng Libro: PBBY Celebrates the 32nd National Children’s Book Day

The month of July is dedicated to the promotion and development of children's books. Every year on the third week of this month, National Children's Book Day is celebrated. It is also a day in which we commemorate the anniversary of the publication of Dr. Jose Rizal's "The Monkey and the Turtle" in Trubner's Oriental Record in London.
This year, the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) is having two events to celebrate the 32nd National Children's Book Day. On July 21, the National Book Development Board (NBDB) in partnership with PBBY is holding a literary summit called "Umuulan ng Libro: Philippine Children's Book Summit." On July 25, PBBY is holding a librarians' workshop called "Creative Reading Programs for School Libraries Servicing K-12 Learners" and a Children's Book Fair at the Rizal Library.

Philippine Children's Book Summit (July 21)

This whole-day summit will feature discussions on diverse topics such as Asian children's books, children's book illustration, best practices in copyright, children's librarianship, and Filipino comics. It will feature both local and international speakers.

Local authors and publishers who will be sharing their knowledge on children's content include M.J. Cagumbay Tumamac, author of Ngumiti si Andoy; poet and fictionist Kristian Cordero; Edgar Samar, author of the Janus Silang series; Blooey Singson, owner and writer of the blog Bookmarked!; Carljoe Javier, managing editor of Anino comics; and 2015 PBBY-Salanga Prize honorable mention winner, Cheeno Sayuno.

International speakers include the winner of the Illustrator's Award at the 2015 Sharjah Children's Reading Festival, Wen Dee Tan. Lili, one of Tan's picture books, won third place in the Macmillan Prize 2013, an annual picture book competition by Macmillan Children's Books UK. Joining Wen Dee Tan in the roster of international speakers is Mariko Nagai. Mariko is an Associate Professor of creative writing and Japanese literature at Temple University, Japan Campus in Tokyo, where she is also the Director of Research and Study Abroad Academic Coordinator. She has received the Pushcart Prizes both in poetry and fiction. Nagai's collection of poems, Histories of Bodies, won the Benjamin Saltman Prize from Red Hen Press, and her first collection of stories, Georgic: Stories won the 2009 G.S. Sharat Chandra Fiction Prize from BkMk Press.

The festival will be concluded by the awarding of the 2015 PBBY-Salanga Prize and 2015 PBBY-Alcala Prize.

The summit is open to authors, illustrators, publishers, educators, and librarians who are devoted in ensuring quality books for children. For inquiries about the summit, you may contact 352-6765 loc 204.

Librarians Workshop and Children's Book Fair (July 25)

This workshop to be run by PBBY member and librarian par excellance, Zarah Gagatiga, shall provide activities that will help librarians design and develop reading programs for students in the K-3; middle grades (4-8); junior high school (9-10); and senior high school (11-12) levels. Participants are encouraged to bring existing reading programs they implement in their school libraries. This will be followed by a presentation of recommended reads for kids and teens and a book discussion of favorite children's books.

A book fair, in cooperation with the Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University, will feature local children's book publishers. Aside from launching their new titles, publishers will also hold exciting games and activities for everyone.

For inquiries about the workshop and book fair, you may contact 0939 934 6521.

The NCBD Book Fair Program

Come to the NCBD Book Fair dressed in your favorite Filipino book character and get a special treat! Play the NCBD Book Fair Game and win in the raffle! Meet and author and illustrator! View exhibits! There are lots to do and we hope to see you at the Rizal Library on Saturday, July 25, 2015!

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