Saturday, August 29, 2015

PPT: Designing an Information Literacy Skills Porgram for the New K-12 Curriculum

Friday, August 28, 2015

TV Guesting: Iba Ang Pinoy at Good Morning Kuya, UNTV

Where I talked about storytelling, Tales From the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Stories and the picture books I wrote and published by Lampara Books. I also did a short storytelling demo. On August 30, 2015, I will be elaborating on the use of storytelling and reading aloud for early literacy learning. This workshop is in line with the Philippine Literary Festival 2015 at the Raffles, Makati.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Illustrator Interview: Kora Dandan Albano

With Ms. Gidget Roceles Jimenez
Kora Dandan Albano shares with us her joy in working with Gidget Roceles Jimenez in their book, All About the Philippines (Tuttle, 2015). She has some tips for budding artists on the use of watercolor as medium for art. Read on and you might just learn a thing or two about watercolor painting!

I love your spreads for the book, especially the ones on the end pages. Why Banawe and Pahiyas?
 
Sagada and Pahiyas spreads were actually inside illustrations for the Travelling Together and Fiesta sections. But he editors decided to use them as end papers for the book.

Your control of color and water is amazing! How do you do it? Any tips for aspiring illustrators and artists who are using this medium?
 
Watercolor is an unforgiving medium. So careful planning is important. Hindi pwede yung attack ka lang ng attack. Calculated lahat - from the amount of water that you mix into the paint to the degree of dampness of a pre-wetted paper -  lahat iniisip at pinaplano muna. Sa una parang ang hirap, pero if you’ve been using the medium for over 25 years like me, it becomes second skin,  instinctive na.

For me, there is no substitute for a good  drawing, so I always draw my pencil sketches on plain paper first, adjusting and revising until I’m happy with them. Then I trace them on quality watercolor paper using a light box - this is to avoid damaging the paper with too much erasures. Arches and Canson Montval watercolor papers are my favorites. I always paint from light to dark. Highlights are leave outs – kung ano yung kulay ng papel, iyon ang whites or highlights sa illustration. I don’t use white paint as much as possible.  I build up my images one layer at a time. Like in the Sagada spread, I painted the first layer of clouds first, then while letting that area dry, I tackled the first layer of the greens of the rice terraces next, and so on and so forth until the entire paper is covered with first layer of paint. Then I work on the next layer, starting at the parts that are already dry.  I move my drawing board a lot while painting. I even paint some parts upside down sometimes. Normally it takes about four to five layers of paint to finish an illustration.

More tips: 

> Always clean your mixing plates to avoid muddy mixture of paints. Huwag manghinayang sa paint. 

> Always use fresh water for washing and dipping your brushes. Replace the water when using a different hue. Like, if you are painting a part that is yellow and your water is already blue, you will end up painting it green if you don’t replace your water with a clean one.

> Sketch pad papers are not watercolor papers. Don’t use them.

> Invest on good quality watercolor paints. I use Winsor and Newton, and Holbein paints.

> If you want to be good in watercolor, paint in watercolor most days of the weeks, at least 2 hours at a time.


At the book launch or All About the Philippines

Describe the experience of working with Gidget and Tuttle.

We were a good team! Just like with most of my children’s book projects, I only worked closely with the editor/coordinator of this book. I really appreciate it that Terri, the editor from Tuttle in the U.S.,  involved me from the planning stage of the book up to the edits. For this project, Terri and I exchanged about 250 emails between us and each one I got from her is a “feel good” email. Her reactions to my submissions were always -  Awesome! Fantastic! Wonderful!

Though, Gidget and I knew each other, we never met to discuss the project. It is only during the edits that the three of us worked together via email, proofreading and making sure everything is in place. But it was good to know afterwards that Gidget really loved what I have done with our book. Looks like, even if we didn’t discuss a single illustration while I’m doing them, our vision for the book were practically the same.


What is your dream book?

I want to write and illustrate a book about my childhood in Bulacan.

Photo source: Grabbed from FB with permission from Ms. Albano and A-gel Ramboyong.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Review: Amazing Me

Amazing Me (Firetree Press, 2015) is written and illustrated by Nica A. Hechanova. The book is about basic yoga poses that kids can easily do. The concepts and skills that go along with learning the yoga poses are embedded in poetry. The illustrations are simple, the lines are fluid and the colors are warm and vibrant. Purple, mauve, orange, brown, blue and green - my favorite colors! The book is hardbound and its pages are stitched together for a sturdy finish. I love the tree silhouettes on selected pages. These look easy on eyes and convey a relaxing feel to the entire design of the book.

Readers will find synergy in the poems, the illustrations and the yoga poses. The poem, along with its illustrations of young people in yoga poses that mimic the elements of nature leaves you with a message that you and I are one with the world. This is the strength of the book since Ms. Hechanova is all three: poet, yoga instructor and arts and crafts teacher. She is writing from what she knows and on subjects that she feels strongly about.

I felt how special the book was made for its intended audience.

For a more detailed instructions on the different poses, there's a how-to-do-it section at the later part of the book. Though the yoga poses are for kids, I tried doing it myself and I felt I did quite well! So, I suppose I am ready for the next level?

Adult yoga, here I come!

For more information on the book and how you can get a copy, visit the Amazing Me website

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Author Interview: Gidget Roceles Jimenez

Ms. Jimenez at the launch of All About the Philippines
Gidget Roceles Jimenez, author of All About the Philippines answers these questions for this blog's author interview feature. All About the Philippines was launched in National Bookstore last August 15, 2015. Ms. Jimenez writes poetry and non-fiction books for children. Her book, Can We Live on Mars? (Adarna House, 2009) won the National Children's Book Award Best Reads of 2010. 

How long did it take you to write All About the Philippines?

Tuttle Publishing contacted me at the start of 2011 about the possibility of writing this book. After a long process of deciding what we would include in the book, it took me about a year to research and write the book.

What was the most challenging part of writing the book?

I think the most challenging part of writing the book was trying to decide what were the most important aspects of presenting authentic Filipino children growing up in such different parts of the Philippines. I was very thankful to have the input of the very knowledgeable team of Charlotte and Kiko Benitez to make sure that my information was accurate and relevant.

Author and illustrator together: Gidget Roceles Jimenez and Kora Dandan Albano

Describe the experience of working with Kora and Tuttle.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with Tuttle. My editor Terri Jadick from the  Tuttle Office in Vermont was a joy to work with. Though I had limited interaction with Kora while I was writing the text, it was wonderful to see how beautifully she complemented what I had written.

What is the book you wish you had written?

I honestly cannot say that there is a book I wish I had written because I love my favorite books exactly as they have been written. Among my favorites are those by Douglas Wood and Jon J Muth whose picture books have life lessons for all ages.

Photo source: These two photos are from Ms. Jimenez. Permission to post was granted by her.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Required Reading and Research in the High School Library

For the past three years, I have been requiring our high school students to borrow books from the library. Each grade level has a minimum book quota: grade 9 = 20 books; grade 10 = 30 books; grade 11 = 40 books; and grade 12 = 50 books. This means, a student who belongs to his or her grade level will have to borrow the corresponding number of books.

Through this activity, I discovered that 15-20% of the student population are readers. They are the ones who need no prodding or fancy freebies to go to the library and borrow books. The rest comprises reluctant readers and non-book readers. While it is easy to reach the book readers, I still continue the book quota project but with a strategy to help them choose reading materials. That is why this year, during orientation, I launched the Reading Passport with the hope that students are guided in their reading choices. Students favor fiction books but there the non-fiction books to read for a purpose too.

Another strategy that can be done so that reading, books and the library can be meaningful to high school students is the implementation of a library instruction program, a research education program or, an information literacy program. That, my friends is for another post.

For the meantime, allow me to share another reading-library activity that allowed me to collaborate with teachers. This time, I was in cohort with the grade 9 Design teacher. She requested me to do a Library Talk on research where in the basic library research tools are introduced. Since this was my first formal session with the grade 9s, I introduced research as a way to find answers to questions and that, it is understanding the question and the way we find the answers that makes for a successful research. I then segued to the library's OPAC and online subscriptions. View my presentation in this Library Talk link.

From here, I will move on to a grade level activity, our annual Library Scavenger Hunt where the grade 9s will use their skill in locating information using the library OPAC and online subscriptions. Yep. I am one busy library bee!

Filipino Librarians: The Librarians Association of Quezon Province

Current Officers of LAQUEP
My brief stay in Lucena last June afforded me a chance to do a round table discussion on school library development with the Librarians Association of Quezon Province (LAQUEP). They are old friends. I have had the pleasure of working with them in seminars and workshops and while I was their invited resource speaker, I learned a lot from them. This group of Filipino Librarians are making progress in their hometown province of Quezon.

By conducting continuing professional growth activities in the province, LAQUEP is providing mechanisms for mentoring among librarians and non-librarians working in libraries. Their book activities foster social and community development as well. Recently, LAQUEP organized a fitness activity which they called, Zumbook, a coined word of Zumba and book. By donating a book, one can join the Zumba dance fitness activity. The donated books go to the recipient library of their choice.

LAQUEP's roster of officers came from different library sectors namely, school, public, government-provincial, academic and research, and private-special libraries. This month of August, as we remember Manuel Quezon and celebrate the language we are most at home with, the blog features LAQUEP and their vision of a library development in Quezon Province.

The Birth of Quezon Librarians Association

Motivated by the Cavite Librarians Association (CLASS) Ismaelinda “Smile” Cabana and Rosario “Rose” Villamater had stirred interest to organize the Association of Librarians in Quezon Province. The Association was created before the PLAI-STRLC Regional Conference and General Assembly to provide provincial representation on September 8, 2006. Invitations were distributed to all types of library, private and government alike.

To encourage librarians and unregistered librarians to attend the creation of its officers, a forum was set and the theme “Librarians and their Accountabilities” was conducted. The forum aimed to enlighten some issues on accountabilities of librarians.

During the morning session, two speakers presented their papers on “Accountabilities of Librarians” Mrs. Teresita DJ. Magbag, Director of Enverga University Libraries for Academic and Mrs. Ismaelinda S. Cabana, Quezon Provincial Librarian for Public Libraries.

 Fifty seven (57) participants from different libraries of Quezon Province attended the forum. Out of the 57 participants, fifteen (15) were registered librarians. After the forum, Quezon Librarians Association (QLA) was born. Proposed By-Laws was ratified and officers were elected. Executive
Officers were as follows:

    President    :    Teresita DJ. Magbag
    Vice-President:    Eulalia G. Zapata
    Secretary    :    Ivy Rose Y. Atienza
    Treasurer    :    Miled G. Ibias
    Auditor    :    Manuelita R. Veranga
    PRO        :    Jenalyn A. Pancho
    Council of Elders:
                Aurora A. Navela
                Fhraned B. Edad

Committee Chairmen were also elected. Chairmen were requested to choose their members. Here are as follows:

Conference Committee                            Publication Committee
Chairman:    Marietta Z. Enverga            Chairman:    Myrna P. Macapia
Members:    Marites R. Lazona                Members:    Panfilo C. Talisic
                    Nelda Z. Layugan                                     Rowena V. Alvano
  
 Membership Committee                        Emerita G. Lucio
 Chairman:    Aprilyn M. Rodil              Trinidad A. Imperial
   
Members:    Marites R. Lazona        NOMELEC
            Erlita Villamiel                        Carolina B. EngaƱa
            Cynthia F. Anday                    Rowena Alvano

Ways & Means C0mmittee
Chairman:         Isabel Noreen R. Rairata
Members:        Bernie M. Castillo and Jocelyn Gabriel

LAQUEP and the Future

We see LAQueP-LInc in five years as an organization which had helped municipalities and barangays build their libraries. The organization is targeting 10 municipal/barangay libraries in five years. Also, in five years, the organization is looking forward for most of the libraries to have librarians with Master’s degree.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: Mang Andoy's Signs

I learned about the new book that Ms. Mailin Paterno was working on back in 2013. Apart from this "chismis", I also heard that the book was under the production line of Tahanan Books For Young Readers. The chosen illustrator for the project happened to be Ms. Pepper Roxas whose collaborative work with May Tobias Papa and Adarna House, Araw sa Palengke, won them the 1st National Children's Book Award Best Reads of 2010. You put Ms. Paterno and Ms. Roxas together and Tahanan's reliable people then you have Mang Andoy's Signs, a quiet book that wonderfully speaks to us of the different ways to creatively and responsibly use language.

With my writer friend, Dr. Luis Gatmaitan, and the author of Mang Andoy's Signs, Ms. Mailin Paterno
The good news that Ms. Paterno is back with a published book for children is reason enough to celebrate. We missed her in the industry: her prose, poetry and voice.

Here are a few lines from the book. Read them aloud.
... a quiet man who made signs...
... a tiny workshop in the middle of a crowded noisy street...
Beautiful contradictions!

Ms. Roxas' illustrations complement Ms. Paterno's prose. The images I conjured is enriched through her collages. There is so much to see and to take in in every page. A feast for the eyes! That part of the book where Mang Andoy puts up the signs is an invitation to play with the author and the illustrator. Ms. Roxas provided an environment where members of the community are seen reacting to this attempt of creating order in chaos. Ms. Paterno further challenges the reader to interact not only with the written word, but the spaces in between them. There is something hidden  there. The silence in these spaces made me wonder. And then, there is that arrival at an AHA moment. Oh, what fun!

The reader has to be perceptive to discover this. The clue is to listen to the child's fearless question. There lies the magic of Mang Andoy's Signs.

Written in English, the book is deftly translated in Filipino by Mr. Eugene Evasco. He stays true to form that his Tagalog stands at par with the poetic prose of Ms. Paterno's. I am recommending this book to readers of all ages. A good read this month of August. This month when we celebrate Buwan ng Wika, let us reflect on the purpose of our use of language and the unspoken ones that lie in between. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Review: All About the Philippines

Here comes a new book about the Philippines! All About the Philippines: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids is written by Gidget Roceles Jimenez and illustrated by Corazon Dandan Albano. It is part of Tuttle Publishing's All About Series where countries like Korea, Japan, Indonesia and China are included too.

The book is visually appealing. Ms. Albano's illustrations, done in watercolor, is clean and cool to the eyes.  It is sturdy and smelled like gum and vanilla. The layout of every spread is uncluttered. There is balance in the use of space for the text and the illustrations to complement each other. The book's size is ideal for little hands to hold, to cradle and to lay down on one's lap. What truly amazed me was Ms. Albano's renditions of the Pinoy tourists in Banawe and the Pahiyas Festival on the flaps of the book. There is so much color and events going on in one spread denoting festivity and community. It is a book that I immediately warmed up to.

Ms. Jimenez is crafty in using the stories and experiences of Mary, Jaime and Ari, to represent the three biggest island groups in the Philippines and beading together the diverse qualities and characteristics of our archipelago. There is history, geography, language, songs, art and cultural norms and traditions that bespeak of the varied ways in which Filipinos live and love.

I am proud to recommend this book to every school library, local and off shore, to keep in their collection as valuable reference and source book for Filipino children and young people of the world who wish to know the Philippines. There is Google to turn to, but with a well produced book such as this, the internet can wait. Congratulations to Ms. Jimenez and Ms. Albano on this wonderful collaboration! And to Tuttle Publishing for staying true to its mission of bringing the East and West closer to each other.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Take on Ampalaya The Musical

With Augie Rivera and Kora Dandan Albano
This is a late post on my experience watching Ampalaya The Musical last July 15, 2015 at the CCP.  This production was made possible by the Siliman University Cultural Affairs Committee. I was with Nico and bosom friends in the local kidslit industry. We were lucky to get seats near the stage where the orchestra was. We saw, up close the maestro, Michael Dadap, and how he conducted the musicians and their music.  As much as I love watching musicals, I also enjoy watching conductors "perform". They seem to wield an invisible force that can only be heard through music.

The music and songs whisked me back in time of fiestas and fluvial parades seen and experienced as a child growing up in the Pateros-Fort Bonifacio area. As I listened to the playful songs the vegetables sang out loud, I tried recalling the songs I sang as a child. My mother and grandmother sang lullabies and Luya's soothing Tulog Na tugged at my heart's strings. I watched the musical as an adult yearning for childhood years gone by.

The dances and choreography were equally entertaining. Despite the costumes of the actors that I found cumbersome, the clothes seem to be made of light materials that provided ease of movement to the actors wearing them. And the actors! They can sing! They can dance! They can act! As easy as their movements and songs on stage was the fluidity of how they delivered their dialogues in English, Filipino and Bisaya. Triple threat, indeed!

Masaya na si Ampalaya
My only issue on the musical is the back story of Ampalaya. In the original legend, Ampalaya has no back story to begin with. Alamat ng Ampalaya is one of my favorite stories because it does not justify Ampalya's context or misdeeds. Ampalaya stole from his neighbors because he yearns for more. More knowldege, bueaty and virtue. This yearning is not wrong. I think it is natural for all of us to dream and to aspire for more. But what Ampalaya lacked was the capacity to discern. What the original story emphasized was the consequence of Ampalaya's actions and how justice was served. And the reader is left wondering if Ampalaya has regrets as the narrative implores us to forgive him of his selfish acts.

In general, I loved the musical and despite the back story that disturbed me, it was a fun and playful romp in the Bayan of Sariwa.

Library Talk: Research Basics

Sharing my PPT of the library talk on research for grade 9 students.
 

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!
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