Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Web Resources for Busy Teachers and (even busier) Parents

My husband and I take turns in tutoring and following up our eldest son, Nico, with school work. Since both of us are working, imagine how we draw upon our "powers" and energy to do this parenting responsibility. From his notes, worksheets, quizzes and progress reports, Nico, must be given drills. Lots of them!

Encoding these drills and activity sheets in Word document can still eat up a lot of precious time. So what I did was to Google them drills and worksheets. And I'm quite satisfied with the results. Allow me to share what I found in the Internet. These web sites of free Math drills and worksheets prove to be useful to the busy teacher as well. Most of these are in PDF so better have Acrobat in your PC before downloading.

Busy Teachers Cafe : WS Pages for Math This webpage is a link to its main website, Busy Teachers Cafe where other drills and worksheets on content areas like Reading, Language Arts, Social Studies (US context) and Art activities are found.

Donna Young's Math Drills Her drills are appropriate for K-2 levels. Check her homepage since she has other exercises and prcatice drills on other subjects too.

Here are some more. I haven't browsed through them, but these web sites will be my next resources for easy to print and produce drill sheets.

Math Drills

Math Exercise, Word Probles, Flashcards and Online drills (timed)

School Express

And here is Surf the Net for Kids that looks very comprehensive in terms of content. It even has a Book Club!

Sadly though, I did not encounter any Filipino Teacher made web site for such purposes. Filipinos are claiming a niche in cyber space in blogging, web design, literature and the allied arts. What about teaching and education?

Yan Ang Pinay: Bruhaha! Bruhihi!


Corazon Remigio's Bruhaha! Bruhihi! is a favorite read aloud piece among storytellers. This is attributed to the simple but action packed narrative. Her language is direct to the point and unmistakably child-like. Talk about "economy of words", she achieved what many a writer for children stuggle for.

In the story, the reader becomes a companion to the main character's psychological unfolding. A little girl suspects of having a witch for a neighbor. She conjured all the superstitious beliefs on witches that her experience afforded. From this schema, she believed that Mrs. Magalit is indeed a true blue witch until a humiliating incident shattered all perceived ideas of the old woman. She is after all, just an old woman - shriveled, lonely and alone. Thus, the little girl extended her compassion and friendship to Mrs. Magalit.

This quality of setting beliefs according to perceptions is very Filipino. Then again, Pinoys are never short of compassion and are overflowing with well springs of friendship. Such traits are possessed by this little girl in this beloved storybook that truly makes her a Filipina.

Recommended - Age 7 to 10

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Librarian Blogger Finalist!

Von Totanes started it all - blogging for Filipino librarians, that is. Unless I maybe wrong, go ahead and leave a comment or tag. But really, his blog Filipino Librarian (minus "the") inspired other Filipino librarians (like me) to blog about the profession. And it is wonderful to note that Von continues to improve his blog. What's more, his blog has become my "news source", my grapevine, my daily reading. That's why I'm delighted when I learned that Filipino Librarian is finalist in this year's Philippine Blog Awards under the Most Informative Blog Category.

Woot-woot! I want Von to win, of course. Making it to the finals says it all. You've raised the image of librarians several notches up the bar. Mabuhay and More Power!

Role of Librarian in Information Literacy

It is challenging, if not exciting, to be a librarian these days. We cannot afford to let this evolving landscape pass us by. Our professional expertise is needed all the more to enrich this landscape. We have a contribution to make in the development of this landscape. It is about time that we make a loud noise for its advocacy and the role we play in its implementation.

My lecture for today’s forum will focus on three things; 1) borderless society; 2) Information Literacy and 3) the role of librarians. The ideas I will be presenting may not be new or fresh, some of it may seem to be radical and too idealistic. But whatever these ideas are worth, I hope that it would inspire you to reflect, or possibly move you into action to make a difference in your own little way. It doesn’t have to be enormous or magnified a hundred fold. The important thing is, you, me, us, we are doing whatever we can to touch lives and affect change.

I. The Lay of the Land - A Borderless Society

What exactly is the borderless society? By the word border, we mean limits, demarcation lines and boundaries. The suffix “less” breaks the boundary, crosses the demarcation lines and allows limits to be extended. For a society to have no limits, no boundaries and no demarcation lines can be frightening. For a country like ours, whose educational history reflects that of subjugation, we value limits, borders, boxes and demarcations.

Advances in technology fuel a borderless society. We did not immediately jump into the bandwagon of the techies. It took us some time before we embraced technology. We wrestled with technology, only to find out that we are fighting our own demons. The technology that moves a borderless society is merely a gadget that can be manipulated. What matters is the mind set or the philosophy to which we apply in using the tools.

A lot has changed and continuously so. The concept of a borderless society we so feared in the late 80’s and the early 90’s is already upon us. It is known by many names; age of ICT; electronic era; global community and information society. The tricky part is, it does not have clear definitions, only signs and elements. It does affect our lives, our modes of communication and our thought processes. There are three characteristics that constitute a borderless society or an information society. These are information and knowledge; proliferation of ICT’s and access to and use of ICT’s (Singh, 2003).

The presence of these characteristics permeates all aspects of society and human activity. It has an effect in teaching, in learning and in the way information is created and communicated.

More and more teachers are exploring ways to improve instruction using ICT’s. Learners today are very much different from the ones we had ten years ago. They are more visual, more interactive and are able to tap different modalities for learning. The basic skills of reading, writing and mathematical reasoning remain paramount as foundations for learning. However, different kinds of literacy are inevitably emerging in this borderless society. Computer literacy, technology literacy, family literacy, cultural literacy, media literacy are examples. Information is present in all these. Somehow, the ability to read, write and compute is not enough to be able to understand and appreciate them.

In an information/borderless society, the need to handle and use information and the acquisition of these competencies is intertwined with another kind of literacy – INFORMATION LITERACY (Duesch, et all)

II. Information Literacy

Information literacy is the ability to access, evaluate, organize and use information from a variety of sources. The American Library Association (ALA) specifically defines Information Literacy as a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) provides a conceptual framework and guidelines for describing the information literate student. It has three categories with nine indicators. The three categories are a) Information Literacy Standards; b) Independent Learning Standard and c) Social Responsibility Standards. Below are the nine indicators:

The learner who is information literate
a. accesses information efficiently and effectively
b. evaluates information critically and competently
c. uses information accurately and creatively
d. appreciates literature and other creative expression of information
e. strives for excellence in information seeking and knowledge generation
f. pursues information related to personal interests
g. contributes positively to the learning community and to society and thus recognizes the importance of information to a democratic society
h. practices ethical behavior in regard to information and information technology
i. participates effectively in groups to pursue and generate information

If you take a closer look at these indicators, you may simply say that it is but a set of research skills or higher order thinking skills. But Information Literacy is also a philosophy or a way of thinking. It goes beyond the confines of the classroom. It is best applied when it is integrated with other literacy and content area.

III. Role of Librarians

By going back to the indicators, you must have observed that these are the core skills required of librarians as well. It is what we do. We have in our libraries information and ideas. We evaluate our collection and we organize it. We write abstracts, make indexes – this is a way of analyzing and synthesizing information. Finding, locating and gathering information is a basic readers and reference services. We campaign for the ethical use of information. We are involved in networking and resource sharing. We are models of Information Literacy. We are living testimonies of Information Literacy and how it works. Therefore, we have a role in advocating and fostering Information Literacy. In this case, we are information specialist who are called upon more frequently to consult with teachers and learners, and to provide training and guidance toward the sharpening of information literacy skills not only in school and academic libraries but in public and special libraries as well (Deusch, et all).

Christophers (2004) identifies four roles that librarians play in Information Literacy.

a. Teacher and Consultant– one who designs instruction; one who collaborate with teachers in the planning and implementation of lessons; one who has a grasp of the curriculum able to match and fill the needs of clients.
b. Instructional Technologists – a provider of different technology for teaching and learning processes as well as resources of varied formats.
c. Manager of computing services – a creator of databases and knowledge resources.
d. Manager of learning resources collection – content managers of information systems that facilitate the efficient and effective storage, retrieval, use and communication of learning resources and instructional media

Since our roles change, our libraries also do. Libraries are no longer repositories of materials but activity centers. It is an extension of the classroom and a laboratory for life long learning. Now let us reflect. Are we prepared to face these roles? Do we adhere or agree to the philosophy and skills that Information Literacy present? How are these possible in our own context and culture?

In a borderless society, an information literate person is more likely to succeed. The information literate person may have gone to a good school and it is possible that he develop skills for life long learning. The librarian is part of the process by which he acquires and applies these skills.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Book and Library Month (2 of 3) : The Reading Culture

November 26 came to pass. The general assembly of PNULISAA was a succesful one, likewise, the forum that followed it. PNULISAA was fortunate to have Dr. Diljit Singh, from the University of Malaya to speak about Reading in the Age of Technology.

In his talk, Dr. Singh identified indicators to a reading culture. These are; book production, book distribution, book reviews, book preservation and book translations. Given these signs, I can say that the Philippines continues to strive for a reading culture to develop in its people - young and old alike.

I do get informed of book launchings here and there. Almost every month, I get to be invited to at least one book launching. This is a good sign as far as book production is concerned. Add to this are the numerous book awards we have in our country whose winners are highlighted every year. I just do not know the numbers, but it is interesting to find out how well book publishing and the annual sales are doing these days. Ani Almario of Adarna House claims that children's story books are at a steady growth. What of other publications?

I'm not aware of translations, but as far as book reviews go, there are entities who do. There is the Book Talk Society of the Philippines who, as an organization campaigns for reading and recognizes writers from different fields of discipline; SCBWI conducts a monthly review and book talk; PBBY's Neni SR Cruz is a book reviewer who gets published all over; then there are bloggers in abundance who do book reviews.

Now we're left with book distribution and preservation. Public libraries in Manila may be wanting, but the efforts of the librarians who run them are not. I met a couple of them during the course of the Book Month celebration. Their projects and the programs they run are worthy of dissemination. Last Saturday, a few good librarians shared their reading campaign projects in their schools. Sadly, they were all private school librarians.

The reading culture is alive in this country. The signs are there. To make it possible and for a reading culture to manifest fully, we all have to do our part. The responsibility rests in all of us, in every Filipino.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Judging the Salanga 2006


I'm halfway reading the entries for this year's Salanga. I have set aside seven entries for a second reading. I'm afraid I can't finish by the end of the week since graduate studies and work in school must come first. Anyway, I still have a week more to read the rest.

I am not judging on the context of a writer for children, but rather, as a children's librarian. There are of course factors to consider like the craft of writing and the artistic and literary values of a story. I'll leave that to Rayvi Sunico. What I am looking for is a story that children will find easy to read and comprehend; a story that empowers them; a story that speaks their experience; a story that entertains them and challenges them to read more books or books of that genre. I don't know what the other judges has to say. We can always deliberate.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Book and Library Month (1 of 3) : Role of Parents

In the Philippines, November is book and library month. Peachy Limpin has blogged about the program for this year's 71st National Book Week celebration. The theme for this year, Developing the Culture of Reading Through Books and Libraries, is one that is very close to my heart. It is in fact, what I have always advocated and always will.

No matter how advanced we push through with technology, books and printed materials will stay. There is permanence to the existence of books and printed materials. I have always believed that for children to grow up as readers, one must start with the spoken word and firm up the skill with the printed word. This can further be enhanced when adults - parents, teachers, care givers, and those who look after them, develop a culture of reading or an environment that promotes reading.

Gone are the days when reading is forced to children. The idea that children must develop the skills to read is already part and parcel of good parenting. It is already an additional responsibility for parents of today to teach and model the reading habit to their kids. Times may be hard these days and buying books may be too luxurious. But if parents see it as an investment, it is worth the money.

There are also other ways to cultivate a reading culture at home. The home is actually the first school of the learning child. Before I go into the techniques and tips, parents must first realize that reading is necessary. Second, they must look into their definition of reading.

Reading is comprehension. It is the ability to understand symbols, signs, sounds and non-verbal communication. It is a global skill divided into three major parts namely; Word Recognition, Comprehension and Study Skills. It is not just a skill, but skills that are interconnected. The growing child may start with learning the alphabet, sounds and letters, but he is already capable of understanding a story read aloud or told orally. The learner may still be in the process of mastering skills to comprehend different text structures but at the same time, he may be able to apply them as tools to acquire content from the subjects in school. An adult may appreciate a variety of literary genre likewise be a strategic thinker and a critical user of different information sources and technology.

Reading has indeed, so many benefits. Starting them young is the key. I hope that these tips may help you parent a reader for life.

1. Model the reading habit.

2. Read aloud. Read everything, from telephone bills, street signs, restaurant menu, billboards, price tags, CD labels, Internet sites, SMS messages, etc.

3. Buy books. Give them as gifts. If budget is tight, borrow from the library. Have a variety of books from non-fiction to fiction, poetry and prose.

4. Involve your child in chores that follow a process; activity that requires a set of instructions to do; a creative endeavor that allows them imagine and make their own products. Examples are cooking, baking, art activities, gardening, taking care of a pet, learning a musical instrument, etc.

5. Be conscious of your child's needs and interests. This will help you choose materials for him to read and toys to play with.

6. Guide your child in using media and technology. Be there when they watch the TV, select CD's and videos. There are ways to read and understand them. How? Will post after this 3-part entry.

7. Let him interact with others. Acquiring new words and speech patterns help in vocabulary building and schema development.

8. Tell stories! Lots and lots!

9. Bring your child to bookstores and museums, to farms and factories, to parks and playgrounds. Bring him anywhere not just to malls.

10. Reach out to other parents and be friendly with you kid's teachers. They are partners in making your child, a life long reader.

This all for now. Next post will be about school and libraries, teachers and librarians.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

PTN is 4 months old!

Pinoy Teachers Network turns four months old on November 12, 2005. Like a new born baby, it is being nurtured and nourished by the very people who concieved it and by the growing members of Filipino and FilAm teachers from all over.

Since its conception in July 2005, PTN has become many things to its members. For Pinoy teachers, based abroad and otherwise, PTN is their support group; a network of ideas and information; a hub of professionals from the academe and allied disciplines; and, a news source about the Philippines. For Pinoy teachers who are budding and aspiring writers, it is a doorway in the publication of articles, essays, compositions and contributions about technology, parenting, education, teaching and life in general. Those with blogs are lucky to find that PTN is a free space to plug their blogs. From job hunting, press release of events and seminars, resource sharing and campaign of teaching advocacies to gossip and "kikay" stuff, PTN has indeed achieved a lot in its four months of existence.

PTN is already a growing e-community forged with the values of commitment and cooperation. The same values that inspire its members to continuously collaborate with in the network and outside of it. Using technology to reach out and connect with people and organizations, PTN is a living example on how collaboration can bridge the distance and fill the gaps.

Last month's visit to the Philippine ambassador in Washinton DC was a successful one. The ambassador gave his support to PTN and was very proud of the projects of PTN, one of which is the donation of winter clothes to Pinoy teachers based in Maryland. This month, PTN Washington DC Chapter is organizing a Meet and Greet activity with Pinoy Teachers in Virginia, USA. Partnering with Gawad Kalinga through Ed Tiongson, this is a collaborative effort of both organizations that is aimed at helping new Pinoy teachers adjust in a new environment. By 2006, the Manila Chapter is dreaming of having the same activity but with a twist to the Meet & Greet of its sister chapter in the US.

If you think that you can contribute to PTN in any way that you can that will inspire and encourage Pinoy teachers to be the best that they can be, do it now! Collaborate and be empowered!

Mabuhay ang Gurong Filipino! Mabuhay ang PTN!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Filipiniana For Children: Handicapped and Special Children

Beginning this month, I'll be posting bibliographies of Filipiniana for children. Ani Almario of Adarna Books was so nice to send two titles of their book blurbs. The rest are taken from our school library's Filipiniana Collection.

For this month, the theme is about handicapped and special children. The interest to start a bibliography of Filipiniana for children was inspired by a session on Bibliotherapy by Ms. Therese Pelias, Xavier School Grade 7 Counselor. She shared her thesis on Bibliotherapy among KUTING members last September. I'm mkaing this "little" project for the following:

a. Teachers and Care Givers - so they may have references of Filipiniana to use and integrate in their lessons.
b. Parents - so they may know that there are books written for their children discussing issues of chidlhood and growing up
c. School librarians - so they can build a Filipiniana collection that caters to the needs of Filipino children and in the process, promote Filipino culture.
d. Writers and illustrators - so they may be inspired to write more stories for children
e. Publishers - so they may publish more stories for children and lastly,
f. People in the allied professions and to anyone working for and with children

Rivera, Augie. XILEF. Quezon City : Adarna House, 2000.
Felix is a young boy afflicted with dyslexia. Through the support of his parents and his teacher's commitment to teach him, he eventually learned how to read and earned his self esteem. Illustrated by Beth Parocha-Doctolero.

Evasco, Eugene. Hilong Talilong. Quezon City : LG&M Corporation, 2005.
A loving aunt helps her nephew survive ADHD. Illustrated by Mark Ramsel N. Salvatus III

Bautista, Feny de los Angeles. Ang Kuya ni Karina. Quezon City : Cacho Publishing, 1996
Karina's brother is deaf. But no matter she loves him all the more. Illustrated by Abby Goy

Evasco, Eugene. Federico. Quezon City : Adarna House, 1997
*One of the most daring attempts at using storybooks to teach sensitive issues is Federico, which won in 1997. Eugene Evasco weaved the story of a child experiencing Down Syndrome into a very stirring narrative while Paul Eric Roca managed to interpret the story in such a way that the physical appearance of the main character would not be a source of malevolent amusement.

Molina, Russel. Titoy's Magic Chair. Quezon City : Adarna House, 2002
*Here comes Titoy's magic chair! Watch it turn into a car, a plane, or a train, and take Titoy to many wondrous places! Here is a heartwarming story about how a child's boundless imagination helps him overcome his limitations. Illustrations by Marcus Nada.

*Courtesy of Adrana House

Monday, November 7, 2005

Librarians = Missing Ingredient in the Library Hub Recipe

While I am happy to know that the Dep Ed's efforts to create Library Hubs all over the country is moving to reality, I am disappointed at the news that librarians are not directly involved (or not all, so it seems from the press releases) in the project.

Neni Cruz wrote in her article that training of "teacher-librarians" is part and parcel of the plan of action. Training has actually begun in Naga City. This bode well in the development of the library hubs. In another news item by Sandy Araneta, the library hubs are envisioned to hold 10,000 to 200,000 books since DepEd aims to bring books to public schools nationwide and make every Filipino child a reader. DepEd has, in fact, the "Every Child a Reader by Grade 3" program. These are all laudable efforts for both government agency and NGO's that support reading and literacy development.

The creation of libraries and reading centers pave the way for inculcating a genuine love for books and reading among the young. Training of teacher-librarians is important. Book collection is equally important. Access to books and reading materials is what our public school children deserve. Networking and collaborating with people, organizations and foundations are strategies that can sustain the growth of these libraries and reading centers.

However, librarians MUST be there, and MUST be visible to support and nurture these reading centers and library hubs for children to grow as readers. Teacher-librarians are not full time personnel for libraries, unless, the definition and job description of teacher-librarians in the country has changed. As far as I know, teacher-librarians are teachers with content area teaching load and part time librarians on the side. How can children access the books if the library is open only for an hour or so in the afternoon when classes are dismissed? Would the teacher-librarian prioritize the implementation of reading activities and programs when he/she is expected to teach first in the classroom? Are these teacher-librarians always present when a teacher is in need of books and learning materials for the students?

Books can come as gifts and donations by the millions but the school secretary or school custodian does not have the academic preparation to organize and maintain them specifically answering the developmental needs of learning children. Besides, book collection does not end with numbers. One poor school library may only have 10,000 but its quality may be immeasurable. Can custodians and secretaries evaluate the quality of a book collection? Can they articulate what area in the collection is weak or strong? Do we expect them to recommend titles?

Then, there is networking to consider. Nearby schools with library hubs can actually organize consortium to share the wealth of the book collection and fill up gaping needs. Aside from books, they can share ideas and expertise with each other, thereby, making the responsibility of reading development a community effort.

The Library Hub project of the DepEd is admirable. But if we want to raise readers, let's start by investing on LIBRARIANS. Create more items for public school and public libraries for librarians. Librarians can set up reading centers and libraries. Librarians can run programs and implement services for their clients. They are trained in library school to do so.

what would become of those library hubs without librarians? Have we thought about that?

Friday, November 4, 2005

I'm one happy School Librarian these days

Two news that make me smile-

the press release about the Department of Education's Library Hub project that was published last October 31, 2005 and

the recognition of Mr. Troy Lacsamana, point person behind the Aklatang Pambata project, as one of the Top 5 Faces of Volunteerism by HSBC.

Mabuhay and More Power!

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Bags of Books

Hi-ho! I'm still alive and kicking! It's semestral break but the PC I'm using at home is filled with spy ware and useless cookies. You can just imagine my frustration for not being able to update my blogs. Good thing that Internet Cafes are in abundance in Metro Manila. Thank you, Lord!

This morning, I brought two bags of books to the Marikina City Public Library. My good friend Evelyn Nabus is librarian there. She's been so nice inviting me for storytelling gigs and workshops that I just thought I'd return some favor by sending her my old and still very useful books. I donated most of my Newbery Collections, tons of pocket books, a good number of hard bound art books and biographies. I still have two more bags at home and I intend to donate it to her library just the same.

Evelyn was recounting her dreadful experience on the book shower-book drive activity they organized a few years back. She received lots of books alright, but she spent a year separating the chaff from the grain.

Public libraries are indeed wanting of books to put in their collection. But people who are kind enough to show compassion to public libraries must realize that they are donating to a LIBRARY and not a junk shop. Then again, the librarian can actually bundle the trash and sell it to a junk shop. Now that's additional earning for the library.

Book donations are always welcome. The librarian will always appreciate the generosity of the library's patrons. For those who are willing to give love to public libraries by book donations, kindly consider the following:

1. Book Condition - Donate books that are still in good condition. The kind that can still stand on its spine and pages are still complete. Be sure that the body is still intact. No missing texts, chapters or pages.

2. Book Quality - There are lots of reasons why you want to donate books. But when you do so, I hope it's not for the sake of getting rid of the trash. You may have outgrown some of them and yes, they gather dust, but others may find it usefull so you give them away. Donate books like you are imparting something precious to another person.

3. Library Management and Staff -Be sure that your books go to a library where there are people who will take care of them. Often, we don't really consider this. Your old books may still be in good condition and they may be of good quality to the reader, but if no one will organize, develop and maintain the books donated or acquired your generosity ends where your intentions began. A library without a librarian is nothing.

Indeed, libraries are growing organisms. Librarians make libraries grow. Help nurture your library. Donate books! For more tips on book donations, click here. I remember writing about it a few months ago and the tips may further help you decide where to deliver your books.
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