Friday, April 21, 2006

School Librarian In Action turns One

SLIA turns one this month of April. I will be in hiatus from blogging for several days, but I promise to give you the following posts before the month ends:

1. Children's books on Ecology & Environment
2. Full paper of "Blogs as Teaching Tools"
3. Yan Ang Pinay : Growing Up in War torn Manila

Till next post!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

iblog 2: The Aftermath

I still have a hang-over from iblog 2. Should you want to read my personal thoughts on the summit, go here. For now, I will let the others do the talking.

Clair posted her insights on the sessions that made an impression or inspired her somewhat, while Von did an excellent job at live blogging. Wow. With that spankingly new laptop that still carry the smell of Singapore, I am so envious that I'm pressured to pool my resources once again so I can have one too. Masama ito...

Going back to posts and thoughts on the summit, J Angelo Racoma likened the event to a reunion of some sort as Dean Jorge Bocobo,The Rizalist inserted a bit of history to amplify the remarkable Pinoy blogging phenom.

Atty. JJ Disini blogged in Disiniland the overwhelming success of the second Philippine Blogging Summit. There will be a third, that's for sure and comments for improvements are ripe for next year's summit.

I thought the tracks were a big help to participants because, it offered them a
wide array of topics on the many ways to blog and the endless possibilities of blogging. If there were participants who got confused or had a hard time making decisions which track to attend, I suggest that a short description of the module would help them. The organizers were so considerate to speakers who wished to be heard. I, for one, am very thankful to be given the venue to present my agenda on the use of blogs as teaching tools in particular, and technology, in general. Special thanks to Janette Toral for this experience.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Blogs as Teaching Tools

Here is a semi-outline of my presentation for tomorrow's iBlog Summit. Say "hi" if you're attending my panel.

I. Overview

This paper will discuss the characteristics of blogs that make it possible for teachers to use it in teaching and instruction. Techniques and strategies on how blogs can enhance the teaching and learning experience will also be identified, as well as, issues and limitations of its utility in the classroom setting. Examples of blogs used for educational and instructional purposes will be presented to give participants an idea on how it can be done.

II. Introduction

US based Perseus Development Corporation found out that 51.5 % of all blogs are being developed and maintained by 13 – 19 year olds. Another study discovered that 40.4 % of blog authors fall below the age of 20 years old. Livejournal’s largest distribution of blog authors are ages 20 and under (Huffaker, 2004).

What do these percentages tell us – parents, teachers, professionals working with learners with in the given age bracket? As educators, does the widespread and ubiquitous use of blogs by kids and teens mean anything to the practice of teaching and instruction? What implications can be derived from this scenario?

Since kids and teens have access to the blogosphere, can teachers use blogs for instructional purposes? If your answer is in the affirmative, the next question is, how can blogs enhance the learning environment and the teaching – learning experience?

III. Content - Blogs as Teaching Tools

Before going any further to the discussion of blogs as viable teaching tools, it is important that teaching and the tools involved in the act of teaching be defined.

A. Teaching is both an art and a science.
B. Enter technology.
C. What of blogs now?
D. Ready! Get Set! BLOG!
E. Sample Blogs - This is how they do it

IV. Conclusion

Blogging has indeed become a trendy activity for kids and teenagers. But, like in all technology, it is important that they learn life skills from using them. Becoming responsible facilitators of technology begins with witnessing and interacting with good examples. Teachers must therefore, fulfill their role as facilitators of learning who can model the conscientious use of learning tools and technology in classroom setting and in life, in general.

An understanding of blogging technology is paramount to using blogs as teaching tools. Technical and computer literacy will bring the teacher to the next level, extending learning experiences for students a notch higher than traditional practice, but a teacher’s creativity and imagination will spell a big difference.

Teachers must contend with the issues and limitations brought by blogs and blogging technology to make it work. Meaningful use of blogs as teaching tools does not happen in a vacuum or in a spur of the moment. It must be well thought of, well planned and driven by learning objectives and sound pedagogy.

V. References

For the full presentation and paper, attend the 2nd Philippine Blogging Summit tomorrow, April 18, 2006. It will be held at the UP College of Law, UP Diliman, Quezon City. Attendance is FREE. For deatils go to iBlog. See you there!

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Judging the Kwentong Kalikasan 2006

When we met last, I told Ani Almario that very soon I'll write my thoughts as judge in this year's RCBC Kwentong Kalikasan Contest. Finally, I am fulfilling my promise.

What kept me from starting a draft were constraints attributed to too much work in school, grad school and on the side. I just didn't have the time. What made me begin, however, was a piece of paper that held my precious honorarium. Call me thick, but money does change everything.

Honestly, I was surprised. It was an unexpected delivery. Nevertheless, it was a wake up call to finish my judging duties. I realized that the organizers, the contestants and their moderators deserve feedback. It would be a disservice to them if I keep it all to myself. So here it goes - my feedback, observations and recommendations to teacher moderators of the students who joined and who, in the future, will join this contest.

First of all my general comments. The entries provided me a glimpse at how reading and writing is being taught in Philippine schools today. There are so many things I want to say about this, but perhaps, it would be better to save it for another post. The stories written were greatly influenced by broadcast media, television, MTV and Disney- proving once more that western influence is very strong. More stories were written in English, besides. Some entries were written in folk loric fashion and they always end up with a sermon or a disaster, likewise the use of dreams to change an attitude, a way of life, a perception or world view and in introducing a whole new culture. There is an appropriate use of dreams and it takes a certain sophistication for it to be effective. In most stories, the tendency to preach is inevitable. I find this debilitating rather than empowering.

It is important for moderators to teach their students the responsibility that writers carry on their shoulders and how it can give them great power. Written stories are meant to be read.

Consider with great care the possible and potential readers of the story. A reader thinks. A reader feels. A reader acts on these thoughts and feelings. Reading is an interactive process. The reader reacts and responds to a written text. A reader brings forth a wealth of experiences that are activated when reading a story, a narrative, a non-fiction material, anything under the sun. This is true to all people, children included.

Speaking of reading, it appears that the books and materials that teacher-moderators are exposed to are very limited. There are so many wonderful environment stories out there and it seems that these are not yet discovered by them. I have included titles of good books that tackle environment issues and concepts at the end of this article as recommended reads. May the list help.

Now off to the nitty-gritty and the nit-picking!

1. Know thy objectives. Are you joining to win the lucrative prize? Are you joining for fame, popularity or promotion? Are you moderating your students because you believe that the contest is a good training ground to develop their writing potentials? Or you're joining because you believe in the power of story to move people into action, thereby, affecting change? Tough questions? It does not require a correct or wrong answer, really. My point is, you have to know what you are doing and the reasons or intentions you have with in yourself otherwise, you can not plan or prepare well enough. If your objectives are unclear, sit down and develop them. Envision ways to reach them. And always, always, put top priority on the children that you are moderating. They will learn your ways and model your writing habits.

2. Submit a decent manuscript. Two adjectives that matter; CLEAN and COMPLETE. Follow the guidelines. If it does not call for illustrations, forego the drawings.

3. Stick to the theme, but think "out of the box". Animals, tress, mountains have been animated in many a story by very good writers. Model their examples, but challenge yourself and your students to cook up something new, fresh or unconventional. A formula may work, but even Disney has given up on these formulas so stop finding Nemo. Focus on little things and magnify their importance. A simple walk on the beach can elicit so many insights. A small empty shell can be everything to a hermit crab. A pearl begins life in a clam. A starfish may hold a secret that is only known to the wind and the waves. Every mountain, hill and rock has a story as ancient as the seas. Imagine what these are and explore them.

4. Think of text structures to help you establish a good plot. These are, cause and effect; problem-solution, chronological order, part-whole relationships, etc.

5. Write regularly. And I mean you! Yes, the moderator. Follow the process involved in writing. It requires DISCIPLINE and HARD WORK.

Lastly, endings do not have to be good or happy all the time. You'll see what I mean until next post. I will share with you some good books to study, to analyze, to model and, of course, to READ.

Monday, April 3, 2006

The 2nd iblog Philippine Blogging Summit

Attend iBlog 2, the Philippines' 2nd Blogging Summit! Go to iBlog 2 , the Philippines’ 2nd Blogging Summit. Attendance is FREE. Register now to save your seat!

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