Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bloglet lets me down?

I just found out that SLIA's Bloglet feature - an RSS sort of thing (go correct me if I'm wrong) that informs my readers of current posts, is not working. Again.

Gah, technology. I'm no geek, though I consider myself tech savvy enough to survive the digital age.

The last time I looked, I only had around 60 subscribers. Now, I have eight wonderful readers in the list (I pat myself on the back). Not bad after a year of blogging about school libraries and the profession. Do let me know if you're receiving announcements that I've updated my blog. For the meantime, I will study Feedblitz.

Blogging 101

I am posting this in verbatim. I got the information from LM_NET, one of my egroups on libraries and information science. I found the hits very helpful for bloggers and blograrians (big or small, novice or advanced). Scroll down and read familiar names.

I actually received more requests for a Hit than I received Hits.
That said, the ones I received had some good information. Many
thanks for sharing. Here's the list. . . .

Ronda Y. Foust
School Media Librarian in Training, UTK
Oak Ridge, TN

Blogging 101 as Shared by LM_Netters - www.blogger.com
Blogger.com is very easy, and should get you started right away.
From: Dawn Stellmann

Blogger.com is really easy to use. Just pick your template and start
writing. There is also a "tour" you can take before you start.
From: Kimberly Titus

Von Totanes, the owner of the blog did a very comprehensive Blogging
101 during the CONSAL. He has the full paper in his blog. You may
also want to personally contact him via the Cc. From: Zarah Gagatiga

(Note: The full text version of this talk is available at:
librariansfull-text.html -- Ronda)

Try my blog that I made for a presentation. It has links about lots
of blogging issues and how to's. From: Paula Joseph
(Note: If you scroll down, there is a section entitled Blog
Considerations that includes a teacher’s guide to blogs, teens guide
to safe blogging, and more. -- Ronda)

From: Alice Yucht
(Note: Scroll on down. Numbered sections detail Getting Started
with Bloglines, Some Basic Definitions, and a whole lote more. – Ronda)

I'd go with edublog http://edublogs.org/ They are using WordPress
which is easy to learn your way around in AND there is a great amount
of support. Free, no ads, not blocked anywhere I know of (yet). WP
has the best rated spam protection - my site blocks about 100 a week;
I get one or two a month held for authorizing first. No problems with
legit comments. If you later want to move to your own server or
domain, WP exports the data and imports it very easily. From:
Robert Eiffert

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Slogans for Your Library

The American Association of School Libraries (AASL) does not recommend the following slogans.

Top Ten @ your library slogans not recommended by AASL

10. Fool the security system @ your library
9. Find books that don't suck @ your library
8. Pull the fire alarm @ your library
7. Surf for porn @ your library
6. Take a nap @ your library
5. Download a term paper @ your library
4. Wedgies @ your library
3. Scan your butt @ your library
2. Hack and chat @ your library

and the number one @ your library slogan not recommended by AASL:

1. Get lucky in the stacks @ your library

Interesting "do nots" taken from Doug Johnson's blog/site. See how far librarianship has evolved! What of your rules and guidelines in your school library?

Friday, May 12, 2006

SCBWI Asia - Seminar Workshop

Cave and Shadows, by Nick Joaquin... "Barefoot in Fire: A World
War II Childhood" by Barbara-Ann Gamboa Lewis... "Cinco de
Noviembre," by Rene Javellana.... These are some of the books
that we will touch on in July. Just part of a whole seminar and
workhop on writing historical fiction and non-fiction for children
and young adults. Interested? Please read on.

"Putting the Story in History"

What : A seminar and workshop on writing historical fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. This seminar and workshop is helpful to people writing historical fiction as well as those writing nonfiction, memoirs, or family histories

When : 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday July 15 and 8 a.m. to 12 noon Sunday July 16, 2006

Where : Orchid Garden Suites, 620 Pablo Ocampo Sr. Street, Malate (near the Sheraton)

Who : Chris Eboch, author and SCBWI Regional Advisor for New Mexico. Chris is the author of The Well of Sacrifice (Clarion Books, 1999), a middle grade historical adventure set in ninth century Guatemala. Kirkus Reviews called The Well of Sacrifice, "[An] engrossing first novel…. Eboch crafts an exciting narrative with a richly textured depiction of ancient Mayan society." www.chriseboch.com

Sessions will cover * What is Historical Fiction? The difference between historical fiction and history; what historical fiction can do; methods of historical research; how to explain painful truths such as historical violence and racism. * Set the Scene: Make history come alive through a vivid setting. * Dazzling Descriptions: Learn to paint the scene through a series of fun exercises. * Plotting and Pace: Use fact in your fiction to develop your idea into a plot, and learn how to balance historical details so the plot keeps moving. * Characters Kids Love: Build strong and realistic historical characters. * The Final Words: Learn to critique and edit your work, and to find markets; time for questions. Handouts include a character chart, critique questions, and a sample list of historical fiction books.

Stories from Philippine History : Chris' presentation will also touch on Philippine books including * Cave and Shadows, by Nick Joaquin * Barefoot in Fire: A World War II Childhood, by Barbara-Ann Gamboa Lewis * Only If You Can Find Me, by Patricia Laurel * The Batang Historyador series, from Adarna House * Cinco de Noviembre, by Rene Javellana * First Around the Globe: The Story of Enrique, by Marc and Reni Singer * And more

Registration : Download it here, keep a copy for your file, and submit directly to Beaulah, Nikki, or Ani. Or, send by fax to Ani at 372-3548 local 115. Or, email all the required information to beaulah.taguiwalo@yahoo.com

Here is a sample of the form:

1. Name ______________________________________________
2. Occupation and affiliation if any _________________________
3. Mailing address ______________________________________
4. Email ______________________________________________
5. Landline ____________________________________________
6. Mobile _____________________________________________
7. Date and time you deposited your payment _______________

Payment * Check one option, Includes snacks and one lunch
[ ] P2000 if paid by June 10, 2006 (P1800 for SCBWI members)
[ ] P2350 if paid by June 30, 2006 (P2150 for SCBWI members)
[ ] P2700 if paid after June 30 (P2500 for SCBWI members)

* First come first served. Please text 0917-787-4956 before paying.

* This is your pre-paid, non-refundable but transferrable attendance fee. Please deposit the amount in BPI current - not savings - account 0335-8006-56. The account name is "Beaulah Taguiwalo and/or Ani Rosa Almario". Note : We need a copy of your deposit slip. You may scan or take a digital photo of it and email the jpeg file to beaulah.taguiwalo@yahoo.com. Or, you can fax the deposit slip to Ani Almario at 372-3548 local 115, with your complete name printed in big block letters. Make sure that the date and time of deposit is clearly visible.

Important : Your registration is confirmed only after you receive an email and/or text message from us at the email address and mobile number that you gave above. Once your registration is confirmed, all you have to do is show up on July 15 at Orchid Garden Suites. It's at 620 Pablo Ocampo Sr. Street, Malate, Manila, Tel. 523-9836 or 523-9860, right beside the Sheraton Hotel. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before 8:00 a.m. and bring your original deposit slip with you.

Event Secretariat

* Nikki Garde-Torres
Asst. Regional Advisor, SCBWI
0917-667-1267 nikkigarde@yahoo.com

* Ani Rosa Almario
Asst. Regional Advisor, SCBWI
0917-628-7546 ani@adarna.com.ph

Overall Supervision
* Beaulah Taguiwalo
Regional Advisor, SCBWI
0917-787-4956 beaulah.taguiwalo@yahoo.com

Eco-environment stories

My search for recommended books to read and use as models for writing eco-environment stories had been pleasurable and surprising. I am amazed at the abundant titles of eco-environment stories that can be found in our Filipiniana collection. And I have not begun looking for foreign titles, yet. Just imagine the many books teachers and moderators of writing could use if only they have easy and quick access to these learning materials. My loyalties still lie on libraries, of course. But, if these titles are neither available in school nor public libraries, they are most likely in bookstore shelves.

Now here is the first batch of books. I have identified three of them and if they are not in your collection yet or the library's the bookstores offer them in very affordable prices.

Reyes-Velaso, Penny. Are you the Forest King?. Quezon City: Pangea Books, 2000.

A young boy wanders and wonders who could be the Forest King. His curiosity led him to discover a lush beautiful forest inhabited by creatures big and small. These animals and plant life make up the delicate balance of nature. Written originally in English, the book had been translated in the Filipino by Rev. Fr. Rene B. Javellana, SJ. Illustrated using collage technique, Velasco used dried and pressed flowers, leaves and seeds.

Aside from ecological balance, readers will also see the value of smallness and how it can be beautiful. One tiny seed is a promise of greater things. One tree make up a vast forest where wildlife and plant life can flourish. Akin to this promise of growth and abundance is a responsibility to nurture and nourish, to heal and protect the forests that contributes to our sanctuary, the planet Earth.

Teachers and moderators of writing can focus on the relationship of man to his environment. Very so often conflicts arise given this relationship since man's needs can be answered by the animals he has tamed and the plants he has tended. They can explore on the problems and solutions that man must grapple with when using natural resources, water or land. Choices and consequences are also starting points to write stories involving man and his external environment. To move further, teachers and moderators can use real life examples in the community or news and information items found in the dailies and pamphlets.

Villanueva, Rene O. The Zimbragatzees of the Planet Zing. Quezon City: Lampara Publishing House, 2002.

This story won Villanueva his nth Palanca for Children's Story. Known in the Philippine Children's Lit circle as a versatile and prolific writer in Filipino, Villanueva surprisingly wrote in English, proving once again his great achievement in this craft and his competent skill.

Villanueva writes about a planet, much like our own, but inhabited by fun loving Zimbragatzees. They are creatures blessed with long, sensitive noses. Each Zimbragatzee is known for its unique nose. No nose is alike and the same. It does not only function as an organ for olfactory, but it is their identity as well. They were a happy lot, until one day, they had a sneezing fit due to the growing pollution of their planet. The effect was devastating. Their noses became smaller and smaller until it disappeared. It took them awhile to solve the problem and to face the consequences brought by their decision to modernize.

Jason Moss lends his whimsical and playful illustration that is very effective in extending the reader's context of story.

What does this book tell teachers and moderators of writing? It shows how cause and effect can be used as structure for plot development. Losing one's identities over the choices and decisions we make is a jarring theme that applies not only to the self, but to the community and the world in general. What made this book truly empowering lies in its denouement. Change and salvation is possible with hardwork and determination.

Magnuson, Robert. The Spectacular Tree. Quezon City: Lampara, 2001.

Magnuson's first book is a triumph on writing and illustration for someone who claimed that his writer's block is the greatest block of them all. In his book, he enunciates the multiple meanings of being "spectacular". Each one can be great. The key is to look inside one's capacities and abilities. True enough, just like in life, one can achieve and accomplish with the knowledge of one's strength and weakness.

By emphasizing collaboration, dependency and co-habitation, the book is a good read to remind young and old alike that each creature in this world needs another. No man is an island so they say.

Given these three books as my initial recommendations, it is clear that eco-environment stories can be about relationships, biodiversity, responsibility and self discovery. Gone are the "gunaw" stories. Should there be an element of the fantastic, it should be written as magical as its genre. And that skill will take time to master and polish.

So begin with the basics. Look for significant human experiences. Writing eco-environment stories can be anchored on the fundamental laws of nature. Give and take. Building homes and habitats. Greatness begins with small things.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

SLIA Logo by Elbert Or

I am well aware that I owe my readers two more posts; a book review for Yan Ang Pinay Series and recommended reads on eco-environment books for kids. My apologies for breaking a promise to post by April's end. My schedule at work is so erratic. I am undergoing a shift in career. Nothing drastic. I am still a school librarian.

For those who are awaiting my promised book reviews, do not worry. I will fulfill it. For now, I am so happy to share with you two wonderful logos done by the imaginative and the irrepressible, Elbert Or.

lib_logo_02 lib_logo_01

Either of these will decorate SLIA. I still have to decide as I like them both!

Now you may ask, who is Elbert Or? Visit his blog by clicking his highlighted name.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Full Paper - Blogs as Teaching Tools

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

The exposure that children and adolescents get from computers and the Internet is prevalent. These gadgets are available to them, likewise, are easily accessible. Because of this, kids and teens have acquired skills that allow them to manipulate a variety of technology. Whether these skills were obtained at home, in school or among peers, they use technology and they use it frequently.

Email, e-groups and chat rooms, forums and discussion boards are popular online destinations. Network gaming is a favorite leisurely activity too. The facilitation of research, writing of reports and completion of assignments are done through the aid of MS Office programs, the Internet and other software applications. And then there are blogs, online diaries and journals that caught their attention and fancy.

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.

Teaching is both an art and a science.

Teaching is an art because it involves the creation of environments for learning and activities that invoke learning. Embedded in the design of the learning environment are set of skills, a particular learning approach, a methodology and a plethora of strategies and techniques all endeavoring to engage learners thereby, meeting learning goals and objectives. The craft of putting these all together is anchored on philosophies, theories of learning – both cognitive and behavioral, concepts and studies derived from human and developmental psychology. This makes teaching, a science.

There are a lot of areas and dimensions of teaching - curriculum and subject matter, classroom management, methods and techniques, learning styles and different levels of learners. In the midst of al these necessary elements that comprise teaching, teachers should also be cognizant of the available tools to deliver the planned and the designed instruction effectively. Through the use of such tools, teachers are aided to achieve learning goals and the desired learning experience. Such tools make for an engaging, if not, interesting encounter.

Enter technology.

As far as teaching tools are concerned, recent advances in technology provide teachers the opportunity to choose from a wide array of gadgets and watcha-ma-callits. There are a variety of types and formats that are called in different names and are classified in various categories.

Multimedia Learning Aids. Instructional Media. Instructional Technology. These are some of the few labels that media specialists and educational technologist have conjured. Interactive software. Audio-Visual materials. Online resources. Printed format. These are but a few classifications based on physical presentation. But, the key in deciding which teaching tool to use for a specific learning experience or environment is on the knowledge that a certain tool or technology facilitates a certain skill (Draude & Barce, 1998); a particular teaching tool or technology achieves a particular learning objective.

For example, email technology promotes better communication skills; presentation software help learners visualize and organize ideas; videos provide clear representations of actual events that are difficult to imagine (Draude & Barce, 1998). An LCD projector is a better equipment to use in big group presentations rather than a 29- inch TV-PC set; a PC is still the better tool to use when learning concepts and skills from multimedia software and when read information from online resources. Each tool is unique and each has a purpose. It is the teacher’s responsibility to understand these tools so that he can appropriately decide which to use in planning a lesson and designing instruction.

What of blogs now?

By now, you must have known that blogs are online journals and diaries. It is accessible, via the Internet, anytime and anywhere. What’s more, a subscription is not needed. Basic blogging is for free. Aside from these, blogs can be individualistic and at the same time, collaborative.

Its individualistic nature allows the blog author to develop a personalized content, likewise, his very own *knowledge management system. Since comments and feedback are staple features of blogs, it makes it collaborative. Group blogs are possible, besides. This offers blog members of a particular blog to discuss and share ideas with one another.

Blogs can also be multidisciplinary. While reading and writing are the two basic skills necessary to develop and maintain a blog, digital fluency is required to keep it excitingly going. Topics and content to write about can be anything under the sun. From general information to politics, IT to arts and crafts, religion to entertainment, blog content crosses disciplines and genres.

Another remarkable thing about blogs is that, it is easy to learn. More and more, free blog techtorials are cropping up in the Internet. Depending on the time and technology, a novice blogger can quickly move up to average level and exceptional status. The community of bloggers around the world is a thriving one. It is likely that a newbie will get all the help and support by simply becoming a member of the blogosphere.

And so, teacher! Ready? Get set! Blog!

How can blogs be tools for teaching? Lorrie Jackson of Education World identifies the following ways to maximize blogs in the classroom.

• Reflect on their reading or classroom discussions.
• Investigate topics online and then report on their research.
• Record group progress on a project.
• Talk about shared classroom experiences.
• Copy and paste thought-provoking quotes from other blogs, and then offer their own thoughts on the topic.
• Ask professional writers to edit their blogs, or provide feedback.

For older learners with more sophisticated computer and technology skills, The Crooked Timber (2003) enumerates five techniques to use blogs in teaching and instruction.
(1) Standard class web pages
(2) Professor-written blogs that cover interesting developments that relate to the theme of the course.
(3) Organization of in-class discussion
(4) Organization of intensive seminars where students have to provide weekly summaries of the readings.
(5) Requiring students to write their own blogs as part of their grade

And because I am a school librarian, whose many roles include helping teachers teach, allow me to add some tips and ideas in the pot.
• Compile and create directories of websites and online resources that students can use as references to the course.
• Post activities of lessons. This can be motivational games, enrichment activities or reinforcements used to extend concepts and topics relating to different worldviews.
• Make it a digital gallery of students’ works or a digital anthology of finished written compositions.
• Invite other class from other schools locally and abroad to discuss unit lessons.
• Publish a class online project where in other students can benefit from.
The list can go on and on. The creative teacher can always think of ways and strategies to optimize blogs as teaching tools. There are, however, limitations to these possibilities. Identifying some of them will aid the teacher to prepare for solutions; to bargain with administration and parents; and to get ready for students’ questions.
The Filipino Librarian (2006) constructively referred to these limitations as issues to discuss and talk about.
Time: Teachers are a busy lot. Where can you squeeze in your busy schedule to learn about blogging basics? How long is your unit lesson? Is the blog a long term project or a short one?
Control: Will you be teaching the lesson or course alone? Or do you have a teacher to team with you? Are learning objectives clear and well thought of? What is the extent of student involvement in the blog? How will you asses learning and student performance?
Ethics: Rules, procedures and guidelines for students are a MUST.
Digital divide: While Internet access is common and widespread, consider all your learners’ economic status.
Other factors to consider are school policy on technology use; paternal consent (for younger learners, like basic education students, this is a requirement); technology literacy level of teacher and learner; and internal and external support systems.
To further help you visualize as to how blogs can be teaching tools, let us visit some of them.
Moodle / E-Learning
Digital Anthology of Teacher Sol’s Class
Blogging for Teachers
Blogs & Education
Pinoy Teachers Network
The Filipino Librarian

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
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