Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Convo on Makerspaces 1 of 3

I am sharing this exchange of conversation I had with Micaela Ramos of Big Pond Enterprises over at Messenger. Our topic is about Library Makerspaces.

Micaela Ramos: Hi Ms. Zarah! I read your blog on the makerspace you created in your library. Naimpress po talaga ako! I'm also a librarian from UPD but now working in a publishing company. Interested po akong malaman kung kamusta na po yung makerspace niyo ngayon? mas naggrow po ba? Thank you  po for your time!

Zarah Gagatiga: Same reception. Nagdagdag ako ng DIY Zen Garden this time. Nagustuhan rin ng mga students.

MR: Wow Ma'am ang galing niyo naman po. Mas involved na po ba yung faculty sa pagbuo ng makerspace or efforts niyo lang po lahat?

ZG: I think a makerspace is more successful if it is integrated in a subject area or content. Hindi pa rin sila involved.

MR: Ano po mga efforts niyo to get them involved? resistant po ba sila or busy lang?

ZG: I think initiatives like this need deliberate planning with faculty. Yung ginawa ko kase, under student services. Yung guidance counselor namin ang mas involved. What she did was to refer students to the stress buster table so they can make the art. And everyone is welcome to do it.

MR: Ma'am paano po kayo nagpropose sa student services? kinailangan niyo pa po ba ijustify? or sarili niyo na lang initiative tapos nagwork na lang kayo with the library's budget?

ZG: I didn't propose anymore. I know the thrusts and programs of the school, both academics and students services so, I plan my programs around it.

Part 2 of this convo is about the principles and pedagogy of Makerspaces.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Librarians as Community Developers

I started a read aloud demo.
Last week, I was a witness to the important role librarians and libraries play in building community. The story begins like this.

In March 2017, DepEd Cabuyao Superintendent Jonathan Forelo Bernabe wrote a letter to the Philippine Librarians Association Inc., (PLAI) requesting for a workshop on library development. The letter reached PLAI President Mike Pinto in mid-April. Mr. Pinto, through PLAI Secretariat, got in touch with DepEd Cabuyao with a recommendation to contact Mr. Rene Manlangit, current regional representative of PLAI Southern Tagalog Region Librarians Council. These two gentlemen, once they established linkage, immediately worked together to set up a three day training workshop for teachers on school library development.

DepEd Cabuyao took charge of all logistics, operational costs, DepEd requirements and the mandate of having 91 K-12 teachers and principals present in the workshop. PLAI STRLC made sure to create and design a training workshop on school library development 101. When Mr. Manlangit got in touch with me on this endeavor, it was too difficult to turn down.

I remember what I wrote in the blog about librarians and libraries building communities of learners and readers back in 2015 :

For librarians who are helping teachers, community developers and people in Non-government organizations set up libraries, remember to begin with the knowledge of the community and their experience of libraries. We are creating learning spaces and avenues of thinking. The books and formats of information we organize must be contextualized to a philosophy and a culture. That culture and philosophy is in part found in the community to which the library belongs to.
My participation in the 3-day workshop was to conduct a four hour storytelling workshop with the participants. But, I included activities in my workshop that would help teachers look at the bigger role of libraries as community centers where learning and thinking takes place.

Sharing time: I like listening to insights of teachers.
I reflect on this experience and if I get involved in another workshop like this, I will:

a. Consider, first and foremost, the context of the K-12 teachers as builders of knowledge through by facilitating critical and creative thinking skills activities;

b. Apply differentiated activities for participants, especially for K-12 teachers as they are teaching learners from different stages of development;

c. Conduct more reading into writing activities that focus on the creation and communication of knowledge and ideas;

d. Use local knowledge and history as resources for workshop activities.

And so, I pray for good health and a kind and forgiving heart. I feel I have so much more to do for others. I know I will get by with a little help from my friends.

Storytelling Workshop at DepEd Cabuyao

My storytelling workshop with teachers and principals of DepEd Cabuyao last week was another engaging encounter. For four hours, participants listened, joined in the games, worked in groups, created story flashcard and told stories! Here are some photos of the fun we had!

During the workshop, teachers illustrated their own story flashcards.

Selfie and photobombers!
Happy teachers at work!

Teachers told stories during the workshop using story flashcards which they made earlier.

I thank the organizers of the workshop, DepEd Cabuyao and the Philippine Librarians' Association Inc., Southern Tagalog Region Librarians Council (PLAI STRLC) for putting together this training session for teachers. We hope to see their efforts and initiative grow in the near future.

The 2017 Philippine Children's Book Summit: Illustrators' Fair

Monday, May 29, 2017

#milclicks Reading List: Media Literacy and Media Education

My participation in the MIL MOOC of UNESCO and Athabasca University prompts me to read further on Media Literacy. The unit where Media Literacy is discussed has clear definitions of the concept but I feel I need to brush up on my knowledge on media education. 

I am sharing resources on media education and Media Literacy that I found online.

The Center for Media Literacy has a list of readings about Media Literacy beginning from its basic definition to curricular programs and best practices gathered from media educators and practitioners. Articles and reports, case studies and lesson plans are included in the  list as well. What I am keen on reading is the framework for teaching Media Literacy in the digital age.

Media Smarts is Canada's center for the teaching of Media Literacy. It has resources for teachers in integrating Media Literacy with Media Education. There is a section for parents where tips and strategies in raising kids in the digital age are collated and put together. It has book recommendations and reviews of websites to help parents understand media better. The section on Research is also a treasure trove of readings on media use and digital citizenship.

Lastly, the  UNESCO Media Education Kit provides teachers, parents and media practitioners with lesson plans, activities and programming strategies for the instruction of media education. The kit is a PDF and can be downloadable for free.

To become media literate, one needs to be educated about media and the technology used to make it. 

Laging Bago ang Mundo ng Libro

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Teacher and School Librarian Collaboration: Search Strategies for Grade 9 (2 of 2)

Research Packets: MLA and APA Citation Guides
Understanding the teacher's unit plan or lesson plan helps me identify areas for information literacy skills integration. When I read the unit plan of my co-teacher, I had a clearer understanding of her learning objectives, target work study and research skills (for this instance IB calls it ATL - approaches to learning), the coverage of the concepts and skills to be learned, as well as the context of students. As I wrote in a previous blog post, our grade 9 students are gearing up for the Personal Project. The English unit plan tackles on skills in finding topics for PP, thus, the need to know basic search strategies (Boolean), note taking, bibliography and citations.

Using the unit plan, I wrote down the specific skills I can facilitate. I then met with the English teacher to establish connections and clarify scope of topics I would cover during the 30 minute library session. I made a lot of discoveries: tips and tricks to search sources in Google; worksheets that are appropriate for the students; additional sources for citation guides. I recalled past Information Literacy skills activities I had and there I found basic concepts on search strategies that helped me improve my plan. I reviewed the search functionality of our database subscriptions.

Wolfram Alpha Computes Knowledge for You
 Apparently, the English teacher and I were looking for ways to break apart a cognitive activity and repack it in a way that is easier to grasp and use. We both know that we are teaching thinking skills -- critical and creative thinking. And so, I sent her samples of worksheets I found online as well as suggestions in helping students understand their own process when conducting research at its initial stage. I shared with her search engines I found that show numeric data (Wolfram Alpha, well, it's not a search engine, really) and semantic map (InstaGrok). I suggested that students create a visual map of the task. Mapping one's thoughts help in visualizing thinking and seeing the process at work. I like visual maps and mind maps because both are techniques to metacognition.

In research, and in teaching Information Literacy, it is important for students to know where they are in the process, how they plan to meet goals and answer their research questions, and find ways to overcome road blocks. More importantly, they need to be assured that they have companions in their research.

On the day of the session, the grade 9s, eager beavers they are, were able to use the search strategies taught to them. They used the library OPAC, Googled for internet sources and, because they have bibliographic note cards, located information with in sources. It was a productive session, in general. After a week or so, students come to the library to complete the note taking task that the English teacher gave them. As a summative, they made a visual map or a mind map of their initial journey in researching for topics for their PP.

My new favorite search engine is InstaGrok!

I still have to get back to the English teacher as well as the PP Coordinator, because, I am interested to see how the students arrived at choosing a topic. So, yeah... more about research and IL posts in the future!

Learning From Peers: Observing Classes this Academic Year

Class observations are a regular practice in the Academy. In my six years of stay here, I have visited classrooms of my co-teachers and colleagues and have seen them teach in action. Here is a blog post from 2014 where I write about insights I gained from a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) class I observed back then. 

This academic year, I have been to three classrooms and have been invited by the Business Management (BM) teacher in a class presentation of case studies. I have seen a variety of instructional strategies that my co-teachers employ as well as responses from their students.

I enjoyed listening to students' discussion during an English class. How the teacher gave them confidence to tackle and talk about issues that affected themselves and the world in general. Ursula Le Guin has good stories and essays to bring this out from students, but it is the English teacher's trust on her students that amazed me. The material was chosen well; the instructions to read the material was given ahead of time, with pointers on literary elements for students to pay particular attention to; and students were taught how to take notes at the beginning of the term. So, at Harkness Table, the discussion was very rich. Hope for this country floats!

In Economics, students work in groups accessing and selecting sources for their commentary. This is a senior class and I was glad to see the independence of the students at work. What impressed me more was the way a group helped a classmate who appeared to be lagging behind with the required work for the period. It was like a study group where students learn from each other. All the while, the Econ teacher supervised by observing class dynamics, lending consultations when student asked for it, and managing the time with the objectives in mind.

In the BM class, the seniors presented their case studies. There were revisions to be made, especially in the investigation of the case studies. Nonetheless, students came prepared with their presentations, dressed like young professionals ready for the world.

Looking back at these experiences, I realize how teachers in the high school and senior high school levels assume the role of coaches, counselors and mentors. It is in the design of teaching and learning experiences that makes a lot of difference. They appear to be having a ball but, really, the role is not an easy one to play. Knowing their students and where to bring them to is another factor for meaningful instruction and teaching practice. Being adept at teaching one's subject matter is one thing, but understanding the context and the learning conditions of learners is another.

Lastly, I realized how important feedback can be for students starting out in the IB Program. When I sat in the class of the Design teacher, she had all her reflection question ready for the students to think through. Her class, bright eyed and ready wrote on their worksheets. The writing activity helped students assess their progress in a month long project that prepared them for more challenging tasks in the coming year. Their reflections were helpful in facilitating feedback where the teacher assumed the role of a mentor guiding them through the entire process. Indeed, the students came out of the class with choices and possibilities to mull over on future academic endeavors.

Such observations and insights provide me with information I can use to improve the design of the library's programs and services. My co-teachers are designing learning environments with the students at the forefront of their instructional design. This approach has a lot to tell me about the behavior and attitude of teachers and students towards the use of information and media. Definitely, like our students learning from each other, teachers are also learning from peers.

Monday, May 15, 2017

#milclicks of the Week: Think Before You Click

This is a photo of our library bulletin board for nearly two academic school years.

We decided to have it up way before my involvement with the national round table discussion on Media and Information Literacy. At the time me and my staff were thinking of what to display on our bulletin board, I was already concerned with the online behavior of kids, mine and my students, in social media. With the national elections closing in last May 2016, we didn't bother changing it at all.

While there are more ways to create an impact in the promotion, campaign and teaching of Media and Information Literacy, information service through announcements, infographics, fliers and brochures aid in awareness building. A variation of this bulletin board can be done through a checklist or graphic organizer. The material changes from a public service announcement to a teaching aid that prompts reflection and evaluation of content that is available in social media.

It may simply look like this:

If you think the bulletin board display and the worksheet is useful, drop a comment. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Call for Papers: The Rizal Library International Conference 2017

Fifty years ago, when the Rizal Library first opened, students were required to remain completely silent inside the premises, research was done by searching typewritten 3x5 cards and print indexes, and there were no computers on campus.

Fifty years later, the Rizal Library allows students to hold group discussions in designated areas, research can be done using print and electronic resources, and assignments can be written and printed on PCs and Macs.

The Rizal Library—along with other libraries in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and the rest of the world—has changed with the times during the past five decades but its mission remains the same: to
facilitate learning.

This year, the Rizal Library International Conference, with “Click!” as its theme, aims to cultivate discourses on librarians' roles in expanding their network within the larger community, through culture and society, and in the field of communication and technology.


On its 50th anniversary, the Rizal Library invites librarians, professors, and enthusiasts to submit papers that explore the enrichment of library management and experience in Southeast Asia and
the rest of the world.

Suggested topics include:

Community: institutional collaborations, library partnerships,
librarian empowerment and capacity building, knowledge development

Culture and History: Southeast Asian studies and libraries, evolution
of cultures in literary texts, reading customs and practices

Communication and Technology: social media, source preservation,
accessibility, big data, data mining

Proposals should include the following:

Topic (choose from those enumerated above)
Paper abstract (maximum of 250 words)
Curriculum vitae with photo (indicate achievements and/or publications
within the last 5 years)

Please email proposals to  by 15 May 2017.

Please see the call for papers below and/or the website:

Important dates

15 May 2017 - Submission of paper proposals
15 June 2017 - Notification of accepted proposals
1 September 2017 - Submission of full paper
30 September 2017 - Deadline for early bird registration
16-18 November 2017 - Conference proper

For more information you may contact the following

Engracia S. Santos
Conference Chair
Ateneo de Manila University
 +[632] 4266001 ext. 5559/5564

Rosalyn Santos
Conference Co-Chair
Ateneo de Manila University
 +[632] 4266001 ext. 5559/5564

Kareen Banal
Head, Promotions Committee
Ateneo de Manila University
 +[632] 4266001 ext. 5554

Saturday, May 13, 2017

#ReadingWithoutWalls (2 of 2)

Last week at school, I sent the Dean of Student Services and our Guidance Counselors an email requesting for their support in our Summer Reading Program.
One of my favorite authors, Richard Peck, once said that we (readers) can find ourselves in the pages of a book. Reading, like writing, may appear to be a solitary experience but, it is actually a shared encounter between the reader, the text and those who created the book. I believe that the book is a safe place where, apart from discovering ourselves in it, we as readers can open up to different worldviews of others. In many instances, it leads us to spaces where we can think, ask questions and seek the truth.

I wish to share this belief, which has become an advocacy, first to our students and hopefully to anyone willing to open a book and discover that it is one of the safest place to be one's self and encounter adventures, challenges and risks in life. Thus, our theme for this summer's reading program is #readingwithoutwalls. 
Comfort Zone by Gene Luen Yang and a display of books promoting inclusivity, diversity and empathy
We are recommending books about inclusivity, diversity and empathy. We can also work together in identifying books that meet the academic and developmental needs of our Griffins. Kindly help us spread the word.
After setting up a spread of books for recommendation and putting up our library bulletin board campaigning for #readingwithoutwalls, the email was the next step in the process. By next week, I will be making an announcement during the school Assembly on the Summer Reading Program for 2017.

Reading Programs are best implemented with the help of the community. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child.

The 2017 Alcala Prize Winner

Here is the official press release of the PBBY on the winners of the 2017 Alcala Prize.
Art Student Bags 2017 PBBY-Alcala Prize

This year’s PBBY-Alcala Grand Prize winner is art student Sophia Lorraine Demanawa, from the Ateneo De Manila University. Demanawa is studying Information Design and is an active member of Blue Indie Komiks (BLINK). She earned the judges’ unanimous vote for her “fresh” portrayal of Genaro Gojo Cruz’s  Dalawa Kami ni Lola. Gojo Cruz’s story bagged the 2017 PBBY-Salanga Prize. Aside from illustrating, Demanawa also enjoys making comics, designing gig posters, and writing poetry.

Four other illustrators were chosen as Honorable Mention: Arade Louise Villena, Mary Grace Theresa Dulawan, Christian Oliver Cruz, and Irene Rose Buenaventura.

The winners will be awarded at the National Children’s Book Day (NCBD) celebration on July 18, 2017 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

For inquiries about the contest and the NCBD celebration, contact the PBBY Secretariat at telephone number 352 6765 loc 204 or e-mail
 Below are the entries of Ms. Demanawa that wowed the judges of this year's Alcala Prize.

What an intimate portrayal of a relationship between lola and apo!

The contrast of colors, orange and blue, sucks you in the moment of rest and motion.

Warm, endearing, sentimental. Pinoy na Pinoy!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Book News: 2nd Printing and New Bookmarks

My Daddy, My One and Only has been reprinted! I learned about this good news from my publisher via Facebook (where else do you get "breaking news" these days but in social media, right?). I have one copy of the first print and, yes, I am getting myself a copy of the second reprint!

And since Jomike Tejido and I finished another book, here's a look at our promotional bookmark. Super thanks to Mennie Ruth Viray for the design and layout.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

#ReadingWithoutWalls (1 of 2)

Free comic: Comfor Zone by Gene Luen Yang
I follow YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) over at Twitter and it was there where I found Comfort Zone, a short comic by Gene Luen Yang.

The story seems autobiographical. A young Gene Luen Yang, considered an oddity by his peers finally found a place and space to stand out at computer camp. There he meets a friend and the approval of his peers. When a new kid comes along, they pick on him and his annoying habits. What comes around goes around? Bullying is a vicious cycle. Who ever said revenge is sweet? The young Gene Luen Yang doesn't think so as he felt remorse for an unkind act that haunted him for years.

Now, as the National Ambassador of YA Literature and Teen Tech Week 2017 in the US, Gene Luen Yang spends his time and acclaimed success as graphic comic creator helping teachers and librarians of young people grow in compassion and empathy. Indeed, none us is too old or too young to turn in a new leaf, to start a dream or set forth a new goal.

The social media campaign, #ReadingWithoutWalls is the punch at Comfort Zone's ending. YALSA and Mr. Yang invites and encourages everyone to:
* Read a book with a character who doesn't look or live like you.
* Read a book about a topic you don't know much about.
* Read a book in a format you don't normally read for fun.
Visit the Children's Book Council for more freebies: posters, PDFs of fliers and brochures. The reading program and campaign began last year during Teen Read week, but like what I said earlier, it is never too late to do a good deed, to dream a new dream or to set a new goal. Better late than never!

Go to the YALSA website too. It is also a good source to find out more about Gene Luen Yang and the #ReadingWithoutWalls social media campaign.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Teacher and School Librarian Collaboration: Search Strategies for Grade 9 (1 of 2)

Print sources, primary and secondary
Early in April, our grade 9 English teacher requested for a library session on search strategies and information sources. The timing couldn't have been any better since this batch of grade 9 students are preparing for the Personal Project that will start early in the first term of academic year 2017-2018.

The Personal Project is an interest based project that students in 10th grade are expected to finish to cap off their learning in the Middle Years Program. The project may take the form of a website about ADHD or cancer awareness, a livelihood program of Macrame products, a self designed fitness program, a compilation of songs composed and sung, a prototype of a drip system for a hydroponic garden, a self-help book on surviving high school life, a notebook made from recycled paper to be sold as fund raiser for a favorite charity. The list is endless and the only limitation is the student's creativity and imagination. Parameters are set, of course, and this is where the IB guides come in.

That is another story. Back to the library lesson.

Since the context has been laid down, I intended to extend the lesson beyond the Personal Project by introducing the basics, at the same time, open windows of possibilities.

What students get from the library session must be something they can use in other tasks and can be translated into skills that will further help them fashion sophisticated ways and processes of thinking. For example, learning about Boolean search strategies can lead to critical and creative thinking especially in the use of words. From simple key words, students can scale up to use synonyms for their search terms, and eventually develop a built-in, internal thesaurus. As a librarian, I may be giving them a session on searching online databases and search engines, but with constant use -- and consistency -- students, in time, can grow a vocabulary that they can use according to a subject matter; a vocabulary they can use to search for answers and derive meaning from a variety of media and technology.

Search Tips ala-Google
A basic knowledge of the most popular search engine in town, Google, can lead to an exploration of other search engines that present data in numbers, graphics and semantic web. Search engines crawl for websites, images, videos, PDFs, slides and databases based on key words used. Knowing different search engines and what information it can give back is another strategy that can grow into skills in selection and location on the appropriate use of technology.

What would make this possible is the regular team teaching effort and initiative between teacher and the school librarian. If this is impossible, at least, an intervention of the school librarian to remind teachers on the use of strategies in searching for information online or in print environments need to happen. The intervention can be done through announcements, meetings, in-service training, information campaigns in physical and virtual spaces of the library that are accessible to the members of the learning community. That is why, a matrix or a manual of research skills is essential. More on this in another post.

So where did I begin?

I asked for a copy of the English teacher's unit plan. And boy, did I learn lots along the way as well!~

Friday, May 5, 2017

My Blog is a #milclicks Space!

Starting this month, I will be posting in the blog, at least once a week, #milclicks tips, lessons and reflections gleaned from the Media and Information Literacy MOOC that I am currently enrolled in. The MOOC is a non-degree course, but a self directed learning program. If you are interested in learning more about MIL alongside a group of people, click the MOOC link and you are on your way to making it!

I have only begun the first unit and already, I have encountered new terms, concepts and ideas. One concept that struck me is "cultural pluralism". It is a huge philosophical concept and one that I keep at the back of my head. Basically, it is defined as the dynamic between a minority interacting in a bigger society. One cultural group, though small can co-exist with a larger, more dominant culture.

Libraries, being community hubs, extending services and programs to different members of the community are ideal spaces for the practice and promotion of cultural pluralism. How do we know our libraries are doing so? A few examples come to mind.

The Human Library of the De La Salle Library Systems is an example. For several years now, the Human Library brings together people from different cultural, political and social groups to talk about their experiences and life stories. It breaks down walls and create bridges of understanding and tolerance. Teresita Ang See and Etta Rosales have been guest speakers of the Human Library.

Cultural pluralism can also manifest in a library's collection. By including titles representing indigenous groups, LGBT communities and religious groups, readers can afford to accommodate a safer space in their minds and hearts the basic nature of such groups of people. This is, I think, a leveling up of bibliotherapy services. Not only can we seek self knowledge through books and reading, but we also gain an understanding of the bigger world and its peoples.

We can stock our shelves, virtual and physical ones, titles that are diverse and multicultural, promoting peace and tolerance. We can create programs that encourage kindness and empathy. There have been social campaigns on this, however, it is not called cultural pluralism. Check #weneeddiversebooks and #ReadingWithoutWalls. The later is an initiative of the Young Adult Librarians Association where in Gene Luen Yang, the US National Ambassador for YA Literature, created a comics for the campaign.

Starting with the library's collection and a knowledge of the community it serves, librarians can create programs and services that are inclusive and culturally pluralistic.
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