Friday, August 31, 2018

Selecting Stories for Kids for Kids to Read

I received a request for interview from Prof. Johann Frederick "Igor" Cabbab for his dissertation on Children's Literature. It is a long document and it needs time to answer the questions. I have been going back and forth on the document because in a way, it is a review of the current children's literature the country has published. As of writing, I have called friends from the book industry to help out.

For the meantime, allow me to share with you a snippet of the interview. This is with permission from Prof. Igor, of course.

To start off, when you choose a storybook for acquisition, for referral to parents, or recommended reading for kids, or for use in storytelling... Are there any criteria involved? I mean in terms of institutional / environmental concerns? Individual concerns? Thematic drives? Things like that. 
Of course there will always be criteria, especially when selecting books for children. The criteria I set for the selection of children’s books vary in terms of context, purpose and function. Form or genre is also important. I think these are my blanket or conceptual criteria: context, purpose, form and function. 
Context would be the readers or the intended audience. Purpose is the why of the book. Function is the what is it for of the book. Form is the genre, media, technology or literary trope. The book is, in itself the form, or the technology. So I would further categorize them as picture book, graphic novel, middle grades book, chapter book, YA novel, hybrid books, etc.  
Of the four, it is context that is at the top of my list. I value my readers. 
Who are my readers? Why am I selecting books for them? Why this book at this particular stage of their development? What is the book for? Of what use is the book in their lives, in general? How will this book matter in their lives? How will it affect them? What are its possible effects or impact? These are some of the questions I ask myself when selecting, recommending and acquiring books for children. 
These questions are latched on learned concepts and principles in Reading Education, Developmental Psychology, Media Studies, Information Literacy, a formalist’s stance on selecting and reviewing of literature, and Ranganathan’s 5 Laws of Librarianship, especially laws 1, 2 and 3. Books are for use. Every reader his/her book. Every book its reader.
Lastly, there is CULTURE. CULTURE is everything.
It’s not a criterion, but a bigger concept where in the four criteria fit in and the disciplines merge and combine. It is a great challenge to select and acquire books for kids in communities where reading, book and library culture are very weak.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A School Library and Art Building Grow in Quezon City (2 of 2)

One of the many pleasant experiences Zoe and I had last summer was the visit we had at the College of Fine Arts in the University of the Philippines in Diliman. Super thanks to Ruben "Totet" de Jesus, who patiently and proudly showed us around the CFA compound as well as the new building.

The CFA compound is art. It speak, breathes and lives ART!

Works of students, teachers and professors are all around. I couldn't tell the difference. Imagine studying and learning alongside your peers and mentors, how enriching this environment could be. Totet de Jesus made this even more evident when he showed Zoe the art works exhibited in the gallery at that time. A true mentor, Totet listens and guides. The trip to the old CFA compound ended with a visit to its college library.

Heading to the new CFA building which was still in construction at the time, I could not help but feel nostalgic. The new building was spacious and very modern. The main entrance opens to a big hall. Isang malaking bulwagan! The new building offers and promises a lot of spaces for art to do and to fill in. The glass panelings and open doorways to a view of the main road from Philcoa inspires creative minds to wonder and think of possibilities.

In this time of conflict, art finds a way to show solutions to problems, to inspire and dream, to protest and to chronicle history, past and present. Here's wishing the CFA all the best! May their community of creatives, dreamers an innovators increase! 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Total Physical Response Storytelling Plan

Nina Balingit, a college student from De La Salle University Manila, asked for feedback on her storytelling lesson plan that follows the Total Physical Response Storytelling (TPRS). Here's what I told her.

My thoughts on your lesson plan: 
1. The lesson plan follows a methodology anchored on principles of language learning and acquisition. 
2. The lesson plan shows an awareness of its context, students who are in the K-3 levels. There is provision for schema development. 
3. Questions are well thought out. I found many of the questions repetitive and literal but these have merits for mastery and disciplined thinking. Can you still give room for questions that infer and predict? 
4. Review, if you still have the time, the language used. Some Filipino words are not in the colloquial language. Too formal. Simplify and appropriate as necessary. 
5. In assessing the listening experience, is it possible to give students time to talk about their drawings and output? Consider giving activities that will allow students to retell the story in their own words. 
It’s a good lesson plan, over all, but I would have wanted to see an equal distribution of reading and writing activities.  
Good luck and thanks!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Call for Entries: the 2019 PBBY-Salanga Prize

The Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) is now accepting entries for the 2019 PBBY-Salanga Prize. The winner shall be given a cash prize of P25,000.00, a gold medal, and an opportunity to be published. Prizes will be awarded in an appropriate ceremony to be held during the celebration of National Children’s Book Day on July 16, 2019. This year’s theme is narrative nonfiction.

The contest rules are as follows:

1. Open to all Filipino citizens except those who are related to any PBBY member up to the third degree of consanguinity.

2. Content should be intended for children aged 8–12. The content must be capable of sustaining an illustrated book.

3. Topic must be about narrative nonfiction (e.g. historical nonfiction, biographies).

4. Citing of sources and research materials used is a must. Citations should include the name of the author, the title of the resource, the publisher and the year of publications. URLs for online sources should be cited as well.

5. Entries may be in Filipino or English.

6. Entries must be in hard copy, double-spaced, on short bond paper. Each entry must be 2,000-5,000 words long.

7. A contestant may send in up to three (3) entries.

8. Contestants who envision their works to come with special features (e.g. photos, maps, timelines, infographics) should include a write-up on these special features. The write-up should be 1,000 words or less.

9. Each entry must be signed by a pen name only. Five (5) copies of each entry should be placed in an envelope, on the face of which only the pen name of the contestant should appear.

9. Together with each entry, contestants must submit a second envelope, on the face of which the pen name shall appear. This must contain the contestant’s full name, address, contact numbers, a short literary background, and a notarized certification from the author, vouching for the originality of the entry and for the freedom of the organizers from any liability arising from the infringement of copyright in case of publication, and affirming that the entry or any variant thereof has (a) never been published nor (b) won any other contest i.e. that it has never won 1st, 2nd, 3rd, honorable mention in any other contest or otherwise been awarded a medal, a citation, or included in a publicized list of meritorious entries to a literary contest.

10. All entries must be sent through snail mail to the PBBY Secretariat, c/o Adarna House, Inc., Scout Torillo cor. Scout Fernandez Sts., Barangay Sacred Heart, Quezon City.

11. All entries must be received by the PBBY Secretariat no later than 5:00 p.m., December 8, 2018.

12. Winners will be announced no later than February 2, 2019. Non-winning entries will be disposed of by the PBBY Secretariat.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Author of the Month: Becky Bravo, Salanga Prize Winner 2018

Becky Bravo accepting her 1st Salanga last NCBD
Becky Bravo shares with us her thoughts on writing awards, writing about sensitive topics for kids, her favorite books and the book she wished she had written.

1. What is your belief or perception about writing awards, winning and losing in writing contests?

To someone like me who isn’t really good for anything else but writing, an award is a most welcome recognition of the quality of my work, a confirmation of my capacity to write something outstanding now and then.  Whenever I win an award, it tells me that I didn’t make a mistake in choosing to become a writer.  Whenever I lose, I can’t help but take it very badly, but it’s helpful to remember that one can’t always write the perfect story every time, and with every different set of judges comes a different set of tastes and preferences.  As soon as I get over losing, I work up the resolve to try again, and hope that I have better luck the next time.  

2.  Depression is a dominant theme in Ang Alaga Kong Bakulaw, a topic that is relevant but not so much explored in Philippine Children's Literature. How did you approach the writing of the story with a subject such as depression?

I didn’t actually intend on writing a story about depression.  It just started with me finding the word ‘bakulaw’ funny, and then the title “May Alaga Akong Bakulaw” popped into my head.  I guess you could say that I wrote the entire story around that title, and it evolved quite on its own into a story about a young man in so much in misery that he stopped taking care of himself and began to look like a cave monster to a little girl with a fertile imagination.  I am no stranger to depression, and perhaps it’s a theme that was bound sooner or later to show up in one of my stories.  Not all people who suffer from depression manifest it in the same way; in the case of Robert, he wears his misery on his sleeve.  Other people are pretty good at hiding theirs.  But if there’s anything depression sufferers all have in common, it’s the need of support and understanding, wherever and whoever it may come from.  It is a monstrous difficulty to pull through a period of depression all alone, but having people who reach out to you no matter how strange you’ve become helps you keep the sadness from swallowing you up completely.  

Becky Bravo with friends. 
3.  What are your five favorite children's books of all time?

I can’t say that these are my absolute all-time favorites because are lots of books that I haven’t read, and my preferences change depending on what sort of mood I’m in, but off the top off my head these are five books I wouldn’t mind rereading for the nth time: The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling (The Sorcerer’s Stone in particular), The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus, and The Happy Prince and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde.  Oops, that’s six :)

4.  What is the story, for kids or for young adults, you wish you have written?

Which story do I wish I had written?  From the six titles I gave in question number three, definitely “The Happy Prince”.  No matter how many times you’ve read it before, it always hits you straight in the heart. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Lighthouse Diary Entry 9: One Step Backward Before the Big Leap

It’s holiday today but, I am working. 

I am reviewing materials I used for the #milclicks sessions done a year ago and farther back. It helps me to look back, to take a few steps backward before jumping in the work that is required at present. I do this to establish context and to set directions. I call this reflection. Coming into an awareness of where things are and where I am. 

So, I had a session on using and choosing keywords with the grade 9s last year. They are now in 10th grade, poised to do the Personal Project. They gave out interesting feedback as to how the library helped them in 9th grade during our Library orientation. I get the feeling that they are ready for robust thinking processes.

Where do we go from here, grade 10? I think I need to see the Personal Project Coordinator.

Our current grade 9s are scheduled to have their library scavenger hunt next week. It’s a tradition already! Like a prerequisite course. A priming activity that I plan and work with the CRe teacher. My review prompts me to do a digital library scavenger hunt using our online subscriptions and yes, Google. There are a lot of metadata structures there and search strategies are skills necessary to navigate and understand the layering of data and the expansion of information systems. And somewhere in the back of my mind is the result of the grade 9s’ assessment test of their research and information literacy skills. Another data that will inform me of their skills and context.

I need to organise!

What activities have I come up with for library scavenger hunt? Here are links to each.

Library Scavenger Hunt (2016)
Library Talk and Scavenger Hunt (2015)

These posts are not about the scavenger hunt, but library lessons and activities in research and on media and information literacy skills. Key to the implementation of these lessons is the collaborative partnership with classroom teachers.

Teaching Grade 9 Students Search Strategies
Teachers and Teacher Librarians Working Together

Friday, August 17, 2018

IB School Librarians Reaching Out: Developing and Supporting the IB Programs

Sometime in July, I received this query from an IB School Librarian about developing the collection of the library and supporting the Diploma Program.

I would request you to guide me regarding the resources for my IB Library and my role in the extended essay.

Below was my response.

You can start by reading the EE Guide. There is a page in the guide dedicated to the Role of Librarians in the EE. As to developing the IB Library’s collection, you can begin by reviewing the DP Curriculum and the course offerings in your school. I do not acquire and manage textbooks, but develop a collection of books, e-resources that supports and supplements the courses we offer. I am also keen on growing a Teacher’s Resource Collection and manage a Google site of our library. 
Have you attended an online workshop or onsite workshop on the EE and library development? Having access to MyIB also helps. Outside IB, there are groups in social media composed of IB School Librarians. They are in Facebook, Twitter and even in Instagram. 
There is so much to learn in the IB and it’s an exciting place to be. Support and a professional learning network are readily available. 
Good luck!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Salaysayan 2018: A Reading Aloud and Storytelling Festival Post Script

These librarians performed The Old Taylor in Readers' Theatre 
The 2018 Salaysayan Reading Aloud and Storytelling Festival came to pass at the Museo Pambata last July 29, 2018 after being postponed due to bad weather last July 18, 2018.

There are really moments when all you needed to do is to trust the divine forces of the universe to put things in place. What I feared to be a Salaysayan of poor attendance turned out as the opposite!

Museo Pambata came in full support, as well as the storytellers who volunteered. Rey Bufi, Melai Ramirez and the National Library of the Philippines' Storytelling and Puppetry Troupe, Kuya Rich, Teacher Psalm, Teacher Mars and the UP Diliman Librarians of the Filipiniana Department headed by Roel Randilla, thank you to all of you for sharing your time and takents! You made 100 plus kids happier with your stories. To Teacher Motie Andal, we hope to have you again next time for a more intensive workshop on books, reading and supporting teachers and parents in their journey as literacy teachers to their kids in school and at home.

Our local book publishers didn't sell as much, but I thank you for ever supporting PBBY in all its endeavours!

Dear friends in the profession, Audrey Anday and Darrel Marco, with Eleanor Llave coming in as a surprise volunteer, your presence and friendship weigh more precious than gold. The PBBY ladies, Tarie Sabido, Fran Ong and Ani Almario who were with me from start to finish of the Salaysayan.

We can always do better next year!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Library Orientation 2018: On Students' Library Experiences

Because our themes for this year are EMPATHY, INCLUSION and DIVERSITY, the library orientation I prepared for my students in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 focused on their library experiences, past, present and the future. 

For grade 9, since they are new students coming in the Academy, I asked them of their ideas and concepts on what a library is. This is an assessment activity as well as a way of connecting what they know to the current library programs and services we have in the Academy. This was followed by the basic library protocols and guidelines. Circulation services, use of the Online Public Access Catalog, points of access when using the library's online databases and essential agreements in the library. These were all introduced to the new students but will be taken up in-depth in the subject and content areas through library sessions.

The grade 10s looked back at their library experiences from grade 9. Since they will be starting the year with their Personal Project (PP), I gave them a session on the use of our online subscriptions and how it can be of value to their research. It is an introductory session too, since the PP Coordinator and I have identified contact points and engagement activities focusing on research in the coming months.

The grade 11s had a Library Bingo that is very similar to a Library Scavenger Hunt. This is to prepare them for the library session scheduled for them during Foundation Week (more on that in a separate blog). Closing the morning run of orientations, I presented the Reading Without Walls campaign to the grade 12s as well as possible library projects where they can participate in earning them Community, Action and Services hours.

The grade12s will soon leave the Academy to pursue their academic careers. Out there, they will experience libraries that are embedded in the system of community building and knowledge creation. Here's hoping that their last year with me as their Teacher Librarian will be an insightful and fruitful year of inquiry, research and sharing one's time and skills for literacy development.

Friday, August 10, 2018

School Library Themes and Bulletin Board for Academic Year 2018-2019

This academic year, I picked three themes to drum up and base our library programs and readers' services from. These are EMPATHY, INCLUSION and DIVERSITY. So, year round, we will be promoting books, services and library activities that promote these values.

We begin by setting up our library bulletin board. Here are the photos.

Libraries are for everyone is a campaign on diversity in libraries by Hafuboti. There are free PDFs and JPGs in her blog on Libraries are for everyone in different languages. The above photo is our take on the campaign. I chose seven languages commonly spoken in campus and Language subjects offered by the school. Acknowledging the varied languages spoken by members of the community is one step towards appreciating diversity.

The other side of the bulletin board carries the theme of inclusion. Books Bring People Together says it all. Below it is a table spread of books by Gene Luen Yang and the Reading Without Walls . It includes Luen Yang's comic, Comfort Zone, where in he tells the story of bullying and exclusivity he experienced in middle school. Click the link I shared for more activities and programming ideas. Come back here in the blog because, I will be sharing more tips and techniques on how we will execute Reading Without Walls in our school community.

Lastly, we used a portion of our bulletin board for the theme on empathy. Putting one's self in another's shoes begins by learning how to listen. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

MIBF 2018: Talk for Librarians on Inclusive and Diverse Library Programming and Services

Zarah Gagatiga will present global conceptual frameworks on inclusion and diversity in libraries as espoused by the International Federation of Library (IFLA), the American Library Association (ALA) and UNESCO. A localisation of these concepts and ideas will be discussed to establish context when sharing of best practices on inclusion and diverse programs and services in select Philippine libraries, reading centers and literacy and cultural agencies. Tips and techniques in diversifying the library collection and inclusive library services are included in the session. A mini-workshop will be conducted to end the session. Participants are encouraged to bring five children’s books, young adult novel or graphic novel, and a working knowledge of their library’s collection development plan and readers services protocol.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Library Bulletin Board: READ this Summer

Posting a photo of our bulletin board in the library before the new academic year commences.

Relax! Enjoy! Achieve! Discover! READ this summer.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Review: Book Donation Campaign

Kristle Mae Cavero, a senior from the College of Saint Benilde asked me to look at her media project. It is a multimedia production on book donations and a campaign for support. The production can be viewed through in the website and their growing community of book lovers and donors of books has a Facebook Page.

This is the link, so check it out.

It is a well thought out media production and the website is neatly designed. Trust Wordpress to help any blogger and web developer to achieve the sleek, smooth and professional look. Hands down, the technology works as medium of communication.

As for the content, I gave Ms. Cavero these comments.

It lacked information on specific reading demographics. While there was an attempt to relay the message of book matching and context based book donation, this was done in sweeping strokes. The Philippine literacy landscape is varied, multilingual and regional. A reading center or school in an urban community has different needs compared to centers and libraries in rural and indigenous communities. The community's needs to be addressed when donating books. 
A book is a technology. For many, formal instruction on its use and purpose is necessary to appreciate reading books. The same can be said in learning to read. Reading development begins in the access of books, but to sustain its continued growth and development formal teaching and pedagogy can contribute to the success of reading skills acquisition as well as lifelong learning.
Book lovers donate books because they have discovered the benefits and many advantages of reading and learning from the experience of opening the pages of a printed book. But, there are communities where, book and reading culture are not of their experience. Bring them books, but teach them first, how to read and how to understand the book as a technology.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Day of Art: Nostalgia and Hero Worship

In July, while school was out and the weather cooperated, Zoe and I went to UP Diliman to visit two museums that had very interesting exhibits. Before heading to Vargas Museum and the Bulwagan ng Dangal, we dropped by the College of Fine Arts (CFA) and met up with Sir Totet "DJ" De Jesus. He initiated us into the CFA's gallery where works of alumni were on exhibit. Furthermore, he gave ua a tour of the entire college including the new building. More on this in future posts.

We headed to the Bulwagan ng Dangal where Toym Imao's art installations were on exhibit.

It. was. AWESOME.

Mixing Japanese robot heroes, Voltes V and Mazinger Z, with Philippine heroes and the infamy of Ferdinand Marcos and wife Imelda, Imao's work is like an eat all you can buffet. Scan the entire table and pick what to eat. His huge installations can overwhelm the senses.  But if taken in by bits and pieces, looking at and examining the tiny parts that make up the whole, his art prompts the viewer to look at relationships big and small. The message is not at all lost in his art installations. It magnifies the personal experiences of looking up at our heroes and being tricked or fooled by another. Super Robot + Super Reboot challenges us to examine our definitions of heroes and the beliefs we hold true at a time when villains are clothed in capes or robotic powers.

After an hour spent at Bulwagan, we went to Vargas for CANVAS' Tumba-Tumba: Children's Museum of Philippine Art.

With it's press release, I was expecting a Museo Pambata feel. Bright. In the now. Safe for kids. It was the exact opposite. A few game boards and interactive art activities did not convince me that the exhibit is for children. It celebrates childhood memories and the nostalgia it brings. The art is amazing, that's for sure. But I found it appealing to an adult's sensibilities of bygone years.

At the end of the day, kids art or not, it was what our souls needed.
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