Friday, November 30, 2018

Judging the 2018 National Book Week Essay Writing Contest 2 of 2

To cap off this month's blog posts, here is part 2 of the post on the National Book Week 2018 Essay Writing Contest where I continue sharing tips for writing coaches and mentors of students.

Here are my top five tips.

1. Know the rules. And consequently, ways of breaking them. When you follow rules to the book, where is room for creativity? In contests, contestants and participants can challenge the organisers and the status quo by showing a new insight, perspective or a way of doing things. It is a risk but one that is worth taking.

2. Know your purpose for joining in the contest and in coaching the student. Are you doing this to win or to teach and mentor? Which comes first, winning or mentoring? Your priority will define the future of your student and yours as well as teacher and mentor.

3. Do your research. Research on everything - past entries and winners of previous contests, issues relevant to the theme, new trends in writing styles and formats of contests.

4. Know your student, his or her skills, competencies and attitude towards the contest. It would help if you can also do a reading skills inventory with your student since reading and writing skills are sparing partners.

5. Know what essay to write and one that is applicable or suitable to the theme. A narrative and descriptive essay may be too personal and may miss out important points of the theme. A persuasive essay may need a lot of research. An opinion piece must show informed decisions that is well researched.

PLUS one more: Guide our student as he or she go through the writing process. Better if you and your student have designed a model of the writing process to follow.

Lastly, here are sources for teachers who are coaching mentoring students in their writing journey.

Teaching High School Students to Write - this is your toolkit for teaching, mentoring and coaching writing to high school students. The guide is produced and published by the Institute of Education Sciences (2016) and it has plenty of strategies and recommendations!

Time for Writing: The Essay - this is an online course for students and teachers who wish to attack learning writing as a process.

Becoming a Writing Coach - I am big believer of research-into-practice approach so here is a study on how teachers became better at teaching writing to middle school and high school students.

So, happy reading! Happy writing! It can be cognitive torture, but the benefits when the struggles are overcome are many and long term!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Bibliotherapy: Come! Weave With Us!

My talk on Bibliotherapy at the Benitez Hall, College of Education in UP Diliman last November 8, 2018 turned out to be an inspiring and life affirming session. I was with friends from the UP READING Department, kindred spirits and partners in the advocacy for literacy development. Years ago, our battle cry was to instill a genuine love for books and reading. Today, while this aim remains true, we are in agreement on the power of stories and children’s literature to heal and to build empathy. 

There has been a lot of talk going on about books for children dealing with sensitive topics. By this I mean the following issues that have not been fully explored in years past. Incest. Child abuse. Gender issue and biases. Extra Judicial Killings. Child pornography. Dynsfynctional family. Same sex marriage. Sexuality ans sexual preferences. HIV infection. We are living in exciting and dangerous times indeed! These events, trends and movements in literature and the changing times give us reason to improve teaching strategies and the delivery of effective library services and programs for children. We teach skills for comprehension, yes. But we also need to select, evaluate and offer books and stories that show care and compassion.

Comments from the participants were aplenty. How concerned they were of access to books in areas where libraries and bookstore are few and far between. Why isn’t there any national guideline on reading? While there are many localised efforts to advocate literacy and its many benefits, resources and teaching materials are still scarce. That is reason enough to keep reading, writing and teaching! It was a comfort to know from Teacher Hazel Preclaro how the department reaches out to communities in Quezon City for book donation initiatives, tutorials, read aloud sessions and storytelling enounters. It should be clear by now that, in education, one’s job and contribution to the country is unending. 

Then, we need to inspire and mentor more teachers and librarians to believe in the magic of stories. Come! Weave with us! 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Pilgrim's Pit Stop: Living in the Now

Of the many things I learned in my years of being active in Magis Deo, it is the acknowledgement that God is present in my life. Thanks to the teachings during Community Celebrations and the offerings of recollections and Ignatian Retreats by Magis Deo, what seemed to be an abstract and surreal is made real by praying the Examen every day, journaling, reflection and attendance to prayer workshops. These formation activities deepened my relationship with God. What gives me comfort and grace in prayer is always the discovery of living in the now with God beside me.

This recognition of God as my constant companion, caring and forgiving, humorous and kind eases my worries. I worried a lot back in the day. But with this newfound image and relationship with Him, I learned to worry less. I learned to pray on my worries.

And amazingly, God replies in more ways than one. A call or private message (PM) from dear friends who read one of my cryptic social media post. A good news from the eldest who lives away in college. The sun shining in the morning after days of heavy rain. The tree frog that rests languidly on a branch of our avocado tree. The butterflies that circle the white flowers growing in our front yard. Even the sun setting and spraying the sky colors of pink and indigo is God's way of saying, rest now Zarah, for tomorrow, we battle on together.

Once, my boss had the kindness and humility to make me an espresso during "hell" week in school. She knows coffee would calm me down. God was there at that moment when she handed me the cup of hot espresso. It was God telling me to chill and that the line dividing supervisor and subordinate is a man-made law. In the end of all the deadlines and deliverables, we are all hard working people who need a break. I see God in my daughter who takes candid pictures of me when I am in a pensive mood. I am assured. There is someone who will constantly keep an eye out for me. When BCGG prayer companions patiently listen to my reflections and recurring struggles, God is there listening too. Even in the spats and quarrels I have with my husband, petty or serious it may be, God is there shaking, disturbing and awakening us.

At times when I feel He is far away, too distant to be reached and felt, or missing in the little and simple events of daily life, I go back to this memory I have of God as a warm energy embracing me. This happened in a silent retreat I had with the help of a lay formator from the Center for Ignatian Spirituality at San Jose Seminary. That was a powerful experience!

This was five years ago and the feeling remains clear in my mind. This I know. God is here. God is in the now.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

IASL and PASLI 2019 Conference

Lifted from the Facebook Page of PASLI and helping them spread the word on this international conference in Manila in April 2019.

PASLI in partnership with IASL invites you to the IASL's 5th Regional Workshop for School Libraries in Southeast Asia & PASLI's 41st National Conference and General Assembly on April 24-26, 2019. See you in MANILA!

Program (Draft)

Call for Papers

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Judging the 2018 National Book Week Essay Writing Contest 1 of 2

This week, the winners of the National Book Week contests will be awarded at a special ceremony in Gateway Gallery in Cubao. Congratulations to all the winners! 

It was my first time to judge in one of the contests which was the Essay Writing Contest. My co-judges and I read through 60 entries and after four hours, deliberations included, we were ready to submit the winners.

In general, the entries followed a template of lofty ideals presented in one main idea and supported by details. Written by high school and senior high school students from different regions in the country, I had a glimpse of the students’ experiences of libraries, books and reading. Their stories are poles apart. Some essays show a rich expoaure to books while many reflect the scarcity of reading materials. I also had a sense of the level of writing skills of students of today. Essays with strong voices stood out as well as ones that are well structured. There are essays that are too personal, it missed the discussion of the NBW theme. On the other hand, there are essays that discuas big ideas related to the theme that lacked the authenticity of a high school student’s experience. At some point, I wonder who the student writer is writing for and does he or she know her purpose for writing the essay more so, joining a nationwide competitionz

I think these things need to be established early on. Writers write for themselves, yes, and this has to be processed and discussed with the student. Because, while this is true, writing is an art of communication. In my writing workshops with teenagers and adulrs, I begin by asking them existential questions: 

Who are you? 
Why do you write? 
What is your message or story?
What do you know that is worth sharing with others?

Wirting is personal and writers reach out to the world by communicating their stories and their knowledge. 

It is also important to know how to communicate one’s message and story. Enter craft, use of language and the mechanics of writing. This is the hard part. So, a writing process and model are set up so students will not be lost. If ever they wander away, which is often the case, then the process and model come in handy to bring them back to focus. 

Writing is a complicated cognitive activity. Students need mentors. While they have teachers, librarians can come in the picture and help teachers mentor students in the writing journey.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Tips, Tools & Tech for the Busy Teacher: Asking Questions & Human Rights Education in Math

Our library is subscribed to the digital and print format of Mathematics Teaching Middle School (MTMS) and Mathematics Teacher (MT), publications of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Of course, these resources were requested by our Math teachers a few years back and since then, they have been using the magazines and journals for teaching and instruction. What I like about MT and MTMS is that it has articles that discuss mathematics conceptually.

Take for example the issue of MT last October 2018. It has a discussion on human rights, human rights education and how allocation of resources like food production can be taught through math. Food is an experience common to all, likewise the access to food supply is a basic human right. Food shortage is a global problem. In an article by Blair Izard, Teaching Human Rights Through Mathematics, these personal and global issues on food are discussed with matching equations to show data and numbers that establish reason, logic and clarity. Honestly, my comprehension reached a bottle neck when Izard presented a set of equations. I leave that to the Math teachers!

What really piqued my interest was Izard's methods of discussion before engaging students in the equations she shared in the article. She began with the question: When will a community first experience a shortage of food? This led her students to wonder and ask for more information like, population and the amount of food a country produces. This led her to draw out more questions from her students and even added hers to the discussion such as,  what is one way a country could potentially run out of food? and what information would you need to know to determine whether a country might run out of food?

Allowing her students to understand the needed information to answer the questions, she provided the information on population and food supply. After which, she presented the equations so they can solve for answers together. There is further explanation on her methods and how in the middle and at the end of the class, they were still in discussion of their answers. There are concepts in the lesson as well as mathematic skills, drills and cooperative and collaborative experiences for students.

Asking questions and techniques to facilitate this experience in a math class is also a featured article in MTMS as the October Issue highlights three best practices on teaching inquiry. These are: funneling, focusing and IRE.

Funneling is the technique teachers use through sequencing questions to lead students to a specific answer or conclusion. Focusing is a strategy where the teacher listens to students and their questions, helps them think through their questions and encourages them to press on the important ones so that their thinking is guided towards answering or finding solutions to it. IRE is an acronym that stands for Inquire, Respond and Evaluate. Teacher inquires on a topic, a concept, a math equation and students respond by answering the teacher through discussions, drills, models and even more questions. Teacher then evaluated the response using a pre-determined criteria or standards.

These are higher order thinking skills that need to be done on a regular basis. Integrating this in class as a thinking routine or a method of inquiry that will help build students' critical thinking skills as well as their emotional stamina. Note that the teacher is always present in the strategies,  techniques and methods presented. This only goes to show that teachers do teach concepts and skills, but they are companions of students in the journey of inquiry and thinking processes.

Now I am beginning to look at Math from a different perspective!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Dear School Librarian In Action: Working with Teachers

Here is part 2 of my conversations with school librarians of Raya School where we talked about working with teachers and sealing collaborative projects.

3. My priority in buying books for the library are the titles that teachers need for their lessons. However, it is not often that teachers suggest titles due to their busy schedule. Is there any possible guide that I could follow in acquisition of books?

This has been partly answered in number 2. Teachers will always put their teaching hat first. Some teachers may not recognize or admit that they need support, yet, they do. Librarians can lend that support.

In lesson planning, teachers identify learning materials, references and instructional aids. What are listed in that part of their lesson plan? Knowing what’s there can be a starting point to creating a Possible Purchase File. This is your record of resources to acquire sooner or later. Also, find a way to engage teachers in conversations about their learners and teaching practices that work. This will inform you of media and technology to set up, maintain and organize in the library for teacher's use. Have a Kapihan sa Aklatan, open a social media account for the library if your school allows this to promote library learning resources from print, online to maps, infographics and other visuals.

Over the years, I have documented and blogged about activities and projects that school librarians and teachers can do. Go to Teacher and Librarian Collaboration.

4. I give simple prizes such as stickers and bookmarks to those who frequently borrow books in the library. This works for those who are already frequent users in the library but how could I reach those seldom visit the library?

Hmm… what grades do you handle? You can approach reading promotion by grade levels, for example, K-3, middle grades, junior high and senior high. Consider their reading developmental levels in promoting books and the use of the library. Also think of what the library can offer them aside from books. Are the senior high students stressed from academics? Set up a stress buster or Makerspace that has art and crafts activities. Display books and resources about arts and crafts to go along with it. Storytelling is a MUST, especially in K-3 and changes focus somehow in the middle grades.

Reading promotions can be a program you can create but it is anchored on your collection development program and your three year library development plan.

For a bigger picture of the many hats that school librarians can wear, read this post on Reading Advocacy . This doesn't mean a librarian must play all the roles at one time, or that he/she is all that. Librarians are people in the school community and those they work with need to know and recognize that. That is part of our work also - help them see what we can do to support them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Ebooks and Cloud Computing in the School Library

Technology and its specific applications in library work are not my skills of expertise. But, I sure know how to work and coordinate a project with people. So, when our library information systems needed an upgrade, I called on Romy Sebastian to help us again.

Romy Sebastian has a history with the Beacon Academy Library. He has seen us through three systems upgrades. From LIBRO to PLATONICXZ to MyRIZAL, Romy has stayed on course assisting us with the utmost understanding of a librarian who knows his technology. Now, we are considering the cloud version of the system but first things first: migration of our Online Public Access Catalog to a new web host.

L-R: Josef Halos of EBSCO, me and Romy Sebastian

I am excited at this migration project since my staff and I will be given a control of the administration panel 24/7, web page design and real time updating of the database. I promise to post in the blog our progress.

On the same day Romy was in school, Josef Halos of EBSCO came by as well. His purpose was to teach us how to access and use the ebook functionality of EBSCO. We have been dilly-dallying on this, because honestly, the package is pretty expensive. Josef Halos gave us a month of trial for the ebooks but I know, it will take me another month more to do the budgeting. 

Needless to say, a librarian’s work is not done in isolation (similar to writing a story and creating a book). Much has been said and written about the library being the heart of the school or the institution. These days, it has become the lifeblood of an organization. 

Dear School Librarian In Action: The Benefit of Print and Planning a School Library Development Plan

I was fortunate to meet School librarians of the Raya School early this month. We had a fascinating and interesting conversation about students, the way they learn and read books, and the work librarians do to help teachers. Here are questions that have kept them awake at night. This is part 1 so come back to the blog for part 2!

1. With the emergence of information technology we have today, I wonder if it is still relevant to teach students how to use the dictionary if they could just google or use an online dictionary instead.

Yes. Print is still relevant because, it promotes and keeps the reading experience alive particularly, long and deep reading. These are the kinds of reading the human brain needs to function well. Ebooks and online sources rob the brain of so many things, and one is the development of a physical memory. Print provides that physical landscape so that the brain’s capacity to remember becomes stronger. Print is good for MEMORY and REMEMBERING.

Second, we need to provide different forms of media to our readers because they learn in varied ways. Their modalities for learning is not one dimensional. Learning through visuals may be strong for one person, but his/her aural skills do not mean it is non-function at all. So, develop whole brain learning by providing an array of learning materials and employing varied and appropriate instructional strategies.

The availability of online references provide ease of access to information. Print sources help in retention and in stretching one’s attention span. Both are cognitive skills needed to navigate and understand different media formats and technology.

2. There was a time where grade 6 students borrowed reference materials in the library so they could practice citing of sources for their AP class. There was also a time where grade 4 students searched for "pabula" in the library for their Filipino class.

I know that one of the library's main roles in the school is provision of books to the students for the enrichment of their learning but what else could I do to help?

Notice that the information needs of your students differ from one grade to another. Why is it that grade 4 students are searching for pabula? Why reference materials for grade 6? 

Know the students, the teachers who teach them, the school’s curriculum and pedagogy. From here, you can create a collection development plan. Then, budgeting comes into play. This is long term, progressing and continuous. A three year library development plan identifying targets and strategies need to be in place, as well as a library procedural manual.

Include a library instruction program or an Information Literacy program. This is ideally, integrated in the language arts skills program. So, work with teachers to make this happen.

Part 2 is all about collaborative work with teachers.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

CCP’s Thirteen Artists

A few weeks back, the fambam was in the Cultural Center of the Philippines to support the eldest’s music career. We were there, the three of us plus girlfriend and sister, to watch and cheer for the eldest and his acappella group compete in the 2018 Akapela Open International. Long story short, the group won the grand prize and it’s been a juggling act for each member, balancing academics and acappella guesting commitments.

On the side, our youngest was fortunate to catch the Thirteen Artists Exhibit before competition hours. She was immersed and impressed at the art works on display, and so was my husband. Here are three reasons why.

1. With art, you can be brave. The CCP’s thirteen artists courageously communicated their beliefs,  philosophy, and yes, political leanings. Theirs are a statement to what is wrong that needs to be right; a documentation to years of struggle; an eye opener to culture and religious beliefs that has crucified the country in poverty; an expression of escape; and a way to communicate big ideas that media could not and would not articulate. It is a well curated exhibit!

2. While the message and media used by the artists encompass universal truths, some “isms” that cannot be taken for granted especially in this political climate, their works are neither high nor low. Indeed, art must be for all!

3. The art works were all engaging. Goodbye to passivity. 

If you are in the area, go visit the CCP! Feed your soul. Wake up and disturb yourself!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Book Review: ACT Prep by Magoosh

As a high school librarian, I am always on the lookout for books and resources (in all media types) that will help students. The resources are many and varied so I need to assess, evaluate, select and communicate to students, and those who teach and care for them, the media, technology and information that will support their academic standings, college pathways and help them build skills for lifelong learning.

There is no one rule of thumb in this venture considering that students learn in different ways, styles and modalities. It is very important, thus, to have an array of resources, materials and services at the library's disposal to address student needs.

One specific need of high school students is preparation for college or "college prep" as our high school kids call it. This is a big deal for many students since the main goal of their high school education is to get in a university of their choice and one that best fit their talents, skills and competencies. It is a preparation that begins in kindergarten, in an ideal world. Such is not the case for all. So, help must be on the way at all times!

When I received an email to review a college prep handbook and guide in taking entrance exams for college acceptance, I was keenly interested. This may prove a worthy resources for our college counselors, senior high school teachers and our parents. Let me share with you the five wonderful things I discovered about ACT Prep by Magoosh.

1. It is written by a team of educators. Their names and credentials are in the introductory page for authorial presentation. SOP, yes but you would get the idea that learning is collaborative. The high school student who will use the guide and handbook is in the care of teachers who know how to work with others.

2. The language used to explain ACT prep, tips and strategies is very conversational, casual and easy to understand. The thought of taking a college admission test is reason for great anxiety. Reading this guide/handbook eases the worry by offering realistic tips, strategies and advice.

3. The content offers the reader a complete process of the college prep journey for the high school student in whatever grade or level he or she is at. It has text exercises and practice sheets in English, Reading, Writing, Math and Science.

4. The guide/handbook inspires independent learning, goal setting and discipline. There is a chapter that discuss and shows how goals and objectives can be met when taking tests, exams and applying for college. This may prove helpful for students whose intrinsic motivation is innate, but the counselor may need to come in for students who need more explicit ways of approaching college preps.

5. ACT Prep has many platforms of access and learning. It does not end with the ebook. Visit the website at Magoosh.

Now, I am off to share this news (not only to you, my dear readers) to our college counselors!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Book Review: The Formative Five

I received a book recommendation from our Guidance Counselor the other day. She recommended Dr. Michelle Borba’s Unselfie, a book that hopes to bring back empathy in our lives, in general, and in the lives of our children, in particular. Checking the book’s bibliograohic data and reviews online, I put in our possible purchase file. My staff is processing budget and costing as I write this.

So, while waiting for the acquisition of Borba’s book, Unselfie, I searched for books in our collection that discuss empathy. I found one that looked like a good match to our GC’s information need. 

I semt her my review and recommendation. Sharing with you, my dear readers, what I sent her.

Dear GC, here’s a book you may wish to browse or read: The Formative Five Fostering Grit, Empathy and other Success Skills Every Student Needs by Thomas R. Hoerr (2017). Chapter two is where Empathy is, how to grow and nurture it in the school, strategies for teachers to help students develop empathy, why listening is the at the core of empathy, tips for school leaders in support of teachers who build empathy in and out of the classroom. Integrity, self-control and diversity are the three success skills identified and discussed further in the book. Includes a self-assessment of the five success skills. 

The  book ends with an emphasis on culture as key in actualizing the formative five. Hoerr uses John Coleman’s 6 Components of Culture (Harvard, 2013) as gauge or indicators of success. These are Mission, Values, Practices, People, Narrative and Place. Hoerr takes on his administrator’s har in this chapter, but ends the book with a very humanist turn by drumming up the importance of relationships and what makes us happy being teachers and working with children and young people.

Our library OPAC is down, but you can always send an email for questions and sources. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

National Book Week 2018 Contest Winners

Lifted from the Facebook Page of the Philippine Librarians Association. With permission for posting from Darrel Marco, #NationalBookWeek2018 Chairperson.

Congratulations to the following nationwide winners of the NBW2018 contests. We received so many creative outputs  and these are the best:

1st place - Angel Blessy Fordan - Central Mindanao Colleges
2nd place - Jezelle Oliva - University of the Cordilleras
3rd place - Heizel Heins Martin - Nueva Ecija University of Science & Technology 

1st place - Natania Shay S. Du - Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu 
2nd place - Andrea Salvador - St Paul College - Pasig
3rd place - Gwyneth Dianne Zenarosa - Ateneo de Naga University 

1st place - Rouel Christian Piczon - Calbayog City National High School 
2nd place - Daryne Judy Chua - Hua Siong College of Iloilo 
3rd place - Judith Lobrio, Nina Balbin, Liezel Escoto, Angeline Basa - Eastern Samar National Comprehensive High School

Congratulations too and thank you dear librarians and RCs for all the help in promoting and making your own NBW events successful.

Winners will be awarded at the opening ceremony of the 84th National Book Week at the Gateway Gallery, Cubao in Quezon City on November 24, 2018.

*Next challenge is for librarians and regional councils to level up the game by mentoring and coaching more students, making them realize the importance of these contests, therefore, having more diversified, well-formed and superb entries!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

National Book Week 2018: Stories! Stories! Stories!

Darrel Marco explaining the judging mechanics
National Book Week begins on Saturday, November 24, 2018 and will end on Friday, November 30, 2018. NBW Chairperson Darrel Marco shares with us what makes this NBW celebration exciting, why libraries are all the more important in today's globally conflicted world, and compares NBW 2018 to Rhandee Garlitos'  Chenelyn! Chenelyn! (Adarna House)

 1. What makes NBW 2018 exciting?

Stories! Stories! And more stories!!! 

National Book Week 2018 this year is themed "Connected Actions, Collective Vision: Libraries transforming society".
I believe that it is thru the telling of stories that we can transform our society -- stories of struggles and hardships, stories of failures and downfalls, stories of hope and aspirations, stories of collaboration and cooperation, and stories of success and happy endings.

We are opening the 2018 National Book Week with a Reader's Theatre Contest and a Storytelling Festival on November 24, 2018 at the Gateway Gallery in Cubao, Quezon City. This is one successful story of collaboration between the PLAI and an NGO gearing towards the development and promotion of literacy in our society thru books and stories.
Another notable collaboration is among different regional librarian's councils working hand-in-hand with the Department of Education divisions to promote the National Book Week.
This year, we also introduced the nationwide Graphic Novel Making contest. Entries started pouring in from all over the Philippines since August, and this is aside from the usual Poster Making and Essay writing contests. Winners of these contests will be announced on the opening day, as well.

I think what makes this event exciting is the fact that this is not purely librarians' work but a collaborative effort of a community wanting to promote literacy. Some events and celebrations may have the flash and bangs but makes the NBW2018 special are those minute details that make the event more endearing to the public.
Entries for the Poster Making Contest
2. In light of the current political climate in the country and in the world, how do librarians and libraries factor in book development in the country?

The dawn of social media was a double-edged sword, with one side helping us to move forward thru easier and real-time communication, and with the other one shaking up our core value i.e. the truth. We are bombarded daily with deliberate disinformation in the forms of fake news, alternative facts and historical revisionism, and oftentimes people retaliate thru namecalling or smart-shaming. I say, let us go back to the facts -- i.e. the written and verified ones.

As librarians, we are supposed to be the gatekeepers of these facts. The library that is open to everyone -- the innocent, the accused, the victim, the abused and even to some extent, the criminals -- should be a bastion of social justice. We still have a long way to go in developing a learned nation that would go to books to seek for facts instead of social media but I am positive of the steps being taken to have a more media and information literate society. Additionally, there is also a sliver of hope that Philippine children's books today are tackling more radical and sensitive topics that were used to be considered as taboo.

The judges troop together for a photo op.
3. If you are to compare the NBW to a book, what is it and why?
In an ideal world, it would be The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Who doesn't love a beautiful butterfly as an ending, right?

But looking back, I would rather say, it's Chenelyn, Chenelyn by Rhandee Garlitos. 
Books are there whenever we need a friend or a helping hand, whenever we want to while away our time at the beach or at a coffee shop -- but we just realize their true importance once they are gone. We take for granted those books that are offered in front of us, given that we have social media, Netflix and technology.

I hope that books and technology would co-exist and would not go against each other. I mean if you could go watch one episode of RuPaul's Drag Race, then try to read one chapter of a book too, or even one short story, and you'll see that your life will change.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Book Reviews: The Demon Haunted World and Other Books on Disciplined Thinking

For the month of October, we sent this out to the community: a list of new titles and recommended books with my reviews.

A recommended title from the list is Carl Sagan's The Demon Haunted World (Ballantine Books, 1996). Sagan encourages the reader to make intelligent and informed decisions by turning to logic, reason and scientific research. His essays reflect his joy of debunking myths and pseudoscience with scientific explanations from years of  disciplined thinking across subject areas. On the one hand, he admits the limitations of scientific thought by saying that "it cannot advocate courses of human action but it can illuminate possible consequences of alternative  courses of action" (page 27). He weighs in scientific thinking with discipline and imagination positioning that both are essential to its successful application in the arts, mathematics, sciences and humanities.

Interestingly, this list of new acquisitions include Michael Michalko's ThinkerToys (Ten Speed Press, 2006) where the reader can access and acquire a host of creative thinking exercises and how it can push him/her to critical analysis; and then, there is the book Little Quick Fix: Research Question (Sage, 2018) by Zina O'Leary, emphasising the decision making skills that can be learned when preparing and identifying sources, reading them, documenting information and how a well crafted research question can lend focus and direction to students working on his/her academic paper.

Visit the blog for more book reviews and my sharing of wonderful titles in our library's collection!

Library and Information Services Month 2018: Ang Kulturang May Malasakit, Sa Silid-Aklatan Makakamit

Sunday, November 4, 2018

National Book Week 2018 Contests and Competitions

The Philippines celebrates two library and bookish events this month namely, the National Book Week (NBW) headed by the Philippine Librarians Association Inc (PLAI) and the Library and Information Services (LIS) Month as organized by the National Library of the Philippines (NLP). Yes, it is a very busy month for Filipino Librarians since all regional librarians association, public libraries, school and academic libraries are bent on organizing events, activities and projects on the occassions mentioned above.

It doesn’t end there.

The PLAI Congress is scheduled on November 20-23, 2018. If Filipino librarians are not affected by the senate’s decision to repeal the Continuing Professional Development Law, expect the attendance to double up from last year’s 900 plus participants. As dictated by tradition, a PLAI assembly usually takes place on November 30 as culminating event.

These celebrations are peppered with contests and competitions in between the days and weeks of stress and excitement. The PLAI, for one, has put together several contests for young people to partake in. This year’s NBW Chair, Darrel Marco, led the NBW committee in organizing an essay contest, a graphic novel contest, a poster making contest and a Readers Theatre contest. These competitions are meant to develop skills in the communication arts, visual arts and the sciences. This year’s theme, Connected Actions, Collective Vision: Libraries Transforming Lives, is the focal point to which the entries in the essay, graphic novel and poster contests are based upon.

Apparently, I was invited as judge of the essay writing competition. This is my first time to judge in the contest. Having been invited as judge in previous storytelling competitions of the NBW, I know what to expect. I have written in the blog my insights and previous experiences as judge in the NBW contests so, expect that I will do the same for this year. That’s one post I hope you will be waiting for in the next few days because the entries in the essay contests are evidences of the country’s collective thought process, pedagogy and teaching practices in literacy skills development, as well as, the untapped potential of librarians as agent of change, collaboration and community building.

Judges of all three contests, essay, graphic novel and poster making gather for a photo op. 

As the judging of the three contests was done simultaneously, we noticed patterns and similarities that bothered and moved us to think of doing more for the book industry and the LIS profession.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Pumapapel Crafts’ Paper Engineering Workshop

Interested in making pop-up books? Know the art and the science behind paper engineering! Attend the Pop-Up Books Workshop of Ms. Amy Lopez Nayve.

 Read the details in the e-poster and visit Pumapapel Crafts for information on registration to the workshop.

Amy Lopez Nayve is an entreprenuer and paper engineer. She has done numerous workshops on pop-up books making and paper engineering. She has appeared on television ans her works have been features in numerous blogs and social media. Amy has been to the US last month as presentor and speaker in The Movable Book Society Conference 2018. 

Visit her Facebook Page, 
Pumapapel Crafts 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

In Retrospect: November is Picture Book Month

Today is the 1st of November. Picture Book Month (PBM) begins. 

But, with Dianne de Las Casas’ passing last year, it has been a great challenge to keep PBM alive. As we are all used to celebrating PBM, it would have been launched with a calendar of themes each day of the month in early October. The first PBM Champion’s essay on the relevance of picture books would have been posted on the website and on social media. And classrooms, libraries and homes would be celebrating reading and the many delights of picture books. In this day and age, when a gathering dark circles around the globe, the reason to promote reading and to emphasize the importance of books in our individual lives and in the collective consciousness is paramount. PBM must be kept alive. 

Such is not completely the case this year. 

I have been Dianne’s content and web admin for PBM since 2016 as well as PBM Champion in 2013. It saddens me that this year, I am not as busy campaigning for books and reading in the US through PBM and National Book Month in my home country, the Philippines.

Dianne and the rest of the PBM ladies who started it all in 2011 have created amazing content with messages that speak of truths, insights, goodness and beauty that we all need to be reminded about. Over the years, essays written by PBM Champions enlighten readers of the ever changing and exciting landscape of Children’s Literature in general and the picture book industry, specifically. PBM is not only a celebration. PBM is a community.

I do not know where PBM will go from here, given the challenges of keeping the website up and running. But I am holding on to a candle of hope that one day, these challenges will be resolved. 

In the next few days, readers will get to read essays of PBM Champions from previous years. This year, it is a PBM celebration in retrospect. May the curated posts that I will be putting together serve its purpose to remember why we need to do what we need to do in any positive way we can.

Today is the 1st November. It is Picture Book Month. Read! Share! Celebrate!
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