Peace Day Celebrations: 21st September

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I know its been a while that I posted something. But the past one month has been hectic leaving me in a frenzy. But nevertheless here I am posting about all the latest happenings from the library.

The school celebrated Peace Day on 21st September, and we too celebrated the or rather observed the day in our own special way. The display board was done and we prepared some activity sheets for students to express their opinion about Peace. And the response was very deep felt and mature. They expressed themselves through drawings and writings. We also had a discussion as to why peace is so importance in our troubled times. Their opinion clearly echoed how the young minds are disturbed by all the violence and hatred. It was heartening to see that they understand the impact of violence and why peace and tolerance is the need of the hour.

To know more about Peace Day please visit :http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/

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Auggie & Me: Three wonder stories by R.J. Palacio

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I had read Wonder as it was part of the recommended list I saw in my school. And it held me captive from the first word. Wonder told the story of August, a boy having craniofacial deformity. But the second book Auggie & Me tells the story from three different perspectives of Julian (the guy who bullied August), Christopher(his childhood best friend) and Charlotte (one of his schoolmates). It is really quite interesting the way everyone sees the situation in his or her way. Is Julian really a bully? Is Christopher right to hide Auggie from his new friends? Is Charlotte ‘nice’ enough to August or is she just pretending?

The first story, Julian’s Chapter, is about Auggie’s school bully, Julian, and his point of view. For him, he hasn’t been bullying August, instead August has been stealing his friends, giving him nightmares and terrorising his reputation in the schoolyard. Julian feels left out from his social network by Auggie’s arrival. And the resulting anger and frustration comes out without understanding that his actions could not only hurt but deeply wound Auggie. Nevertheless he realises his fault and makes amends. That’s what I like  the most because kids are like that. They do not harp on the feelings for too long, unlike adults who can brood for long.

The second story, Pluto, is from August’s best friend Christopher’s way of seeing things. He grew up with Auggie, so his face isn’t anything weird to him. He only first realised that his friend was anything different to every other kid his age when he was four years old, and from there he was in a sort of pickle – be loyal to his life-long friend or be teased mercilessly by his new school friends?A question that many kids face in their lives when they shift schools.

The third story in this collection is called Shing-A-Ling, and is written from the opinions of Charlotte, a girl who was chosen to introduce August to his new school. It examines her social life, and the different decisions she made, some of them relating to August, others not. We have all experienced one such person who is a teacher’s pet and thus happens to do things which they would not do otherwise.

This collection of the three stories is not only thought-provoking but also draws our attention to the fact that we bring up our children in a very protected manner, which renders them defenseless and clueless when faced with harsh realities of life. We should bring up our children to be strong in both mind and body. Just as we feed their body, we should also feed their mind to be open vessels receptive to every learning experience.The book will encourage readers to see classmates, friends, and family in a new light. It is more of a spin-off than a sequel to the much-acclaimed Wonder and digs deep into themes of kindness, friendship, accountability, and integrity with a deft understanding of middle school social drama.

 Auggie & Me in a nutshell follows three students in vastly different circumstances learning important lessons about relationships: Julian confronts his own cruelty and his enabler parents, Christopher acknowledges his selfishness and the work needed to stay close to important friends and family, and Charlotte expands her circle to embrace new friends.

What is heart warming is author R.J. Palacio’s gift for understanding the pressures of middle school. As in Wonder, some characters and situation seem a little too shiny and happy to be true. But they’re presented with such sincerity and faith in the basic goodness of people, it’s hard to take issue with it. So go for it, no matter what your age.

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Beyond the Obvious: 6th August

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Slight breeze welcomed me as I stepped outside to board an auto towards the Metro Station. Grey clouds started appeared veiling the sun that tried to outshine itself. But no such luck. Wet breeze kissed my cheeks as I got down at the Metro Station. I got worried seeing the clouds pursuing me, but I was determined not to let my spirits dampen. After all,  I was going to a storytelling workshop which could not only raise my spirits higher but could give wings to my imagination.

I got down at the venue and registered myself. And within seconds there was a drop on my cheek and then the slow trickle gave way to a downpour. We were all seated in the comfortable auditorium waiting for the magic to happen. And boy was  I in for a ride. Since the moment Simi Ma’am came on stage we were all spellbound and held captive by her words and actions. I for one could not take my eyes off her. She seemed to transform into this mystical fairy who sprinkled fairy dust upon us. And we were all transported to a faraway land.

She had us all in raptures. She began the session with a riddle that caught everyone’s attention. It was meant to illustrate the working of the human mind, how it is conditioned in a particular manner based on physical appearances. She very cleverly expressed how the human mind perceives things visually. The answer to the riddle brought forth several versions, which rightfully demonstrated to each his/her perception. Thus, we should delve deeper when we perceive a child and not judge or dismiss them based on their appearances or even the first encounter. Each child is like a flower that opens petal by petal to reveal his/her beauty.

 To further expand on that thought she narrated an incident which a few years back had surfaced in FB. It was about a boy who expresses his gratitude towards his teacher by asking her to fill her the place of his mother at his wedding since his mother was long dead. Had it not been for the efforts from the teacher, the boy would never have made a niche for himself in society. She as a teacher made that extra effort to know the child when he started to drop in his performance. She tracked his earlier form profiles and saw that since his mother’s death , the boy had performed bad. She had a change of perception for the boy who till now was judged as difficult and devil’s own. It was that EXTRA effort on the teacher’s part that changed the child’s life, or else he would gone through schooling unnoticed.

Simi Ma’am progressed on to explaining the fine lines of storytelling. She elucidated upon the concept of “Mini Theatre”  and how stories could be used in daily classes and daily life to teach concepts to children. She tell went on to tell another story which taught factorisation concept in easy steps. I was astonished and speechless that a daily routine in the kitchen could have saved me from the agony of my Maths teacher. But alas! I was not lucky enough to have Simi Ma’am unravel the secrets of learning in stories back then.

We were all students in her magical class, and she was slowly producing one gem after another. To my utter surprise she narrated a fascinating story, but she stopped midway, at the climax. And we were all waiting i anticipation for her to go on and end it. But that is when she dropped her genius art: an open ended story allows growth of personality and lets the imagination run riot. the ending of a story is a reflection of the author: his/her observations/discernment.

In the span of just 2 hours she taught me a lot about the art of storytelling and having incorporated them in my daily life with my daughter, I find her to be too eager for story time. The art of story telling is so ancient that one cannot lay a finger to its origin. But yes, its a universal fact that every culture has stories and that is what makes them rich. India is a diverse land that has so many stories to offer that one cannot consume in a lifetime.

My takeaway: Magic of the story is that it enhances productivity skills of speaking and writing and augments the receptive skills of reading and listening.

I am definitely looking forward to another enthralling session with her and become a child one again.

National Librarians Day:12th August

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Dr. S.R.Ranganathan, was born on 9 August 1892. He came from a moderate background in British-ruled India. Ranganathan began his professional life as a mathematician; he earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in mathematics from Madras Christian College in his home province, and then went on to earn a teaching license. His lifelong goal was to teach mathematics, and he was successively a member of the mathematics faculties at universities in Mangalore, Coimbatore and Madras (all within the span of five years). As a mathematics professor, he published a handful of papers, mostly on the history of mathematics. His career as an educator was somewhat hindered by a handicap of stammering (a difficulty Ranganathan gradually overcame in his professional life). The Government of India awarded Padmashri to Dr. S.R. Ranganathan for valuable contributions to Library Science.

Five Laws of Library Science:
• Books are for use
• Every reader his/her book
• Every book, its reader
• Save the time of the reader
• A library is a growing organism

August 12th is being celebrated as National Librarian’s Day in India, in remembrance of national professor of library science, Dr S R Ranganathan (1892-1972), who had spearheaded library development in India.

As a librarian myself, I decided to pay tribute to our Guru by celebrating the day in our school. Not much is known about the day and thus I was unable to create a stir. But yes at my own level accompanied with the support of my colleagues we managed to celebrate the day in our own way. Library is perceived as a boring place because not much is done to enhance the face of the library. But it has been my passion to make library as lively as possible. And so I planned on doing something that was fun and yet related to books. So what better than “BOOKFACE”. 

Next step was the selection of books to do the activity. I managed to get hold of some books that would excite children to participate in the activity. And I was in for a surprise as I had not expected that this would stir interest. Anyways, the day was fun as we too participated with the kids in the activity. There was laughter, mirth and hilarity as the pictures made us all topple with laughter.

I enjoyed the day and so did my colleagues. In our own small way we paid tribute to the man who made us who we are.

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BOOK LOVERS DAY: 9th AUGUST

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” When the day of judgement dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworms and say to Peter, ”Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading”………….Virginia Wolf

Well then that places us librarians in a safe lot as we love to read and I can vouch for myself that I want to die while reading. There is no substitute for books. They provide me solace and also wings that take me to unknown faraway lands among goblins, trolls, fairies, nymphs, knights and….I can go on for hours. I have met so many people and made many friends who help me when faced with a crisis. I just need to reach to my bookshelf and pick out a book. Whenever I am faced with a situation that seems too much to handle I always find my answers among books. They speak to me and help me sort out things. So the BOOK LOVERS DAY is special for me. Not just because of my profession but also because they are my lifeline. Books have a power which is revealed to those who treasure them. They can make you experience million lives within a span of say few years. You will never realize that these people will become a part of you and also develop a bond with you.

So on this day as a token of love and to engage fellow readers I had a small display in school library along with Maitreyee Ma’am, the head librarian. Both of us put up books which we liked. Also we took the chance to have kids reach out and read Harry Potter series latest edition. So we had people from Kool Skool (Amit Sarin) bring “The Cursed Child” for sale. Though done on a small basis I had the satisfaction of having done my bit in getting a reader to his/ her book.

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Maitreyee Ma’am and me with Harry Potter Books

Don’t overlook your school librarian, they’re the unsung heroes of literacy

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School librarians are depressingly underused, argues Sally Dring. Many teachers would be amazed at how much support they can give them and their students

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‘Many school librarians are seen purely as minders of a spare IT suite or as date label stampers.’ Photograph: Alamy

When talking about teaching and learning, most people don’t immediately think of librarians. But in a school where the librarian or learning resource centre manager is valued and properly made use of, we can teach important skills.

Librarians are in the privileged position of being able to work with teachers across all subjects and students of all ages, observing the inner workings of a school from a slight distance.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the belief that students are adept at using the latest technology to find the information they need is simply not true. Students turn up in the library with the ubiquitous task of researching a topic and they don’t know where to start. Usually they head to Google, which takes them straight to Wikipedia (it’s top of the list so it doesn’t take much effort). Wikipedia is handy if you know how to use it properly, but many students need this explaining to them. Should they choose to go to university, a Wikipedia footnote will not be acceptable.

A librarian’s area of expertise is in information management and we try to make the process of finding information easier for our students and staff by providing relevant, reliable resources to support the areas they are studying or teaching. We teach information literacy – finding, assessing, evaluating, using and referencing information. We can also share this knowledge with teachers if it’s needed, especially since some find learning how to use new technology, or keeping up with the latest programmes and websites, very difficult.

Teachers are busy enough as it is and often don’t have the time to critically assess all the sources of information out there. If you’re struglling with this – or need help with research – it’s a good opportunity to make use of your friendly school librarian, who is usually more than happy to help out. It’s part of our job.

Librarians can help students to formulate assess and evaluate what they’ve found and, importantly, use information in a way that hones their note-taking skills, avoiding plagiarism. Librarians can teach your students to be better, more independent researchers.

Most school libraries will have their own management system, including a catalogue that students and staff can access. This will probably include details of online databases, magazine articles and recommended websites, as well as books. What better place for students to start their research? If the teachers start using and valuing the librarian in their school, the students will do the same and view them as more than someone to help with the photocopying or chase them for an overdue book.

Encouraging literacy across the curriculum is something that comes naturally to the school librarian, whose job revolves around literacy of all kinds, a fact that can be overlooked. We spend our time finding the right book for the right child and each student is individual in their needs and taste. I have been lucky to obtain the role of literacy co-ordinator in my school. The role sits naturally alongside that of the school librarian, working with all the different subject departments with a unique overview of the school.

Librarians also share teachers’ frustration at each new change to the curriculum – we’ll have to get some new books and find some different databases. We’ll probably have subscribed to several databases with reliable, curriculum-based information that is perfect for students. It’s at times like this that it would be great if teachers work with us and share the burden of selecting and providing new resources. We could help you build up a list of websites that are suitable, and can guide students on the skills they need to find information independently.

As it is not a statutory requirement for a school to have a library (although, interestingly, it is for a prison) so there are no set models or pay scales for school libraries, librarians or the status they hold within a school. I am fortunate in having the support of senior management and holding an assistant subject leader position, which helps to give me more clout. But many school librarians are seen purely as minders of a spare IT suite or as date label stampers. They are enormously, depressingly, frustratingly underused.

So don’t forget to seek out your school librarian. You will be amazed at how much support they can give you and how much time they can save you. And they really do want to be taken notice of.

Sally Dring is learning resources manager, literacy and numeracy co-ordinator atRipon Grammar School. She is chair of the School Library Association, Yorkshire and Humberside branch, and School Library Association elected board member.

Courtesy:

https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacherblog/2014/sep/18/school-librarian-literacy-support-teacher-students

The Unknown Errors Of Our Lives: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

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This book was published in the year 2001, but I got the chance to read this fabulous piece only now. Every time I came close to reading this book, it slipped out of my hand. But this time when it appeared before me I lost no time in reading it. And what a journey it was. A collection of short stories that focuses on Indian women and their immigrant experience . In many ways, the subject matter is similar to those of Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of the Maladies”. Many of the stories in in the book also deal with marriages of different sorts and in different stages: arranged marriages, engagements, deteriorating relationships, hidden affairs, and so on. But the one thread that runs in all stories is the feeling of empathy. No matter where or who, the woman in the story is shown to be empathetic and bound in Indian traditions. She does not give away her roots just to be planted in a new soil. She bears strong roots though planted in a new land.

 

The first story in the book is entitled “Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter”. This is a poignant, tender story that stirs your heart . It’s about an old widow who moves from India to live with her son’s family in America. Her son tells her “We want you to be comfortable, Ma. To rest. That’s why we brought you here to America.” Her efforts or attempts to share her stories of India and cook traditional meals and help out around the house are looked down upon  by her daughter-in-law.She begins to feel un-welcomed and a burden, and realizes that her visit was a mistake. Life with her son and grandchildren in America isn’t what Mrs. Dutta imagined it would be. Through Divakaruni’s writing, the reader can feel Mrs. Dutta’s hurt, ache and disappointment,  and alienation at the hands of her own family and the foreign land.
As in “Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter” the story “The Intelligence of Wild Things” brings up issues of keeping Old World traditions alive after immigrating versus becoming Americanized. “The Intelligence of Wild Things” is about a woman who visits her younger brother, Tarun in Vermont. She discovers that his girlfriend is an American girl with “freckled skin and reddish-gold hair.” She wonders how her brother who “had never wanted to come to America” has become so Americanized while she, who agreed to an arranged marriage in order to move to America, still clings to traditions she learned growing up in India.

“The Lives of Strangers”  is about Leela, a young Indian woman from America who visits her aunt in India. They go on a pilgrimage with a group of women. One of these women is Mrs. Das whom the rest of the women believe was “born under an unlucky star” and therefor shun her due to a fear that her bad luck may rub off on them. Divakaruni does a fantastic job in this story portraying Leela’s struggle with guilt and a conscience that is telling her to do what is right despite what others say.

 

Other stories include “Love Of A Good Man,” a tale of a happily married Indian woman who must confront her past when her long-estranged father begs to meet his only grandson;  “The Blooming Season For Cacti,” where two women, uprooted from their native land by violence and deception, find unexpected solace in each other; and the title story, where an artist faced with her fiance’s past a week before her wedding must make an important decision.
Some stories in this collection are definitely stronger than others, but overall, the book offered an excellent look at the Indian immigrant experience from the female point of view. Each woman was strong and opinionated about how she wanted to lead her life. Her decision was not influenced or forced. All characters are truly inspiring and caricatures of real life people. Surely a must read.