Saturday, November 11, 2017

Peter Lerangis at GMA



“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.
J. D. Salinger. The Catcher in the Rye.

To have a children’s writer or an illustrator in your school is a stimulus for any student who loves reading and writing.  If the author is someone who talks to an audience in a way that appeals to them he can inspire even those who are not much interested in reading or writing. GMA was blessed to have such an author at school on the 6th of November. The author is none other than Peter Lerangis the American author whose books are widely acclaimed. Peter has written more than 160 books and is well known for his adventurous fiction Seven Wonders. Students from grade 5 to 7 had a delightful session with the author for more than one hour.


With more than 160 books in his credit and more than four million copies sold, Peter manages to break free from his writing studio. He has become known for his lively, informative school visits before audiences of all sizes and ages. He has always been a strong advocate of literacy and the encouragement of reluctant readers. Early on Peter wrote puzzle books and movie novelizations such as The Hardy Boys and The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Super mysteries, The Three Investigators and the Babysitters Club. In 2003, Peter was invited by the White House to accompany First Lady Laura Bush to Moscow, with R.L. Stine and Marc Brown to represent the U.S. at the first Russian Book Festival. More recently Peter became one of Scholastic’s Dream Team of authors for their New York Times bestselling series, The 39 Clues, a ground-breaking ten-book adventure series designed to increase readership by encouraging involvement with the adventure online.




After a welcome speech and a short introduction of the author by our students, Peter began his magical talk. Unlike many others, Peter explained how he started writing as a student and how reluctant he was to show his work to others. This really made me wonder since I have experienced students who are voracious readers telling me that they are reluctant, sometimes shy, sometimes scared to show their work to others. He explained realistically how failure can lead one to success eventually. He said he believes there are five steps to successful writing. Step one is you fail, step two is, you fail, step three is, you fail, step four is, you fail and step five you succeed! He told the students that the point where they succeed, they feel like the characters in the story urge them to change the story and tell them what to do. I could watch brimming enthusiasm on the face of most of the students who attended the session. I am sure this particular point made every student think for a second.



The narration of biography needs a special talent to catch the attention of the audience without getting them bored and Peter proved himself to be a great storyteller and narrator in every word he spoke. Students listened to him as though they are watching an animated movie. They were totally captivated, while he talked about how he came up with ideas to write. He showed the illustrations and stories he did as a student. Later he shared his real-life experience of being asked by the Obama administration to go to Russia on Air Force one to meet Putin. His presentation was well received by the students since he had a special sense of humor, suspense and lot of enthusiasm and spirit.



The students had a quick question and answer segment after his presentation, Questions ranged from what inspired him to write, how long does he usually take to finish a book and how does his start a story. There was also a book signing session for the students for his series Seven Wonders and his latest book Max Tilt: Fire the Depths. He patiently signed all the books piled before him and the students were totally enraptured to have the signed copy of his book. A big Thank You to Peter Lerangis from GMA for his auspicious presence and wonderful presentation for our students.




For an author visit to happen, it should be carefully planned, prepared and executed. It requires time, commitment and patience from a group of people. Thanks to all the people who put their effort to make this happen. What I could make out from the happy and contented face of the students who left the library after the session was that, the event was one of the most powerful and inciting literary experience they will always cherish in their life.



Friday, October 6, 2017

Kazuo Ishiguro wins the Nobel Prize in Literature.

"The British author Kazuo Ishiguro said he was both honoured and “taken completely by surprise” after he was named this year’s winner of the 2017 Nobel prize in literature, even initially wondering if the announcement was a case of “fake news”.
Ishiguro, author of novels including The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, was praised by the Swedish Academy for novels which “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world” and were driven by a “great emotional force”.

Source : https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/oct/05/kazuo-ishiguro-wins-the-nobel-prize-in-literature

THE REMAINS OF THE DAY:  KAZUO ISHIGURO





Spoiler Alert: This review reveals the entire plot of the story.

Kazuo Ishiguro is a Japanese writer, born in 1954 in Nagasaki. Ishiguro’s family immigrated to London later, where he spent his childhood. His first two books A Pale View of Hills (1982) and An Artist of the Floating World (1986) won The Winifred Holtby Prize and The White Bread Book of the Year awards respectively. The Remains of the Day, his third novel won him the Booker Prize in 1988.

I happened to read The Remains of The Day some years back suggested by one of my friends. Anyone who can enjoy P. G Wodehouse and considers him as a literary genius, anyone who feels after reading a book by Wodehouse, that the gloom is lifted up after a tiring day, can very well enjoy Ishiguro’s writings. I could always connect these two writers in many ways. The Remains of the Day is a hangover cure. After going through the news clippings about Ishiguro winning the Nobel for literature this year, I thought of writing about the book.

I browsed through my bookshelf and was amazed to see how long since I have read it, as the pages have turned yellowish. The Remains of the Day is an aristocratic English novel setup in pre-World War II.   Ishiguro’s novel is a haunting invocation of life amidst the wars in a Great English House. The book talks about lost love and causes. It is a study of personality, class and culture. The protagonist and the narrator Stevens is the Head Butler at Darlington Hall. He is a personification or incarnation of a brilliant and perfect English Butler. He is always refined and formal in his talks and is very meticulous in whatever job he does. His absolute loyalty is towards Lord Darlington and he conceals his true feelings from everyone. Stevens’s father was also a butler and he believes him as the most successful man he has ever seen. While reading the book we come to know that Stevens’s role model was his father. After Lord Darlington’s death, the house came under the ownership of Mr Farraday. Unlike Darlington, Farrady is an American and is a very sociable person. However, Stevens fails to interact with him in an informal way which he is not used to.

Stevens decides to take a six-day road trip to West Country London. He sets on this trip to meet Miss Kenton. She used to work for the Darlington House. However, Miss Kenton left the job to get married. Later Stevens receives a letter from Miss Kenton, which gives a hint that her marriage is failing and would like to return to her work in the Darlington House. The story is all about Stevens recalling his job under Lord Darlington. It has been revealed in the story later that, Lord Darlington was a sympathizer of the Nazi agenda before World War II. Darlington tried to foster ties between Great Britain and Germany. His name is besmirched through this act eventually.

Stevens worked with Miss Kenton for seven years. They had a difference of opinion regarding work. Nevertheless, Stevens later realize that he had romantic feelings for Kenton though he never expressed his feelings towards her.  He does absolutely nothing to change the course of the events. Towards the end of the novel, Kenton confesses to Stevens that their marriage would have changed things better for her. As taken from the book:

'What a terrible mistake I've made with my life.' And you get to thinking about a different life, a better life you might have had. For instance, I get to thinking about a life I may have had with you, Mr. Stevens. And I suppose that's when I get angry about some trivial little thing and leave. But each time I do, I realize before long—my rightful place is with my husband. After all, there's no turning back the clock now. One can't be forever dwelling on what might have been".

Day Six- Evening
Miss Kenton, p.251.


As I felt it, the most touching part of the story is, when Stevens observes the changes in Miss Kenton after years. As taken from the book:

“As we continued subtle changes which the years had wrought on her. For instance, Miss Kenton appeared, somehow, slower. It is possible this was simply the calmness that comes with age, and I did try hard for some time to see it as such. But I could not escape the feeling that what I was really seeing was a weariness with life; the spark which had once made her such a lively, and at times, the volatile person seemed now to have gone."

Day Six - Evening
Stevens, p.245.

Stevens, however, regret about not revealing his love for Kenton. He returns without reacting to her confession and decides to work for his employer as loyal as he can. Commitment to his profession takes his personal life, which he seldom cared. The story ends with his struggle about his failure to accept the fact that Lord Darlington, the man he worked for and lived for is not as perfect and remarkable a person.
Though very devastating and ironic a plot the story covers, it is undoubtedly a technical masterpiece of the great author. The book exposes the concepts of upper-class smugness, society,  and inner struggles of the human mind with much insightfulness. It is certainly a good read for anyone who hides their true inner feelings. 

Related links:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/dec/06/kazuo-ishiguro-the-remains-of-the-day-guardian-book-club

https://www.theguardian.com/books/audio/2015/jan/16/kazuo-ishiguro-the-remains-of-the-day-books-podcast



Written by

Sreevidya Devanand.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Obituary to Robert M Pirsig




The classical philosophical novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one of its kind in literature. Its author Pirsig passed away on April 24th. Ever since I read his two novels I wanted to write about it. I analyze and interpret almost every book I read. Some books remain in my memory forever. Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and J D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye are some examples. But Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a book that totally changed my perception of life. It changed the way I think and see things.


I never had the courage to write in detail about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance because every time I read that book I gained something new from it. So I let it go. The book was published in 1974.

I skip introductions in books usually. This book was gifted by my brother who left me two years back. It was approximately 29 years ago. When he gave me the book, the title or its cover did not attract me at all. I was totally confused what I had to do with Zen and Motorcycle and how the two were related in any way. I flipped through some pages and kept the book aside. On my first read, the book appeared to me as a detail about motorcycles and its workings. I was 14 years that time. After a couple of years, while I was doing my specialization in English Literature, I decided to read it again. This time I read the introduction given by the author. In the introduction, Pirsig explains that despite the book’s title, it should not be associated with the orthodox Zen Buddhist practice or motorcycles as such. On the second read, the underlying philosophy of Quality and its relation to his personal life began to develop in my mind. Pirsig tried to bring in this book the idea that Quality cannot be defined. It can only be felt. Once you define Quality it loses its meaning. He supports this by explaining Zen. Zen is nothingness. You cannot describe nothingness. You have to feel it. The book ranges from Eastern philosophy to empiricism, and rationalism to rhetoric.


The story is in the form of a personal trip the author took with his 12-year-old son Chris from their home at Minnesota through the Dakotas to California. The book is a struggle with the author’s personality and his philosophical quest in forms of conversations with his son and his friends who joined the trip.He named this conversation as Chautauquas. In the book, he identifies himself as a professor who makes his students go crazy over a definition of quality, a man who is sectioned to an electric shock treatment in order to remove his past from his memories, a father who tries to bond with his 12-year-old son and so on. I was always curious to imagine the sort of person he was because most of his autobiographical musings remain unexplained. It is the reader who has to find the answers. You feel like you are in a maze and you try desperately to find different ways to come out of it. It keeps you thinking over and again. The name Phaedrus which he pronounces in many places in the book remains a mystery which unfolds at the end of the story. Phaedrus, is named after an Ancient Greek Sophist who appears in Plato's Socratic dialogue, Phaedrus in this book is an analytical prodigy who is highly disenchanted with the western notion of reason.

The book differentiates between Quality and Reason. Quality as such is undefinable whereas reason is concerned with things that can be defined and explained in detail. He regards quality as the primal experience, the absolute bedrock from which all languages arises. There is a conflict when you try to define Quality with the help of language. Quality, otherwise reality is undivided. Language splits things into parts while trying to define something. So the very attempt of trying to define Quality is absurd. It is an evolving process of experience. 

We all know that the words we use to describe our experiences are never adequate to encapsulate the uniqueness and the zest of the actual experience we felt. Let me try to explain it with a work of art. The artist creates something. He leaves it to the audience. The audience tries to interpret it according to their knowledge and experience. Once the creation is done the artist should be left free. The one who sees the work of art may have different views and interpretations. Take an example of an Impressionist painting. Some people might be intrigued by the colours while some others by the perspectives. It all depends on personal experiences and the way we conceive ideas. No two persons feel the same while looking at a work of art. It can only be felt inside and it varies from person to person.But once you try to describe it the whole purpose of the art fails. 

In the book, he also tried to bridge the abyss between Western and Eastern philosophies’/thoughts. He describes himself as a difficult professor in many ways and in his own words by the end of the terms, his students were so exhilarated that if he had asked them to jump out of the window they would.

One of my favourite excerpts from the book.

“In our highly complex organic state, we advanced organisms respond to our environment with an invention of many marvelous analogues. We invent earth and heavens, trees, stones and oceans, gods, music, arts, language, philosophy, engineering, civilization and science. We call these analogues reality. And they are reality. We mesmerize our children in the name of truth into knowing that they are reality. We throw anyone who does not accept these analogues into an insane asylum. But that which causes us to invent the analogues is Quality. Quality is the continuing stimulus which our environment puts upon us to create the world in which we live. All of it. Every last bit of it”.

(Pirsig, 1974, p.317).

Persig's key message to us is his recitation of Socrates's message to Phaedrus: And what is good Phaedrus and what is not good/ Need we ask anyone these things?


The book is a tug of war between mechanical and spiritless. Pirsig’s iconoclastic approach did confuse me in many places while I was reading the book. It still does. But from my personal experience I suggest this book to all students who take philosophy as a serious subject but with a note of caution that it is not for light hearted reading.

Reference:




Images are taken from Wikipedia under Creative Common License.

Written by Sreevidya Devanand.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Are You A Maker?

May 2nd Tuesday was Global Day of Design to inspire children to design and create. It was Maker’s Day for our students in the Resource Centre. It was not a preplanned project. We collected whatever materials we could like popsicle sticks, straws, buttons, balloons, paints, brushes, toothpicks, and a box of wooden blocks which was Shirin ma’am’s treasure. We had some ideas in mind but we just gave random materials to the children when they came to the library and asked them to brainstorm and come out with some ideas making them sit in groups of five.



 While asking the students to brainstorm, I was thinking about the last time I fixed something or created something. To my dismay, I realized that I never tried to design or discover to accomplish something. Not everyone is a maker. I told myself. But a conversation with the other librarians reminded me of my childhood when I used to make balls, watches, caps and tops out of palm leaves. It was a kind of weaving technique which most children of my age knew how to do. I also used to make wall hangings out of recycled materials. Is not that making too? I think it is. Well, I was a maker too then.





Times have changed. Children need not have to sit with palm leaves to make balls and watches. In the new wave of technology, children make VR Headsets. So what exactly is a maker space and who is a maker? Anyone who makes something by hand is a maker and the space they utilize for the purpose is Maker Space. Maker Space in the Resource Centre is an initiative by Ms., Madhur. We have many children who are real creative genii. For them, this has been a wonderful opportunity to nurture their spirits and become makers or creators or developers. As educators, we are committed to making students help learn new technologies and interact and collaborate with their peers to work on hands-on projects.



Given along with this post are the pictures we took when the students were in the process of ‘making'. Most of them were surprisingly enthusiastic and they came up with these amazing stuff.





Chain Reaction with Popsicle Sticks


Chariot from Sphero


Mat from Popsicle Sticks


Banjo..





If you want your students to be creative you need to give them challenges and specific themes to work on. Some examples are building a house out of cardboard, making something that a Sphero can pull around the library etc. These help students to stay focused. Let them explore new tools and come up with amazing results. They should be given some free days or blocks of free time so that they do not feel restricted. Let them be creators, innovators, explorers.

“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.” 




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kwame Alexander at GEMS Modern Academy

Monday 24th of April was a special day for The Resource Centre. Newbery Award-winning author Kwame Alexander visited our library and had a book discussion with the students.

“Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator and New York Times bestselling author of 24 books. He received the Newbery Medal for his novel The Crossover. Newbery Medal, is the American Library Association’s top award given to the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Kwame Alexander regularly travels the world as a literacy advocate and expert.”



His book Crossover has many features that distinguish it from other novels. The novel is basically in the form of poetry. In other words, it can be called as a novel in verse. Words change from line to line and sometimes drops diagonally across a page as if the narrator moves down a basketball court. 12-year-old Josh Bell offers his story in a painful, sad and funny way. The story is quite compelling. Although the story tells a lot about basketball, it rummages through deeper issues like tension revolving around Josh and his twin brother. In Alexandre’s own words he tried to bring into attention in Crossover, the joy and sense of humor that was ubiquitous in his family.



It is not a small achievement to listen to a Newbery Award winner who is as persuasive and alluring as Mr. Alexander. He captured the attention of a large group of students from different grades with ease. He kept on switching from personal anecdotes, reading out his poems and asking questions to the students that made up the audience. Among the questions were who among the audience is a great basketball player and who is the best rapper among the audience.He recited some of his poems for the audience.



The students in the library were literally celebrating the moments with Mr. Alexander and passionately asked him questions like what inspired him to be a writer, what was his latest work, how many books he has written, why did he choose basketball as a theme in his novel and what made him switch on from basketball to soccer to endangered species and finally to a novel. Mr. Alexander was taken by surprise at the variety of questions coming from the students.



His another work ‘Booked’ deals with serious issues among middle schoolers like bullying, racism, and education. It is relatable equally to students, parents, and educators. It has a lot of message about family, friendship, and learning. One of the beautiful chapters that caught my attention while having a quick glance through his work ‘Booked’ is given below.

Basketball Rule #1

In this game of life
Your family is the court
And the ball is your heart.
No matter how good you are,
no matter how down you get,
always leave
your heart
on the court.



It was a wonderful experience to listen to such an appealing writer as Mr. Alexander. The students who attended the session were indeed lucky to have interacted with such a great author. His presence in the library was electric and heartfelt at the same time and he kept the students on their toes till the end. Applause to Ms. Madhur who arranged such a wonderful event in the library which I feel will remain in memory forever for all who attended the session.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Oceans on Earth Day


In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught” – Baba Diom, Senegalese Environmentalist

The first Earth Day was celebrated on 22nd April 1970. Causa Proxima for that was the devastation caused by 1969   Santa Barbara oil spill that killed millions of fish and thousands of sea mammals and birds. 47 years later, millions of people from hundreds of countries around the world are celebrating Earth Day today.


We are concerned about global warming, pollution in our neighborhood, vanishing rainforests and damages done to the terrain.  We should.   However, there is also another part of planet earth that needs our immediate attention- our oceans.



(An islet in French Polynesia)

Why are our oceans so important?

Oceans cover  71 percent of earth’s surface and is home to millions of marine organisms.  From single-celled bubble algae to blue whale, the largest animal on earth, millions of species call oceans their homes.  But we live on the land, how are our lives dependent on Oceans?

Let us start with oxygen.   The first image that comes to your mind would be that of a tree. Trees provide us oxygen to breathe.  However, they are not the major source of it. Rain forests provide us 28% of oxygen in the air. Trees and plants of other areas add another 2% to it. The rest of it is produced by sea plants- consisting of tiny algal planktons that help produce 70% of the oxygen we consume. In simple words’ if we ruin the marine flora, we all will choke to death.

Next vital element of life is water. You got it already! Water in the land is maintained by the water cycle. The water of the ocean evaporates and forms clouds and rains on the land.
The third essential is food. Seafood is an important source, but the story doesn’t end there. All our food sources, plants and animals need water to grow and absorb nutrients and without the water cycle, we just won't have any form of food to eat.

In a nutshell,   apart from sunlight, every single essential for life on earth is dependent on oceans.  Ruin them and ruin the life on this planet.


Christmas tree worm

 How safe are our oceans?

Sadly, not very. The increase in  atmospheric carbon dioxide is a major threat,  causing an alarming increase in ocean acidity, which is a threat to all life forms including planktons, the lungs of our planet. Many sea creatures such as the beautiful coral to sea bottom-dwelling clams are under serious threat.  Pollution, plastic pollution, in particular,  is another serious threat.   The increase of oil, mercury and pesticide pollution is yet another. Destruction of mangroves and over fishing adds to it. It is time we seriously do something.



Plastic and other marine debris in Hawaii Beach

 What can we, as individuals do?

A lot. Let us identify the important ones.
  •  Reduce your carbon footprint to slow down ocean acidification. Save energy in every way you can. Habits as simple as switching off lights when you exit a room helps. So do buy locally produced vegetables. A google search should get you dozens like these.  
  • Never buy products with microbeads. These get into the sea and cause serious hazards to sea life. Called the plastic soup, micro beads are the worst form of marine plastic pollution. Next time you buy a cosmetic product , check and avoid the ones that contain micro beads.
  • Use less plastic and turn to  recyclable  materials.
  •  Do not litter on beaches.
  • Do not buy fish that are below minimum legal size. Catching juvenile fish prevents them from breeding, causing a fall in their population.
  • Do not buy ornaments made of endangered or threatened marine wildlife. This includes corals and turtle shells.
  • Spread the awareness and be aware of ocean pollution and its devastating effects.

“The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites one family. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. The earth is sacred and men and animals are but one part of it. Treat the earth with respect so that it lasts for centuries to come and is a place of wonder and beauty for our children.”
Chief Seattle

All pictures in this blog post are from Wikimedia reproduced under creative common license.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Budding Talents

“There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it” 
Gustave Flaubert     
           

This school year had been spontaneous so far. Past weeks had been hectic for us librarians as we had to welcome new students to the library. With these students coming to the library, we had to deal with more requests for library services and facilities. They require assistance and instructions on selecting a book, locating it on the shelf, using the library software and maintaining discipline in order to keep the decorum of the library. Most of these days we were busy orienting the Grade 4 students on all these matters.

As part of the information literacy program, I was introducing the different genres and sub-genres of literature to Grade 4 E students. With every genre and sub-genre described, they were asked to give an example of each and they came out with excellent examples. They talked about their favourite fiction and non-fiction books vehemently.


When it came to poetry I was curious to know how many of them were really interested in poetry. Kids usually love small poems, onomatopoeia, limericks and haiku. I believe some of these might even inspire children to create their own poetry. I asked the class if anyone has written a poem. To my surprise, two girls raised their hands and told they had. I asked them if they can recite it for the whole class. Saiyette Aima and Yvonne Marie Abraham came up with these beautiful poems upon my request.

Saiyette Aima





Yvonne Marie Abraham.



Until I heard this I never knew how much thrill a child-made poem could bring. I have no doubt that anyone who hears these kids will agree that they beautifully depicted their emotions. The candor and unique phrasing in the poetry are admirable. Children have the most vivid imagination and hence the best poets. 

One of the sheer joys of being a librarian are moments like these. Spending days with students, books and technology is quite enterprising. 







Friday, April 7, 2017

Authors talking about Literacy


Listed below are short videos of authors talking about literacy. This has been released by The Library of Congress. Please watch the videos. It explains views of different authors on the importance of reading and how it benefits one to shape his/her life.

Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry is known for her book The Giver which was inspired by her own life. She visits her father in a nursing home. He has lost all his past memories. Seeing him she feels that once memories are erased there will not be pain anymore. The book The Giver is based on this where she depicts a society where the past is erased from the inhabitants and they all live in a peaceful co-existence.The flaws inherent in such a society is brought into details later in the story. A society cannot exist without a connection with the past and lasting human relationships.This book has recently been made into a movie. The ambiguity of its ending is another interesting factor of the story. The reader is left to decide the ending of the story according to his/her imagination. This book is a great read for anyone who loves to read about a dystopian world like George Orwell's 1984.




Margo Jefferson







Raina Telgemeier

Riana Telgemeir is the author of the graphic novels Smile, Drama, and Sisters. There is no need to introduce this author to children as she is famous for these three books. Except for Drama, Smile and Sisters are true stories which she has taken from her own life.




Posted by Sreevidya Devanand

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Kindness In Small Packages




It is the beginning of the new academic year and we had cartons of newly arrived books in the library that needed to be sorted out, labeled and arranged on the shelves for the students and staff. I was sitting in a corner of the library doing this work when Ms. Madhur approached me with three girls. She told me they were there to help me with the work. I thought they might help me with two or three cartons of books.  Still, that would be a great help when we were running short of time.The children sat with me and I gave them careful instructions on how to do the work and what each one of them should do so that the work gets finished fast.

The kids were very enthusiastic, full of vigor and positivity. I started feeling positive too in their gracious presence. They were amazed to see the wonderful collection of books. We slowly started a healthy conversation about books, the things we like to do the most, how we spend our free time and so many other small things which usually doesn’t come to our mind but having a great impact on how we reflect ourselves as persons and in a group. I personally don't believe in the stereotyped question: what do you want to be when you grow up..Children get confused and their tastes and interests change as they grow up. So I asked about their ambitions. One of the girls Harsha who is very humble told me she wants to become a teacher.She always helps her mother and she likes to read Roald Dahl. Itrat, who is very energetic has not yet decided whether she should be an artist or a doctor. She is too much into reading that she finished a Geronimo Stilton while helping me. Her brother who was with us for some time is dreaming about his life as a scientist and is quite interested in farming. Kwaish, the third child surprised me by telling that she wants to become the prime minister of India. I was so enthralled to hear all this. Such wonderful dreams these kids have. Children are much more than what we think they are. I could see the spark in their eyes when they spoke about their dreams and ambitions. They do have a clear picture of what is happening in the world. I learned so much from them the two days I spent with them. They taught me how to stay calm in times of stress.

Each time I asked them to take a break, they humbly declined to say that they love doing this work more than taking a break doing nothing. In a world where everyone is busy with their own agenda, their own problems, these kids stand out. In a self-centered materialistic world, teaching our children to step beyond all that is a herculean task. The parents of these children deserve great appreciation in that respect.

I could hardly believe my eyes when we finished the entire tasks, the next day, at four in the evening. There were 29 cartons of books out of which we finished 25 in two days. Without out this three children, I couldn’t have made it possible at all. When I thanked them, they smiled and said: “there is no need to thank because these books are for us to read and we really enjoyed the work.” I left the school feeling very positive and radiant.


Acts of kindness come in small sizes and packages. It was a non-premeditated, and selfless act. To me, it was rather a Zen-like experience.  Achievement for a parent is how their kid treats others and how they see and feel about themselves.



“Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” 


Desmond Tutu.

Posted by Sreevidya Devanand

Friday, March 31, 2017

Welcome to the GEMS Modern Academy Resource Centre






“Access to books and the encouragement of the habit of reading: these two things are the first and the most necessary steps in education and librarians, teachers and parents all over the country know it. It is our children’s right and it is also our best hope and their best hope for the future.”

Michael Morpurgo
               
Dear Parents,

Welcome to the GEMS Modern Academy Resource Centre. We are gearing up for one more successful year with your child. I strongly believe that parents play a critical role in the reading habits and literacy development of their children. Children no matter what their age is, are attracted to works of fiction. Even if they are not ready to accept the world of written words, they will always be thrilled to listen to books that are read to them. It is better to make them involved with books at an early age to inculcate a passion for reading in future. 

As librarians, we can always help them find a book of their choice and interest level and give suggestions on how to go about searching a good book. We expose them to a variety of interactive books and different genres. With our wonderful software Destiny Quest, students connect with peers to swap book reviews and recommendations. Parents can also play an equal role as librarians to develop a child’s interest in reading. See what your child is reading and what they want to read. Check out their book reviews and reports. Reading can be equally fun with non-fiction materials too. Encourage them to read comic books, newspapers, and magazines. It will be great if you can spend some time with your child to read together and ask them to point out words which they find difficult to understand. To flourish as readers students need to think further about what they have read in a book. Just have a small talk about the books, ask them about the characters, themes or the exciting and intriguing plots. That way reading becomes a family activity and most of the children I am sure will enjoy spending time with their parents. And when you ignite strong and positive feelings about your school library you communicate a powerful message to your child.



Keep an eye out. We have some exciting programs and activities planned for your child this year. I hope your child enjoys reading as many books as possible developing his/her reading skills. Looking forward to working with you and your child this academic year. And please leave your valuable comments and suggestions and queries if any. We are always happy to help and hear from you.


Posted By Sreevidya Devanand

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Introduction to GMA Resource Centre





About Resource Centre.

At the Resource Centre, we innovate, explore, collaborate and learn together. We thrive to create a generation of confident independent learners. The Resource Centre plays a pivotal role in supporting the students by encouraging them to read learn and write through innovative approaches and learning opportunities. It supports the school curriculum, meets the individual needs of the students, develops their information literacy skills and helps them make informed decisions. The competencies they acquire through information literacy equips them with critical thinking skills and an ability to think beyond the realm of curriculum and textbooks. The Resource Centre also helps in fostering the changes in the education sector which in turn has a direct impact on professional development for the teachers.



Using the Library.

Our services are readily available on all working days from 7 50 am to 4.00 pm. During the summer break (July-August) library will be open from 8 am to 2 pm from Sunday to Thursday. Students and new staff can join our library once they receive their identification card from the school. This card will be valid until the end of the course/service. It is necessary that students should bring the card to borrow books. Students can borrow one book at a time for a period of two weeks. But they can come and exchange the books any time once they finish reading the book. Books after two weeks if not finished can be renewed. If a book is lost it has to be either replaced with another book (which is in good condition) which has the same price as that of the lost book.Students are responsible for handling books with care since they are for everyone to share.An overdue book means a student cannot borrow another book until the book is returned. If a book is lost payment or a replacement will be requested from the parents.

Follett Destiny.

The library uses Follett Destiny Library Manager to manage our library resources. The link can be accessed through my learning portal from student’s and staff’s accounts. We orient the new students at the beginning of every academic year to make maximum benefit from Follett destiny which has a wide range of collection of e-books, graphic novels, databases and other resources that help in curriculum development. It is very easy to navigate and is completely browser-based which means it can be accessed from anywhere you have an internet connection or even from your mobile or tablet. Destiny is more than a research tool. You can rate and put reviews for books, check your issue history, can see the status of a particular book if it is available in the library or not. There are options to search by author, title, ISBN, material type, keyword search, and series. We have both paid and free online databases which will give access to online resources. There is also a wonderful facility to recommend a book to your friends or colleagues.  Another feature which makes this software stand out is that we can search a book according to the Lexile level. Explore the wonderful options that give you fun means of discovery and meaning. Check out a good book from the circulation desk and enjoy reading!

Our Team

You can contact any four of us if help is needed for anything related to the library.

Sreevidya Devanand: sreevidya.d_mhs@gemsedu.com
Shirin Pawane : malbush1@hotmail.com

We are looking forward to continuing to share our learning journey with you. Please feel free to leave comments.

Posted By Sreevidya Devanand

Sunday, March 26, 2017

New Event: Makerspace in GMA

Makerspace: Fostering Creativity and Innovation

We are transforming The Resource Centre to start Makerspace from the scratch. Our library will soon be getting transformed with creativity. Let us hope this new event will provide an outstanding opportunity for synergy in our new learning environment.



Feed the Soul: Let Creativity Speak.

A few things make us human beings different from any other species. One of the traits that make human beings unique is the power to think and create. 2000 years ago the famous philosopher Aristotle wrote, “We are rational animals pursuing knowledge for its own sake. We live by art and reasoning.”

Art is creativity and creativity is art. Ever since we learned to write we documented whatever was created in the form of art and writings. This later developed the idea of libraries to provide an organized access to a collection of materials for informational needs of individuals and groups. Libraries flourished all over the world and it evolved from time to time. If we look into the transition of libraries from clay tablets to digital tablets we come to know about the fascinating development libraries have undergone through ages and where it stands now. New tools and technologies have been invented and libraries we see now everywhere is undergoing revolutionary changes around the globe. Libraries are no more a space to stock books and circulate them. They are rather spaces of innovation and creativity. Makerspace is one such revolutionary change in the world of libraries. It is offering vast and exciting opportunities to the world of education.

What is a makerspace?

"A makerspace is a collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools.  These spaces are open to kids, adults, and entrepreneurs and have a variety of maker equipment including 3D printers, laser cutters, cnc machines, soldering irons and even sewing machines.  A makerspace however doesn’t need to include all of these machines or even any of them to be considered a makerspace.  If you have cardboard, legos and art supplies you’re in business.  It’s more of the maker mindset of creating something out of nothing and exploring your own interests that’s at the core of a makerspace.  These spaces are also helping to prepare those who need the critical 21st century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  They provide hands on learning, help with critical thinking skills and even boost self-confidence.  Some of the skills that are learned in a makerspace pertain to electronics, 3d printing, 3D modeling, coding, robotics and even woodworking,   Makerspaces are also fostering entrepreneurship and are being utilized as incubators and accelerators for business startups."

Source :


The best way for students to learn is making them engaged. Different students have different capabilities. I strongly believe that there will be only very few students even if any who will not love to explore, innovate and create something of their own. They can identify the problems, find solutions, work on it, collaborate and communicate with peers. Difficult tasks which seem impossible will be much easier when it is a collective effort and problems get more structured and can be solved through multiple perspectives. When technology is integrated with foresight and intended for specific goals, it develops the potential of students in their learning in a unique and refined manner. Makerspace is one such technology where learning and creativity come closer together fostering skills and interest in learning.

Look out for some of our exciting and wonderful Makerspace events during this academic year.

Posted By Sreevidya Devanand

Peter Lerangis at GMA

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific frie...