Monday, September 18, 2017

Teaching Resources and Reader's Guide: See You In the Cosmos

See You in the Cosmos
Jack Cheng
Dial, 2017

In case you missed it, I wrote my review of See You in the Cosmos in the blog early this month. Two book bloggers also posted their responses and reactions to the book.  Teacher Cris' review has an "audio recording" using a Golden iPod and Philippine Board on Books for Young People President, Tarie Sabido's review includes a line up of cool activities for teachers and librarians. Needless to say, there are so many things to enjoy in this book besides, Alex's engaging thoughts about life, love and rocket science.

Here now are my recommended resources and guide for the avid reader, the teacher who will pick up the book for the class's reading list and the librarian who will discuss the book during the monthly book club.

It's not Rocket Science. But it is!

Build reading context about rockets and space shuttles. Alex's adventure begins the day he dreamed of launching a rocket into space. By joining an adult community of space and rocket science enthusiasts, Alex learned important lessons in building rockets, making mistakes and taking second chances. In The Chemistry of Rockets   a video explaining how rockets work, middle grade readers of the book can take a closer look at rocket science. has DIY activities on making rockets that are applicable for entries to Science Fairs. NASA has a timeline  of successful and disastrous space shuttle programs in the 20th century. Launching rockets into space isn't as cool as it seems to be when we see them on TV and in the movies.

Discussion question: What fueled Alex to launch a rocket into space?

Literary Link: Make a character chart or road map about Alex. 

Use a mind map or graphic organizer to map Alex's character before he launched the rocket, during the course of his journey and at the end of the road trip he had with seemingly nice adults. Infographic apps like and My Poplet can also be used. Below are guide questions in making the map, graphic organizer or infographic.

Who was the Alex you met at the start of novel?

What ups and downs did he experience along the way? 

Who are the people Alex met that changed the way he looks the world? 

What events in his journey confused him and inspired him to demand and seek the truth from his elders and from life in general? 

How did he deal with his mother's condition? 

Describe Alex at the end of the novel? How different is this Alex from the start of the novel?

Extending Understanding of the Text

Ask yourself:

What trips or journeys have you experienced that changed the way you view life or affirmed that life is worth living for?

How did the journey changed your views and beliefs?

Does the change in view or of belief in life move you to do something? If yes, what is your course of action? If not, why?

Carl Sagan and Modern Day Explorations

Carl Sagan, the scientist and not Alex's dog, is a real life character that made a big influence in Alex's fascination in space, astronomy and rockets. Figuratively, Carl Sagan is the representation of Alex's philosophical nature and his penchant for documenting the journey towards understanding the truth. A philosopher and scientist, Carl Sagan inspired others to be curious, courageous, humble, open and to take risks.  These are characteristics we find in explorers and thinkers. These are the same qualities I find in Alex at every turn of the plot until the final chapters of the novel.

If anything, Jack Cheng, reminded me to continue pursuing dreams, silly or not, and to be like Alex or Carl Sagan who could wonder at the vastness of space and be in awe at the smallness of humanity against the backdrop of the greatness of the universe.

Just how relevant is Carl Sagan to modern science? The Smithsonian writes about him in 2014 and the legacy he left behind.  Even the title of the book has the word, Cosmos, a homage to Carl Sagan and his enlightening documentary show on TV back in the 70s and in the 80s.

Just how relevant is Carl Sagan to humanity?  Listen to his narration about humanity and space in the Pale Blue Dot, a recording made at NASA while the Golden Voyager beams itself from millions of light years away from where it was launched.

Discussion question: What modern day explorations are moving and shaking science and technology to new directions for humanity's progress and salvation?

Writing Activities:
1. Keep a journal where you record daily musings that may look or sound mundane. But, on closer inspection, these musings can grow into insights that reflect existential thoughts and ideas that span space and time. It may be a topic for a future essay in academic or personal purposes.

2. Blog about daily explorations with the self and the world around you. You will never know what you will discover just around the bend or in the recesses of your mind.

3. Take photos that interest you. It may be an object, an event a person you like. These may be jump off points for stories waiting to be told.

These are all for now. Until next book review, resources and guide.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

STARS in a Teachers' Workshop

As a writer of children's stories, I am always thrilled to know when teachers use my books for classroom teaching and in workshops with peers and colleagues. Teacher Marose Lagunsad sent me these photos late in August showing me how she rallied a group of teachers to read my early reading series, Start Right Reading Series Kindergarten Level, using it as a spring board for Picture Walk.

Picture Walk is a reading comprehension strategy that builds decoding skills, comprehension and literature appreciation among readers. When teachers are engaged in doing an activity that they can use in the classroom, it is likely that they will try it out in their classrooms too. Thank you, Teacher Marose for the support!

One of the books in the series, Zoo Bee Doo, tells the story of a girl who got lost in the zoo.

The Start Right Reading Series Kindergarten Level is a learning package for Kindergarten learners. It has 12 books, a teaching manual and parents' guide for classroom and home school instruction.

The Start Right Reading Series (Gagatiga and Solina-Wolf, Lampara Books 2014) is available at the booth of Lampara Books currently on sale at the 38th Manila International Book Fair, SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.

Friday, September 15, 2017

#milclicks: Illusions, Perceptions and Jinkee Pacquio

Photo taken on August 25, 2017 along Alabang, SLEX
Here is a MIL activity in my workshop during the National Conference on Technology in Education (NCTED) last September 13, 2017.

Using the 5 Critical Questions in Understanding Media Messages by Media Audit, participants analyze the media message of the billboard ad and synthesize their findings into a commentary. The five critical questions are:

1. Who created this message?
2. What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
3. How might different people understand this message differently?
4. Why is this message being sent?
5. What point of view is represented in, or omitted from, this message?

Group Activity 1 - What is wrong with this photo?

Photo: Jinkee Pacquio as Belo commercial billboard model

Inquiry Question: Why was a billboard used to relay the media message?

Use the 5 critical questions to understand the message of the billboard, its purpose, form and function. Write a one page commentary and post it on your Facebook Timeline.

Use #milclicks after your commentary.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

New Lampara Books in the 2017 Manila International Book Fair

I will be present during the book signing from September 13-14, 2017 and the formal launching of our book, The Day Max Flew Away (Gagatiga and Tejido) on September 17, 2017. See you! Say hi and don't be a stranger

National Conference on Technology in Education: INNOVATED 2017

I am deeply humbled to be in this roster of passionate educators. I will be running a workshop on Media in Social Media that will cover Media and Information Literacy Skills and Web 2.0 Technology in teaching and instruction.

Join over 300 educators in shaping the future of education. The National Conference on Technology in Education: INNOVATED. September 12-14, 2017, SMX Convention Center Manila. 

Zooming in on the Relearn Literacy Session on Media and Information Literacy, you will find three topics on MIL: search strategies, understanding media, social media and smart strategies in navigating Web 2.0, and teaching Media and Information Literacy.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Teacher On Center Stage: Fe Matullano Lustanas

Teacher Fe at the Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. Bayaning Pilipinong Guro Awards Night
The blog's featured Teacher for the Month of September is Fe Matullano Lustanas. Teacher Fe is the recipient of the Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. Bayaning Pilipinong Guro in 2012 for her initiative in educating street children and out of school youths in Paranaque City through Journey of Hope and Education Under the Bridge in La Huerta. In April 2013, she set up the Kabayani Community Training Center, a parents' education program in San Dionisio Paranaque City.

Why am I teacher?
After high school graduation I obeyed my mother Nanay Conos to go to Manila from Iloilo to become a teacher. It was a simple request of my mother which I fulfilled when I graduated college in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education.

If not a teacher, I would be...

A medical technologist. I love science. I love taking care of people. But, since it is my mother's wish that I become a teacher, I switched to taking a degree in education in college. I consider myself a teacher community volunteer who advocates education especially for children in the mission area.

Teacher Fe in action: Journey of Hope and Education Under the Bridge
Right now, I am a public school teacher teaching grade one in the morning and kindergarten in the afternoon. I'm also an Alternative Learning System Instructional Manager for older children and out of school youths in our community.  I have been doing this since January 2010. After 2 years I was not absorbed by our local board, but it was the start of our mission. My husband and I have been involved in this mission since 2012. Luckily it is sustainable and it has been going strong! We are now on our eighth year of missionary work a teachers for children and out of school youths. 

Success Stories Worth Sharing 
Through Education Under the Bridge, we have weekly activities every Saturday afternoon which caters to 2 - 4 years old children in formal school and out of school youths living in the coastal areas of Paranaque, Las Pinas and nearby areas. Our curriculum is based on the K-12 program of the Department of Education.

With Education Under the Bridge (EUB), we continuously help 12 out of school youths before and they are now in formal school. For 7 years now, Monica Tan, a mute and deaf child has not attended school but, religiously she attends our EUB program.

Teacher Fe, as she is fondly called by friends and colleagues, appears in the radio program Voice of the Teacher which airs every Saturday at 1PM over at DWDD 1134 Khz.
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