March 29, 2013

Collecting Artifacts in India

Imagine a box of artifacts for students to use during research.

      The other day on Karen Bonanno's I came across this gem about how simple artifacts can support student inquiry in the context of PBL (Project Based Learning). 
      Teachers (and school librarians) can collect artifacts to activate and support student inquiry. For a research unit on India, students can observe a multitude of artifacts such as a flag, map, or currency. For example, as students examine a flag from India, they might observe and wonder the meaning behind the saffron, white, and green colors. They might also wonder the story about the wheel, or chakra, in the flag's center. Better yet, students could also tap into prior knowledge and make connections to the meaning of our own red,white and blue in the American flag. 

     As students generate their own questions, the teacher/librarian can record them for further work. Student-generated questions might result in deeper inquiry because the students feel more ownership of their own questions.  
      As school librarian, it's important to make everything in the school library accessible to the entire learning community. As I consider what Indian artifacts to collect for my school library, how can I assure fair access to the artifacts? I'm thinking of creating a couple of Artifact Boxes that classroom teachers can borrow and use as they teach about India. Furthermore, I can digitize the Indian artifacts by taking pictures of each item and uploading the pics for easy access by all.   
Image source:

March 23, 2013

Safe and sensible in India

After reading some scary and tragic incidents involving women in India, I've been thinking about my own personal safety.  Violence to women happens everywhere, not just India. When I look back on my own life, I am grateful. I have always returned home safe and sound.

I've lived here in the Bronx New York for more than 20 years and I have a healthy sense of paranoia. Here are six safety tips I want to share, and not just for travel in India, but everywhere, including my own home town:

First is the Golden Rule: Be friendly but don't get friendly. What do I mean by this double-talk? I mean don't get familiar with anyone you don't know. 

Second, never accept unsolicited food or drink from anyone. I'll buy and open my own bottled water, thank you very much. 

Third, keep your passport and valuables stashed out of sight. In the past I've relied on waist packs and always felt safe. But now I'm thinking it screams MONEY to pickpockets. 

Fourth, keep a couple photocopies of your passport and driver's license. You might even keep a picture of your passport in your mobile phone. 

Fifth, what happens if you lose (gasp!) your mobile phone? How many of you have actually memorized important phone numbers? I cannot tell you my husband's cell nor my own mother's cell phone numbers. So it's a good idea to write important phone numbers on a piece of paper. I also store important phone numbers in my Google Drive as a virtual backup. 

Lastly, always lock your hotel room door. Keep the door-chain thingy on too; when someone knocks on your door, use caution and common sense before opening. 

Do I sound like a paranoid woman? I really don't care. I intend to have fun and return home safe and sound. What other safety tips do you have? Please share.

image source: Carey, Chris. luggage6.jpg. 10/31/1999. Pics4Learning. 23 Mar 2013