Category Archives: Education

2 Ways of Integrating Technology in the Classroom

I have read quite a number of articles on guidelines when integrating technology in teaching and learning, but I think the initial mental process in tech integration has been given little attention. Presenting my 2 ways of integrating technology in teaching and learning courtesy of #thoughtsonthetreadmill.

1. Lesson 2 App (Pedagogical Approach)

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As educators, we are hardwired to first think of our lessons. After being confronted by the thought of this lesson, we scavenge through our idea box for amazing ways to present this idea – in education terms, pedagogy. In our idea box, we discover apps we have stumbled upon and see how these apps can be a medium for delivering our lessons to our students to make teaching and learning more engaging.

In this pedagogical approach, we develop the philosophy that technology is not the end. It reminds us that it is just a means to our end: learning. We are not at the beck and call of a new app that came out on the app store.

2. App 2 Lesson (Engagement Approach)

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Another way to build a personal curation of apps for teaching and learning is when we stumble upon amazing apps. These apps excite us because we realize that we could use this for a specific lesson and make our it more engaging. The important thing here is that we are able to connect the app with a lesson.

We need to be wary that upon becoming excited over an app, we end up veering away from our intended lesson standards just to accommodate this hip new app we discovered.

However, apps can be real game changers. App 2 Lesson can modify (Puentedura, 2013) lessons not in the way it changes the curriculum, but it changes the way we assess our students. Students are not anymore assessed by how well they memorize and explain concepts, but they are able to translate these theories into more tangible results thanks to technology. We don’t just anymore teach film theories, but we can now teach them basic film making.

General philosophy in tech integration: Apps are just a means, not ends.

Happy integrating! 🙂

 

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Adobe and Education

Adobe seems to have taken the education route as well in promoting its products through their Adobe Spark apps. As a teacher in a 1:1 school, this support from Adobe is very welcome.

Let me first admit that I am not an avid user of Adobe mobile apps. I am familiar with Adobe Voice (now labeled as Adobe Spark Video), I love it, but have not integrated it in my classes as of yet. I do have some ideas on how to use these Adobe Spark apps in school.

Adobe Spark Apps

I think Adobe aptly names these apps “Spark” apps because their amazing templates are perfect to “spark” the creative fire in its users.

Adobe Spark Post

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Adobe Spark Post allows you to create amazing posters that promote a product, inspire, or even educate in a single image. The templates are diverse, but generally contemporary, that it is attractive to any viewer. It is similar to other amazing photo editing apps like Studio (Free) or Retype (Paid), but what Spark Post has that the other doesn’t it is its integration with Adobe Lightroom mobile app and animating your picture with built-in amazing transitions. You can then save your creation as a picture (without animation), as a Live Photo (for iOS devices), or as a video, and share it to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

For school, you can ask your students to use this app to create a poster promoting the importance of learning a specific lesson. They will then have to be able to send the message in a brief, but witty statement, and choose an image that matches the message. Of course you can do other things.

Adobe Spark Video (formerly known as Adobe Voice)

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Adobe Spark Video enables everyone to become an educator, a storyteller, and an inspirational speaker. It has amazing storyboard templates for inspirational videos, educational how-to videos, and narrative videos. The app itself already has a pool of rights-free icons, images, and music that you can already use without worrying about copyright issues.

As an educational tool, this is a no-brainer. You can easily use this app in the following subjects:

  • Social Science/History Classes: You can ask students to create an advocacy video, an informational video on a specific period in history, or a how-to video on economics.
  • English/Language Classes: Easily integrate with Social Science for their videos and assess their script writing abilities. You can also use this for creative writing where they turn their stories in videos.
  • Math Classes: Ask students to create a how-to video in solving word problems.
  • Science Classes: Ask students to summarize their understanding of a theory or concept using a how-to video, or even advocacy video.

There are tons of outputs our students can create using this app. What limits its use is our own lack of imagination as teachers.

Think outside the box, because the world outside it is infinite.

 

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4 Qualities of an Effective Educator

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Last Sunday, I posted this photo of a Philippine Daily Inquirer article that caught my attention on my Facebook wall. Within 24 hours, the post receive more than a hundred likes. Most of my Facebook friends are former and current students, and of course, fellow educators. I’m no social media sensation, and I would like to believe that 100 likes is above average. The opinion that great (or effective) teachers guarantee education sounds pretty much like common sense among my circle of [Facebook] friends.

I would like to categorically state at the beginning of this post that I am not a Metrobank Foundation recipient of Best Teacher Award, nor any award for that matter. Heck, I did not graduate college and post-graduate cum laude. I did pass the Licensure Examination for Teachers, and my score is way beyond the passing mark, but not Top 10 worthy. The only credential I have is my passion to teach, and a few “Thank You” notes from my students. Take my post with caution. Surely, I will draw some flak from critics who would beg to disagree with my points. Then again, can I not be entitled with my Platonic criteria of an effective educator?

1. Innovative and Creative.

Effective teachers know the importance of engaging students in their lessons. Primary and Secondary education is about making sure our students are learning, as opposed to tertiary education where students are independent and supposedly self-motivated already to learn. We instill more skills (e.g. thinking, writing, speaking, listening, expressing) and fundamental concepts understanding than bombarding them with information.

Lecturing is totally fine. There are lessons that will require a straight-out lecture. In other cases where we can be creative, we ought to be creative. Assessments can be innovative. For example, when assessing students’ understanding of the Shakespearean language, I thought of adopting the #15secondShakespeare where celebrities read lyrics of contemporary songs in a Shakespearean way. After learning the iambic pentameter, I asked my students to create their own #15secondShakespeare. They were to record a video of themselves reciting lines from famous songs in iambic pentameter the best way they can. I enjoyed grading their submissions, and I am quite sure, despite the shame they felt recording themselves, they enjoyed it, too.

Another activity which my students loved was “Mollified Mondays.” They especially look forward to Mondays where I play a relatively unpopular song (usually songs I listened to when I was in high school and college) in class, and they answer five comprehension questions about the song. They loved this! They say they also learned to appreciate [old] songs better through this activity.

Lessons and assessments can be fun, and at the same time educational.

Tip: Never forget your job as an educator. When you go through your social media accounts, read articles on the internet, and watch TV, you will find ideas how to make your lessons more interesting. I got the #15secondShakespeare idea reading feature articles from Mashable. You can also get ideas from Lifehacker. You can also create your own online “magazine” collection consolidating articles from your favorite media source through Feedly

2. Amazing Metacognitive Skills.

Most of the feedback of students of their teachers is that they have a difficult time understanding their teacher. The reason is that these teachers’ metacognitive skills are almost nonexistent. What is metacognition?

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Definition of metacognition according to Google.

Metacognition refers to the awareness of one’s thought processes. An effective teacher can model his or her thinking/thought process. This requires a lot of reflection on the teacher himself or herself understands his or her own lesson. For example, if I am going to teach my students about avoiding Misplaced Modifiers, I will have to model my LOGICAL thinking. This is how I would sound like teaching “metacognitively”:

Joe escaped from the cockroach running toward the door.

  • What is the first thing I need to know? Of course, first, I need to find the modifier. Now, where is that modifier in that sentence? They are adjectives in the sentences, or an additional phrase or clause.
  • Now that I have identified the modifier, I need to know what it is supposed to modify. How do I do that? Let’s turn the modifier into a question. For example, the modifier is “running toward the door.” The question you should ask is “Who is running toward the door? Is it the cockroach or Joe?” I think I have to go with Joe since he is escaping, and if you’re escaping you want to get out through the door. 

You can hone your metacognition skills by “thinking out loud.” Play that Ed Sheeran song please.

Tip: You can read this article on Edutopia to give you ideas on how to develop metacognition among your students, and perhaps yourself as well. Here is a good article on Metacognition 101

3. Patient.

Teachers are known to be patient because effective teachers are patient. Give me a name of a teacher who is impatient with his or her students, and I can tell you straight that he or she is not an effective teacher. We educators do not teach the already intelligent. The intelligent students learn concepts in no time. Authentic educators teach those who do not understand because that is where learning happens. Here are some ways to start a patient teacher revolution:

  • Patient teachers do not hold recitations. He or she intentionally calls those students who appear to be confused. When you spend time to teach one confused student, you teach the rest of the class as well. You won’t bore the intelligent students because you will be asking their help to explain it. Classmates are great teachers because they can explain concepts using their language.
  • Patient teachers painstakingly correct misconceptions on written assessments. As an English teacher, I spend time letting out the Grammar Nazi in me–striking down every grammatical error, sentence error, and mechanical error with my trusty colored pen. In Maths, you could do the same by looking for the spot in the solution where the student made the mistake and bring it to his or her attention. Why I do this is because I learned to write a thesis paper in college because of my patient teachers who took time to edit my papers.
  • Patient teachers do not laugh at students’ wrong answers. As educators, we do not assume that students already know what they know. We have to be always open to the possibility that not all students know what they ought to know. This is why you are their teacher at that point in time–it is your duty to inform that student, it is your duty and mine to educate that student, and not to laugh and humiliate him or her.
  • Patient teachers know to scrap out topics to focus on more important ones. I had always believed that content is more important than mastery until I realized that mastery of skills is more important as I matured as an educator. With information accessible more than ever with just a simple Google search, the teacher’s role is not anymore to teach as much, but his or role is already to teach with depth. This means that we teach learning skills. They can use these skills when they self-study.

Tip: Pray this:

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4. Humble.

An effective educator is humble. Student feedback is just as important as your immediate superior’s feedback. Where I work, students are asked for feedback in the middle of the academic year. Teachers do not get to read these comments until the end of the year for fear of taking negative feedback against one’s students. I strongly believe, however, that a humble teacher will not react this way.

I take time to ask my students for feedback and encourage them to give me ways I can improved my teaching. I have had comments like I have favoritism, or my lectures are boring. It takes me years of practice to get rid of these impressions. I tried to be creative in my presentations and really put my heart into them. I place funny comics, grammar nazi jokes, and even created a fictional character Gen. Guidelines. (I hope you got the joke. Did I mention I was corny?)

A teacher never takes a negative comment from a student personally. It is a feedback. If we assess our students regularly, our students also assess us. We are all hardwired to evaluate. Our students also evaluate each time how well we are teaching them. They know the best way how they should be taught. Getting their feedback is gold. We should make it a habit to ask them once in a while, even in the middle of the class, to give us feedback, because again the point is for them to learn.

Because of traditional teaching methods and classroom culture, students have become afraid to admit that they do not understand. A learning classroom encourages students to be simple enough to say they need further clarification on the lesson. This will only happen if we do not punish lack of understanding, if we do not punish low scores, if we do not punish wrong answers. Both students and teachers should be humble. For the former, humble to admit a lack of understanding; and for the latter, humble to accept the reality that you failed to make that student understand.

Tip: Constantly remind yourself that you are not perfect, but you can only achieve perfection thanks to feedback. Watch this video. The context is improving the company, but you as the CEO of your own classroom, you can also adapt the same concept. 

Last words.

All these four qualities are offshoots of one sole goal of a teacher: To make the students learn, understand. If all teachers have this one same goal in mind, I believe quality education can be achieved. Students stop becoming just another statistic, or just mere names in a list. Students start becoming persons we need to take care of. All these for the achievement of common good.

If there is anything that Teacher Education Institutions need to revamp in the formation and education of teachers is to add 3 units on “Qualities of Effective Teachers,” the other side of an amazing educator. Values? They don’t teach these anymore.

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Common Sense School Leadership

I don’t have a Masters degree in Educational Management or Leadership or any similar-sounding degree, but I would like to think that I have developed my management style by experience and by common sense.

  1. A leader’s goal is to mentor his/her subordinates to be better than him/her. Leadership is not in the hands of the few that continuity is sacrificed. Continuity is important in any organization so that leadership is given to a good mix of the “old” and the “new” generation.giphy
  2. A leader has to constantly give feedback without sugar coating. Honesty is important. Everyone wants feedback. They look like they don’t, but do not underestimate those under your care: They actually want to know whether the paper they sent you is okay or not okay. Don’t delay the feedback; they appreciate hearing soon despite their nervousness to hear what you will say to them.tumblr_inline_nbcmfqkFpa1smnrq8
  3. Constantly receive and demand feedback from them. It’s not easy to take in negative feedback, but this is essential for your growth and theirs. As constructive criticism becomes an internal culture, everyone in the team grows—your members and you. A nice by-product is the elimination of backstabbing culture.tumblr_m4u0y3jd391rwcc6bo1_500
  4. You are not perfect. Apologize. In relation to the previous item, always remember that you are not perfect—that I am not perfect. The superiority complex of thinking that you are always right destroys the culture of openness. It doesn’t just destroy openness, but also creates a wall between you and your members. Your degree is just on paper; don’t throw your weight around. Learn to say “sorry” to those you have offended, or embarrassed.tumblr_n2pm6kcasL1rcny7ko1_500
  5. Empower those in your care and train reflective leaders. Know your people. Discover their talents, their interests, and strengths, and tap on them as need be. Even if you can do it yourself, delegate the task. Allow them to make mistakes, so that they can also learn from them. When you mentor them, you can train them to be reflective leaders, capable of identifying their own errors and correct them accordingly. In this way, you don’t even have to be the one to tell them; they will tell you.i-made-a-terrible-mistake-and-i-need-you
  6. Respect others’ expertise. Key to a united team is not to trump others by questioning their decisions on their expertise. Maybe you just don’t understand their field that’s why you can’t see their point. Your Doctors degree does not negate another person’s expertise. Remember, too, that expertise is not necessarily just determined by educational attainment.thatsamazing
  7. Be a good example. As you try to train future leaders (because we know that some leaders are not born, but made), it is important that you serve as a model for what and how a leader should be. inspire
  8. There’s a time for everything. There is a time to laugh with your team members, and time to be serious. Know when to be friendly, and know when you need to put your foot down.Batman-Robin-Green-Arrow-Laugh-In-Old-School-Cartoon-Gif
  9. Think like a parent and friend. See your members as your own children. You cannot play favorites. Scold them when they need to be scolded. Comfort them when they need to be comforted, treat them to a simple meal (food always marks celebrations and sharing), cheer them up, surprise them with little things. See them as both as a parent and a friend.giphy-2
  10. Empathize. Do what they do. Put yourself in their shoes. It is important that you know where they are coming from. Be sensitive to how they feel when you scold them (maybe you misjudged them), when you joke around with them (maybe it was a bad joke), when you give them a task on top of their workload (maybe you have given him/her the same task every time), when you play favorites especially to your friends.tumblr_ml690vnsO91r3q8v7o1_500

I am not a perfect leader, but I believe that these are the things I thought an effective school leader should be. I could be wrong. I drew these from my experience of being under a superior, from hearing complaints of colleagues, and from seeing how other leaders are. I may not live by these principles 100% of the time, but these guide me in my leadership.

After you have trained them to be better than you, what’s next? Let go. Let go of your position, so that there will be a free spot on top for them to fill. Sense of fulfillment—priceless.

Common sense leadership? In the end, it might not be as common after all.

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Ma-ARTe Manila Museums Field Guide – An Attempt

I have appreciated and gotten high looking at the art in Louvre and Musee D’Orsay in Paris, the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Vatican Museums in Rome, and the Met in New York, but I have not even visited the museums (at least in the age of my enlightenment) of my own country. Mind you though, my Bachelor’s thesis is about Philippine contemporary art. I only managed to appreciate them from coffee table books, but never saw them in the museum. I carry this guilt in me, and a greater guilt within me for being lazy to just go discouraged by traffic, and parking woes.

I finally had a chance to go to even to not just one, but FIVE! museums in just one day. Our school’s MAPEH department organized a museum visit during the semestral break for the Arts and Music teachers. When I heard about it, I insisted to go with them as long as the vehicle can bring one more passenger, and that I will pay for my own meal and entrance fees. I was given permission – YES! – and we were off on that happy Tuesday.

Ms. MG, our MAPEH Coordinator prepared an amazing brochure (for the lack of downloadable brochures online), and I am sharing it with you here:

Museum Field Trip Brochure Outside Museum Field Trip Brochure Inside

The art quotations are well-chosen because they spark ideas.

Let me now run through with you what to expect in each museum.

  1. The Museum at De La Salle University – Manila
    • 2401 Taft Ave., Metro Manila (2nd Floor Yuchengco Building)
    • 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Mondays to Fridays)
    • 9:00 AM – 12:00 NN (Saturdays)
    • Fee: P25.00 (Filipinos), P50.00 (Foreigners), Free for DLSU employees
    • Suggested duration of visit: 1 hour
    • Picture-taking not allowed. Bags are left with the guard.

During our visit, the focus of the chosen art featured in the museum was allegories. The museum was accented by various statements on visual allegory. One example I like is:

A visual allegory communicates its meaning through symbolic figures. Reflecting an event or story of our societies, an artwork feature allegorical figures or symbols, offers meaning beneath the surface level.

Inside, you are given samples of Ang Kiukok’s sketches, Botong Francisco’s rendition of patriotism, BenCab’s impressions of the Filipino, and many other samplers from Filipino contemporary artists. It was great to start with this museum because it was not overwhelming, but caffeinated enough our sleepy interests to build a slow but steady awakening into the addictive high of art which we were about to see at The Metropolitan Museum.

The Museum

2. The Metropolitan Museum of Manila 

    • Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, Roxas Blvd. Manila
    • 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM (Mondays to Saturdays)
    • Fee: P100 (Regular), P80 (Senior Citizen and Differently-abled)
    • Free guided tours on Saturdays at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM
    • Suggested duration of visit: 2 hours
    • Must not miss: Installation Art, Joya, Sanso, and Saguil
    • Picture-taking not allowed. Bags are allowed inside.

When you arrive at The Met, you are greeted by a jolly plump guard who is willing to be comedic to entertain the seemingly serious visitors who want to critique art. He’s the best comic relief to a highly intellectual activity. Sadly, this museum is not academe friendly – no discounts for teachers and students. Read: “Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas”. Kidding! 🙂 I understand fully how expensive it is to curate and preserve art, especially those gold artifacts in their vault at the basement of The Met! WOW!

The highlight of this museum is that the Philippine contemporary art pieces are organized by period. The Met visit will give you a glimpse of the artistic trend during a span of a decade or so. It shows you also how an artist’s style evolves as new philosophies are introduced. Does the artist imbibe the new style, or does he stick to his own?

You will love the Juan Luna and Amorsolo samples to abstract artists like Hernando Ocampo, and other more contemporary artists who already exhibit “installation art”. The latter must be the highlight of your visit rather than the paintings themselves.

Of course, The Met visit is never complete without the visit to their vault at the basement where they keep the precious metals and pottery. Along the corridor that divides the two media are religious artifacts and statues date all the way back to the 18th Century. On one side, the smell of old pottery work pervades. You will be amazed by the hand-made variety of pottery work throughout the ages. On the other side, appreciate the gold accessories that pre-Spanish inhabitants of our country molded, designed and wore to differentiate the classes in their tribe. They look like cheap designs, but appreciate the intricacy of the details placed into the molding in an era without technology. It is only from this perspective that you will appreciate this genre of art.

The Met

3. The National Museum of the Philippines

    • Padre Burgos Drive, Rizal Park, Manila
    • 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Tuesdays to Sundays)
    • P150 (Adult), P120 (Senior Citizen), P50 (Student with valid ID) – See website for big group discounts, Free during National Museum Month (October)
    • Picture-taking allowed, bags to be left with guard (small body bags okay)
    • Suggested duration of visit: 2 hours
    • Must not miss: Spoliarium, Manansala pieces, Joya, Botong Francisco, Hidalgo, Villanueva collections

This museum should not be missed by every Filipino. It showcases all Philippine art works. It highlights and gives the deserved throne at the center of the museum Juan Luna’s Spoliarium. It deserves the visitors critical eyes. Let your eyes wander across the award-winning painting in Madrid (second place is taken by another Filipino artist, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo). Appreciate the chiaroscuro – discover the source of light, where it falls, and leaves the plane. Appreciate the perspective, the detail, the edges, the direction of the strokes. Purposeful art and techniques make the experience of the beholder a little more exciting I should say.

In your stay, enjoy the amazing early cubist-realist tendencies of Vicente Manansala in portraying the evangelization of the Philippines. Feast your eyes on the abstract art of Joya – the play of shapes and shades. Compare that with H. R. Ocampo’s style. Observe his sketches of how he chose his colors and patterns. Appreciate abstract art by matching the artwork title with the actual art. See how the title reflects the choice of colors, pressure placed on the stroke, the overlapping of paint, the choice of medium.

Simply discover the beauty in apparently simple, but really complicated pieces of art and let your soul soar!

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IMG_7375 Tolentino Collections

4. Yuchengco Museum

    • RCBC Plaza Gil Puyat Ave. corner Ayala Avenue, Makati City
    • 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Mondays to Saturdays)
    • Fee: P100 (Adults), P50 (Students), P25 (Children and Senior Citizens)
    • Picture-taking allowed; small bags allowed, big bags need to be left with the guard
    • Suggested duration of visit: 1 hour

The Yuchengco Museum houses the art pieces that the Ambassador Alfonso T. Yuchengco owns. He is obviously an art collector. He has an extensive collection of Rizal memorabilia: samples of his work, handwriting, and pieces of furniture form Rizal’s home. The art is organized per artist, so this helps the visitors to develop a concept of the artistic style of a particular artist based on sample works. He has a wide collection of paintings by Fernando Amorsolo, Juan Luna and Botong Francisco. Admire the floating zen garden that you wished you had at home.

The best way to divide and conquer this small museum is to start from the highest floor down to the ground floor – tip given by the museum guard.

Here, enjoy some museum gifts and art books at their little bookstore, and have your picture taken in front of Eduardo Castrillo’s “Spirit of EDSA” monument. Yes, the same one who did the People Power monument along EDSA. While you’re there, pass by their food court to have coffee or even a full meal. Amazing food court!

5. The Ayala Museum

    • Makati Avenue corner Dela Rosa St. Makati City (Between Greenbelt 4 and 5)
    • 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Tuesdays to Sundays)
    • Fee: P225 (Resident Adult full admission), P125 (Resident Student, full admission), Free for Teachers with school ID or PRC ID – See website for rates for basic admission and foreigners
    • Picture-taking allowed only on the Ground floor and 2nd floors; small bags okay, big bags to be left with the guard
    • Suggestion duration of visit: 3 hours

Our last stop was the Ayala Museum. The services available and curation are at par with international standards I should say. Audio guides are available for borrowing on an iPod for only P75, tourist maps are available here for free. The visit comes with a complimentary guide of the museum.

Like in the Yuchengco Museum, you would like to start from the top floor going down. For every collection, a viewing room explaining the collection is available for you to watch at your convenience if you are not in a hurry. The collection of gold and wares on the fourth floor is less overwhelming than that of The Met.

Going down to the third floor, appreciate Fernando Zobel’s abstract arts. Learn a little Spanish to understand the titles so you can practice matching titles with the seemingly meaningless blotches of paint and sketched grid lines on a typical Zobel work of art. On the same floor, you will find the Museum gift shop. Find time to see some souvenirs you might want to bring home.

The favorite of all visitors is probably the 2nd floor where the dioramas are. I grew up in highschool making dioramas for projects – it’s like that is the only project we could think of doing then. The ones found here exemplify how our dioramas should have been made! It is numbered in order of events with “1” being the coming of the Aetas into the Philippines. The diorama exhibition ends with the EDSA revolution.

Appreciate the detail placed into making the dioramas. They are well done, and do help visualize Philippine history for the learning mind. This is also the floor where you can take pictures. Don’t miss out on the the model Spanish ships that landed our shores. It’s amazing work.

On the Ground Floor, take time to see the changing exhibit. On the day we were there, there was an exhibit of Mexican paintings. You can download the museum map here to help you plan ahead of your visit.

Diorama samples

That ends our ultimate 5-museum field trip. The suggested duration isn’t what we followed that day. We spent lesser time in the museums than I would have suggested and wanted to. But if you ask me the essential museums, these are (and in this order roof priority):

  1. The National Museum
  2. The Metropolitan Museum of Manila
  3. Ayala Museum

Art is for everyone. You just need a great tour guide to help you appreciate it. I have always believed that people from all classes can appreciate art. Anyone with a soul is capable to doing so.

Cheers!

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FreshGrade: A Cursory Glance

Just explored a newly-discovered Class Management website called FreshGrade. It’s still in its beta stages, but I see a lot of potential for this. The main features are:

1. Portfolio building of each student in class
2. Consolidated Gradebook
3. Class posting of activities/assessments
4. Students individually submit output, and only teacher can see it
5. Ability of students to comment privately on class assessments
6. Teacher can give feedback to students regarding their submissions, by directly commenting on the submission
7. Students do not need to create an account. Teacher creates the account for each student, and gives them a Class Code and a unique Student Code

FreshGrade Dashboard

Then again, no opportunity for collaboration among students. Communication is only between 1 student and the teacher.

It’s like a cross between iTunes U (posting of activities are organised) and Edmodo (ability to send files to the teacher). Let’s see if they will add this feature to make a student’s comment visible to all members of the class, but submissions are done individually. 

Also, maybe other than placing objectives, there is also a tab for course outline. 

I love the interface of FreshGrade. It’s engaging. I hope that this can be the iTunes U that we wanted. 🙂

Edmodo vs iTunes

At the first stages of iTunes U 2.0, so much has changed with pushing content to the students through the iTunes U Course Manager. It has gained great features that forced me to assess whether Edmodo could already be ditched totally with the advanced features that Apple added into iTunes U.

In short, still not enough to ditch Edmodo.

To summarize my “findings”, here is an info graphic I made to compare the features of the two learning management systems.

Edmodo vs iTunes U

 

Loyal Teachers, the pearl of great price

Schools are also embattled with disgruntled employees. Teachers, in pairs or in droves, would prematurely leave their current employer for several reasons. It could be an unexpected hiring in a foreign school with a different school year, or because of their lack of trust in their superior. Whatever it may be, hardly will there be a reason that can justify a teacher’s leaving without having to call the act selfish.

The teaching profession is a different specie. It’s not that easy to just leave the teaching job in the middle of the school year.

Consequences of leaving mid-year

Some, perhaps, are not aware of the dire consequences of making this decision to leave mid-year. Allow me to enumerate:

  • First and foremost, the students suffer. Students are affected when a teacher leaves them suddenly. They are very perceptive. Grade 3 students are also perceptive.
  • The grades of your students will be greatly affected if two teachers will compute their grades. Maybe it’s not too much of the computation of grades since there is a formula, but the type of tests that the new teacher will make will be different. It may be easier, or more difficult than the last one. Students will again have to adjust.
  • Your co-teachers will take your 21-unit load. Not everyone can teach the subject you gave up, so maybe only 1 or 2 teachers will share your 21 units. If these teachers already have 21 units, then they will have additional 11 units. Teachers will become more stressed despite the overload pay, and will eventually resign.
  • If you are a class adviser, you have already betrayed your students. Classes have become more “possessive” these days of their adviser. They feel that their adviser is the one who understands them the most and would be their strong defender. Then, their adviser leaves them behind.
  • Overall, students’ learning is compromised.

There are other consequences that probably don’t matter to the resigned, but they are worth mentioning as well:

  • Administrators will have a difficult time looking for a replacement teacher in the middle of the school year when most teachers are already employed.
  • It’s a lost investment. The school has trained you during in-service trainings, sent you to attend seminars, mentored you (if any), and took care of you.

If someone resigns despite knowing these consequences, there are will only be two reasons:

  1. The teacher has really urgent concerns that are a matter of life and death, or an issue that affects her immediate family members.
  2. The teacher is just simply, well, to put it bluntly, selfish. He/She wants a better paying job. He/She has disagreements with his/her superior. He/She has complaints against the institution he/she has not voiced out.

“This is very good!”

Fr. Bobby SDB celebrated mass at our school and his homily tackled this mantra that up to now rings inside the classrooms being blurted out by our students: “This is very good!” He maintains that every seeming evil situation brings with it something very good as well.

What is very good, then, about cases like these that haunt your institution?

  • Opportunity for administrators to reflect and re-evaluate the organizational structure that may have contributed to higher rates of premature resignations.
  • For all we know, it is/was a good riddance.
  • (Possibility of) Hiring of a better teacher, a more loyal teacher.

Last words

I could be wrong. I could be right. These are just my observations, and I don’t mean to make this sound research-based at all.

A great teacher is a loyal teacher. He/She doesn’t have to be loyal to the institution — it is enough that his/her loyalty to her students keep her until the end of the school year. If a teacher does exactly this before he/she applies, administrators should fight to keep him/her because he/she knows what teaching is really all about: about education. Truly, these are pearls of great price. Definitely worth keeping and fighting for.

…and the irony is that the resumé that qualified the teacher in another institution is printed using the school’s colored laser printer.

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Singapore Bus Tour 2013

Since we were starting a 1:1 Program in school, we were invited by Apple Education South Asia to join a Singapore Bus Tour last week. During a “Bus Tour”, administrators and decision makers in schools who are starting to implement a 1:1 program visit schools who are already implementing it to learn from their experiences.

A 1:1 Program refers to 1 Learning Device (iPad, Tablet, iPod, Macbook, Laptop) to 1 Student.

During this particular tour from August 19-20, 2013, participants come from all over South Asia: Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines.

Here is a simple summary of our visit to different Singapore Schools:

Anglo-Christian School (Barker Rd.)

The group of 110 participants were divided into three smaller groups. Each group has its own itinerary, but there are venues where everyone gathers in one place. In my group/bus, ACS is our first stop.
In a nutshell:
1:1 Program                                         1 Macbook : 1 Student
Curriculum Framework                   Project-based, Collaborative Learning
1:1 Users                                               Sec 1 and Sec 2 (Grade 7 and 8 PH Standards)
Who buys units                                  Parents buy for their children
Bandwidth                                           100 MBPS/300 students
Classroom Setup                               LCD Projector, Speakers, Charging station
Security                                                 CCTV in all classrooms, Lockers outside classrooms
Software                                               Google Docs
Tech Support                                      In-house servicing (done only during recess or after school)
Teacher Training                                1 ICT Mentor per Level
Challenges                                           Teacher training
Highlights:
  • Infrastructure must be up and running
  • Devices are not paperweights; learning devices should engage students in learning
  • It is important that teachers believe strongly in the system (Why before the how)
  • Cyberwellness should be discussed with the students (e.g. cyberbullying, responsible use of technology)
  • Technology is an enhancer for academic learning

Apple Education South Asia Office

After ACS Barker, we passed by the Apple office for a quick snack and orientation on the role of learning devices inside the classroom. Of course, examples used were Apple products, but I would like to reiterate that this is true for all OS, but perhaps not as equally good.

Main points:
  • Allot 10%-15% of budget for professional development because learning devices are nothing without great pedagogical training
  • Learning has become more fun with the 1:1 program
  • SAMR and TPCK Models of learning with technology
  • Learning has become more student centered.
  • Student motivation to learn also increased

De La Salle Zobel Experience, Br. Dennis Magbanua FSC, Apple Distinguished Educator

During our visit at the Apple office, Br. Dennis Magbanua FSC, former president of De La Salle Zobel (DLSZ), now the President of De La Salle College of St. Benilde, also an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE), gave a brief description of the back-end experiences of implementing the 1:1 program in DLSZ.
  • Long term goals of 1:1 Program: Creative thinking, self-direct learning and mastery
  • Short term goals of 1:1 Program: Excel in academics
  • Responsible use of the mobile learning device (MLD) – should focus on the word “learning” in the term “learning device”
  • Strong home-school collaboration is needed for the program to work
  • Sooner or later, the place of the teacher will now be at the back of the classroom
  • The school uses less mobile management apps, but more home-school collaboration
  • The pilot phase of the program is “exploration” of the MLD as a learning tool
  • Challenges: Teacher training, home-school collaboration

Nanyang Girls School, Nanhua Primary School

After lunch, we proceeded to the Marina Barrage. We had a quick tour there and learned about how Singapore copes with the lack of fresh water. They are able to build technology to filtrate salt water to fresh water, and created a basin for rain water (which they emphasize as free fresh water) for distribution in Singapore. Aside from that, we had a great view of the Marina from the roof deck of the Barrage.
After the tour, we proceeded to a lecture room where all three groups gathered to listen to representatives from two other Singapore schools implementing the 1:1 program: Nanyang Girls School and Nanhua Primary School.

Nanyang Girls School, Mark Shone, ADE

Mark Shone, ADE, spoke to us about the principles behind the implementation of the 1:1 Program in Nanyang Girls school. Here are the highlights of his talk.
  • It’s not anymore Generation X, Y, or even Z, it’s now Generation IT
  • Technology is not anymore confined to just the Computer Laboratories, but is not brought into each classroom with the 1:1 program
  • iPad apps are very intuitive. There is no need to spend time to teach students how to use the app. Student learn already how to use them.
  • Students do become addicted to using the device. This is where home-school collaboration plays a big role in making the program successful.
  • Yes, students can become distracted using the learning device (because it is engaging); however, we have to remember that with or without it, distraction is a reality.
  • Some problems that we encounter is conflict with traditional exams and assessment forms.
  • Using learning devices will force the teacher to change how you teach, i.e., to teach more by talking less
Matthew, Music Teacher. Some tips and experiences.
  • Using the Garage Band app to make music.
  • Students post their work on wikis, and classmates are able to critique work
  • Rule: Critique your own work first before critiquing others’.
Mark, Physics Teacher. Some tips and experiences.
  • You can actually use Keynote for students to fill in the blanks by asking them to download your Keynote and answers can be clicked and dragged to the blanks, or they simply add words in the presentation
  • Students use clinometer to measure angle of the rocket launch, and use a motion analysis app to make a velocity time graph
  • Teachers can also record their lesson and upload it online and ask students to download re-learn the lesson
  • The problem is not the device (being distracting and addictive), but it is the users. Thus, we need to train the users to use the LD’s responsibly

Nanhua Primary School, Thomas

  • Technology is nothing without good pedagogy
  • Innovator of “A Classroom of Possibilities”
  • Technology can be used as a collaborative tool
  • With the 1:1 program, each student has a voice
  • “The fishbowl” environment/effect: When someone is looking at you, you do your best. Same when you publish your work online making your work available for others’ critiquing.

School of Science and Technology (SST)

The Vice President, Mrs. Chew Wai Lee, introduced us to the concept school they call School of Science and Technology.
  • The 1:1 program is not just about developing ICT or using the latest in ICT, but also about pedagogical training since teachers come in the school with different pedagogical styles.
  • Curriculum Framework: Applied Learning Approach. Engaging students in a 1:1 platform. “Student-fronted” curriculum. Students are self-directed, self-motivated learners guided by their teachers (who act as mentors).
  • Students receive guidance in using the learning devices.
  • Learning is dynamic. With the gadget, information is already at our fingertips. What teachers need to know now is to teach the students at the conceptual level (enduring understanding).
  • “Disciplinarity”: How each department/field sees the world is different. A maths person will see the world differently from a humanities person. How powerful our students will be if we teach them how to see the world from several point views.
  • Collaboration requires real knowledge on how to collaborate. This has to be taught.
  • Real-world context has to be used for “enduring understanding”
  • “Applied learning” is not the same as vocation training. Applied learning refers to the following facets: active, relevant, authentic, community-focused, integrated, learner-centered, and process-focused.
  • School leaders do not have to be ICT experts. The role of school leaders is to support. You have to be able to say that ICT is non-negotiable, then set up structure and processes to enable the teachers to do what they need to do.
  • Teachers are resistant to technology not because they don’t want it, but they just have not seen what it can do.
  • ICT is useless if you don’t have mastery and pedagogical knowledge.
  • Challenge-based learning.

Mr. Johari, Math teacher

  • In Math, drills are still important.
  • With the device, or students being online, each student has a voice. Students can ask questions, and give their opinion.
  • Math should be contextualized. Teacher must be able to put the formulae into real world (accessible world) situations. For example, you present to the students the idea that the ground has to be level. Then you ask, “But how do you ensure that the ground is level, and not hilly?” Just with this question, students are challenged to think logically and apply mathematical assumptions into real world situations.
  • Teachers start with pedagogy. Teachers make a decision that the lesson has to be collaborative. From the choice of pedagogy, the teacher decides what devices, software is needed to work collaboratively. In collaborative learning, peer assessment is a component.
  • Technology is just a vehicle from point A to point B. Pedagogy is the driver.
  • Since each student now has a voice, collaborative outputs is the key to grading easily.
  • With 1:1 program, teachers can now focus more on individual learners’ problems in understanding the concept.
  • Important: The device is not the students’ but the parents’. The parents have to take charge in monitoring and restricting the use of the learning device.
In a nutshell:
1:1 Program                                         1 Macbook : 1 Student
Curriculum Framework                   Challenge-based, Applied Learning Approach, Collaborative Learning
1:1 Users                                               All levels
Who buys units                                  Parents buy for their children
Bandwidth                                           Unknown
Classroom Setup                               LCD Projector, Speakers
Security                                                 Lockers outside classrooms
Software                                               Google Docs
Tech Support                                      In-house servicing for a fee
Teacher Training                                Regular subject meetings to share and plan lessons
Challenges                                           Teacher training


Edgefield Secondary School


The last school we visited is the Edgefield Secondary School. This school specializes on implementing a Challenge-based Learning approach.
Highlights of the school:
Students schedule includes a period dedicated only to Challenge-based Learning class. Almost allotting a UbD class as a separate and autonomous class.
Closely engaging with Apple Education Singapore for teacher training courses
CBL helps the students focus on universal challenges with local solutions.
CBL requires students to do something rather than just learn about something. 
Edgefield also compared Project-based Learning with Challenge-based learning:
Project-based Learning
Interdisciplinary
Collaborative
Learning focused on expected outcomes
Problem-oriented, sometimes simulated
Teacher-directed
Limited access to information with technology
Activities and solutions may be somewhat scripted
Concept-oriented
Not easily scalable
Solution shared locally
Challenge-based Learning
Interdisciplinary
Collaborative
Learning focused on Student-designed questions and solutions
Authentic, Real-world problems
Student-directed
Teacher as collaborator
24/7 access to tools, experts, and resources with technology
Created and open-ended activities and solutions
Action-oriented
Scalable to a broader context the following school year
Solution published online (global access) and put into action
In a nutshell:
1:1 Program   1 Macbook : 1 Student
Curriculum Framework     Challenge-based Learning Framework, 5 Minds of the Future
1:1 Users Year 1 and Year 2 
Who buys units   Parents buy for their children
Bandwidth 100 MBPS/300 students
Classroom Setup   LCD Projector, Speakers
Security     Lockers outside classrooms (for securing units during recess and lunch)
Software   Google Docs, Wikis, iLife Suite, iWork, Logic Mills
Tech Support Unknown
Teacher Training Regular subject meetings to share and plan lessons
Challenges   Teacher training

A Decade of Educating: Reflections

I have spent the longest time in my current academe employer than any other job I held. In these more than 10 years teaching, I was never the same teacher when I first entered my first class — no one should ever be.

I had the honor to be able to speak to future educators this afternoon. It was more of an honor for me to speak to them than the other way around. I don’t get the opportunity like this to inspire them and keep the passion and idealism in them. The talk I had with them was equally inspiring. It gave me the chance to reflect on my 10 years of teaching. To be honest, it wasn’t difficult to answer the questions they posed to me. I could easily summarize my answer to just this: Please only God.

Some people have wondered and admired my confidence and my peace. These people ask me how come I don’t have any hang-ups. It’s because I learned to only please God when I work, when I decide. I don’t try to please anyone with the way I work. I don’t teach with the goal in mind that I want my students to love me; that I want to be the most popular teacher in school. As long as you know you are doing the right thing and what ought to be done knowing that these will please God, then there is nothing to fear. There is no reason for us to complicate our lives.

Complaints? Sure I complain about many things at work, but I always go back to the fact that no institution is perfect, because it is run by people who also commit mistakes, myself included. I am not perfect. I am not the perfect teacher, nor a perfect friend. If I want a perfect boss or even a perfect colleague, only God will fit the bill. And if complaints need to be addressed, I talk to the right person who can address these concerns. Complain not with anger, but out of concern always. In this way, you also achieve peace.

Anxious about getting promoted or demoted? I have no qualms about losing my position, because I never asked for it. I see my special role in school as a privilege, not as a right. If we start seeing them as a right, then that’s when we start being anxious about losing our post. I don’t work to get promoted. I work solely because I want to please God, to show my appreciate for the One who gave me the skills and the talents. Promotion? A mere consequence. In fact, in the academic setting, it’s an extra task that your superiors think you can  handle. More than a promotion, it’s an additional burden.

Stop looking at other people at work, at your boss, and begin looking at yourself more — how you do your work, how you inspire other people through your work.

Life is simple. You can live a life without hang-ups, worries. You can achieve a lot of great things without directly wanting them, but by achieving as a mere consequence of only one thing: to please God.

Ten full years I have already spent teaching, and many other things in between, and doing only one thing consistently, it is enough to make God smile with my efforts. If God allows that I see the fruits of my labor while here on earth, I thank God for these bonuses.

To God be all the glory.

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