The Finish Line

Relief.

This is what I feel every time I finish working on my course tasks this term. Finally, just a few hours ago, I was able to submit the final requirement for the last course I need to get my Professional Teaching Certificate.

It has been a tough term, what with adjusting to a modular curriculum for the subject I teach, which meant going to and from different buildings to get to my classes. If that weren’t enough, I was diagnosed with herniated spinal discs starting from my mid-back down to my sacrum. I was in pain most of the time and had limited movement. It kept me from doing things I liked like working out so it affected my performance as well as my moods.

I was unhappy, or at least, unsatisfied with how I went about the course this term. My mantra in life was to always be passionate about everything I do, even the smallest things. The last nine months or so challenged this very philosophy as I found myself entering depression because of my health.

I had seriously considered leaving school by August because of my spine. I did not want to short-change my students so I forged on. I decided to use my health problem as a challenge so that I can inspire my students; especially those are going through difficulties in their studies.

Teachers, whether we like it or not, become instant role models to students. That is why it important to be mindful of our actions and to make every situation a learning experience for students, be it inside or outside the classroom.

Effective teaching does require a good grasp of your subject matter so that you can teach it well. But aside from the cognitive aspect, teachers must also nurture the affective aspect by using real-life examples and experiences in order to teach values to their students.

I have now reached my finish line. There will be other races to run next time. For now, my greatest take away from this course is that it reminded me on how I should always be mindful of my words and actions – to practice reflection so that I can be an effective teacher and role model to the children entrusted under my tutelage.

Quality over Quantity

I have a brother who is 15 years my junior, and I often helped him with schoolwork when he was growing up. I was his language and science tutor at home while my sister, the middle child, helped him with math. I often helped him do book reviews when he reached high school, discussing and critiquing the book in question to help him draw his own conclusions for the review. As the youngest, I have listened to him rant about teachers who only go to the classroom to do their work but not teach. He said that some teachers just spout off concepts in class, determined to cover as much topic as they could, without even bothering if the students are catching up.

Working as a nurse back then, I understood what he meant: some nurses, through years of experience, automatically know what to do when a particular situation arises. The danger, as I have seen, is the loss of empathy to patients. The work becomes so routine that a patient’s complaint of pain is sometimes reduced to mere excuse for attention.

I think my background in nursing has helped me develop a reflective attitude on my work. I remember vowing to myself that I would never lose my empathy for my patients, for as long as I work as a nurse. When I decided to teach, I carried with me the same attitude. I remember telling myself that my students are just like my patients. They all have their stories. They all have their realities and these, for the most part, like pain, are subjective. Simply put, I brought with me a nurturing attitude when I came to teach my students. With my brother as inspiration, I promised myself to teach and not just parrot off concepts in the classroom. I would approach each topic as though I was teaching it to my brother. I would normally give analogies regarding situations that my students are familiar with in order to help them better understand lessons.

This has created a reflective attitude in me. I try to be as mindful as I can in my classroom encounters and I discuss with other teachers to find out new and better ways of motivating, say, a difficult class. I have noticed how my discussions become better as the day progresses because, as explained by Kolb (1984), I am able to see what does and does not work when teaching a particular concept or skill. In the few years that I have been teaching, I have come to see that knowing the interests of students help and so I am able to adjust the delivery of a lesson depending on the profile of a class.

Of course, some strategies do fail across classes in that there have been instances when students become more confused. I take these situations as a challenge and take the time to explain and look for ways to help them learn. I have always abided with the idea of quality over quantity: I would rather spend more time teaching them about computing for solution concentrations, making sure they demonstrate basic skills, than cover molarity and molality.

I think the main point of reflective thinking is ensuring that each classroom encounter is maximized in order for optimized learning to occur. Apart from open-mindedness, responsibility, and mindfulness (Grant and Zeichner, n.d.), I think that reflecting on how strategies and styles and being able to tailor-fit them with the needs of all students in the class requires mindfulness and genuine commitment to the education of learners.

References:

Grant, C. & Zeichner, K. (n.d.). On Becoming a Reflective Teacher. Available from http://www.wou.edu/~girodm/foundations/Grant_and_Zeichner.pdf

Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential Learning: experience as the source of learning and development. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall (0 13 295261 0).

Ano Raw? (Say What?) Bilingualism in the Classroom

For my online class this past two weeks, we studied about teaching skills. These included instructional planning skills, classroom management skills, interpersonal skills, and working with diverse learners.  As I read through the resources, I felt most drawn to the topic on working with diverse learners.  For one, my brother became part of a culturally diverse classroom when he migrated with my parents to the US ten years ago.  The struggles described in The Act of Teaching (Cruickshank, Metcalf, & Jenkins, 2009) were very real for they echoed my brother’s experiences as he told us.

One more thing that drew me to the resource was a chapter section on bilingualism and how it affects the cognitive processes of students.

A few years ago, I had worked for about two months as a substitute teacher for Filipino. It was in an all-girls school – the same school where I teach now.  Back then, I had already noticed how many of the students in my Filipino class had difficulty conjugating verbs.  We studied about Filipino short stories for which “Ang Kalupi” stood out: my students did not even understand the synonym “pitaka” until I had to translate the title in English (“wallet” or “small purse”).   Sending messages via text was still quite a new phenomenon then but I had already begun to notice that students also had spelling difficulties in English, often truncating words or spelling words in text speech.

Fast forward to the present and I notice that aside from increasing spelling errors and a limited Filipino vocabulary, it seems that my students are becoming strangers to their own language – mga banyaga sa sariling wika. They are more comfortable conversing in English with their friends,some even with impeccable accent.  On the other hand, they talk less in class during Linggo ng Wika when they are expected to talk in Filipino.  They hardly understand me when I start conversing with them in Tagalog, some with open surprise that I could actually speak in straight Tagalog.  They would get confused at the use of even the simplest Filipino words like labis (excess), pataan (allowance), or makipot (narrow).

This week, I found out what term to call this phenomenon: language loss.  According to Cruickshank, Metcalf, and Jenkins (2009), it is a kind of unbalanced bilingualism where children become better at writing and speaking a second language (in this case, English) and eventually become unable to use their first language – aptly called the heritage language (in this case, Filipino).

Cruikshank et al also said that language loss can limit students’ ability to learn English as well or as quickly as they otherwise can do. What is interesting to note here is that the phenomenon on language loss was observed in students from immigrant families living in the United States.  I actually felt sorry for my students who are demonstrating language loss while living here in their own country!  What is worse is that when I listen to them talk more comfortably in a language not their own, I somehow get the feeling that some of them do not even have the slightest idea what their words mean.  Many of them seem to parrot lines heard in a movie or song, or use expressions they learn from TV shows or movies.  Most of them compose English essays peppered with dead words.

As a Filipino, I am concerned with the deteriorating status of the Filipino language in today’s generation.  Part of our identity as a people is our language. As a teacher, I am concerned at how limited their vocabulary is. The more limited their vocabulary becomes, the harder it is for them to understand simple instructions – be it in Filipino OR English!

It is for this reason that I commend the Department of Education’s (DepEd) decision to use a Mother Tongue-based framework in teaching basic education which is also in line with the department’s aim of developing a “culture-sensitive” curriculum (Sec 5, RA 10533).

The idea of using mother tongue as medium of instruction is for basic education to be delivered to learners through their first language, that is, a language they understand. There are 12 mother languages (Official Gazette, n.d.) that have been identified based on the number of speakers of the approximately 150 dialects spoken in the country (Headland, 2014).  I am only hoping that as we proceed to implement these new standards of the K-12 curriculum, we will be able to truly enrich and equip our students.  As Hansen, Umeda, & Kinney (as mentioned in Cruickshank et al, 2009) found out, “having a large vocabulary in a first language has been shown to save time in learning vocabulary in a second language.”

It is time we help our students brush up on their mother tongue. It is time to go back to our roots.

 

References:

Cruickshank, D. R., Metcalf, K. K., & Jenkins, D. B. (2009). Teaching diverse students (Chapter 3, pp 64 – 79). In The act of teaching. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Available from http://www.oercommons.org/courses/educational-psychology/view

Dead Words (n.d.). Available form http://ptfaculty.gordonstate.edu/msilverman/Dead%20Words%20Reference%20Sheet.pdf

Headland, T (2014). Thirty Endangered Languages in the Philippines.  Dallas, Texas:  Summer Institute of Linguistics.  Available from http://www.researchgate.net/publication/248078736_Thirty_endangered_languages_in_the_Philippines

Official Gazette (2013). Republic Act No. 10533, http://www.gov.ph/2013/05/15/republic-act-no-10533/

Official Gazette. The K to 12 Basic Education Program, http://www.gov.ph/k-12/

Amalgamation

This week in my Instructional Media Resources class, we learned about multimedia resources.  These resources are an amalgamation of print, audio, and visual resources and hence, provide for a more enriching and interactive learning experience (Lamb, n.d.).

Compared to the other two resources we studied (see Albion and Huang below), the Building Treehouses resource by Lamb (n.d.) was what I found most interesting and most helpful.  For one, it gave a list of the different slides that should make up a slideshow as well as the functional areas that slides have.

Aside from these, it also mentioned different software that can be used to create multimedia resources. One of these was Macromedia Flash Player, which comes as no surprise since most websites incorporate clips in them. It also listed Microsoft PowerPoint which I use to create my visual aids in school.

For a moment, it got me confused because Lamb had also mentioned PowerPoint as a good tool when creating projected visuals (Lamb, 2005).  Then of course, I came to realize that the fact that it is called “multimedia” would mean that it has to be projected somehow in order for it be as interactive as the designer would want it to be.

I have used clips, audio files, and hyperlinks in my PowerPoint presentations before.  Hyperlinks make for nonlinear presentations (that is, they allow users to jump from one topic to another).  However, the way I add hyperlinks in my slides still follow a linear outline (that is, it is part of a sequence).

I guess despite the limitation in interactive-ability, I realized that some of my slides are simple multimedia.  After reading Building Treehouses, I had this idea of creating a website for my students that will connect the slides that I have used in my lectures.  Of course, some of them will have to be revised and improved and some others still need to be designed (especially the interactive slides and student involvement area).

My greatest challenge about putting forth the project together will be to find the time to actually organize them into a cohesive stack (I can go crazy with sorting until I have several subfolders that I again will have to sort!) and the actual construction of a website.  Not to mention that the school has a policy of discouraging teachers from giving assignments through the internet.  Still, it will be a good science fair project that I can ask the students to be involved in.  I think, given their tech-savvy, it will also help them learn more about my subject along the way.

 

References:

Albion, P. (2001). Developing interactive multimedia using a problem-based learning framework. In L. Richardson and J. Lidstone (Eds), Flexible Learning for a Flexible Society, 30-38. Proceedings of ASET-HERDSA 2000 Conference, Toowoomba, Qld. Available at http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.25.7527&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Huang, C. (2005). Designing high-quality interactive multimedia learning modules. In Computerized Medical Imaging and Graphics, 29, 223-233. Available at https://cset.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/files/documents/publications/Huang-Designing%20hih-quality%20interactive%20multimedia%20learning%20modules.pdf

Lamb, A. (2005). Designing and developing resources: Projected materials (Chap 9). In Building treehouses for learning: Technology in today’s classrooms. Available at http://eduscapes.com/treehouses/TL9projected.pdf

Lamb, A. (n.d). Designing and developing resources: multimedia materials (Chap 11). In Building treehouses for learning: Technology in today’s classrooms, 385-438. Available at http://eduscapes.com/treehouses/TN11multimedia.pdf

Discriminating Websites

This week for my Instructional Media Resources class, we focused on internet resources and how they can be effectively used in teaching and learning.  I found the Building Treehouses resource (Lamb, n.d.) interesting and useful as it mentioned web sites that I can use in my classes.  Though I usually frequent the Enchanted Learning website, as well as resources for quizzes listed in the document, there were listed resources that I was unfamiliar with, or have heard of but have never really visited before.  I had checked out the Edheads.org interactive website and found the weather activity challenging.  Now if I could just throw it into my Earth Science classes. 🙂

I have to admit, despite the sheer volume of information that I could lay my hands on using the internet (for my lesson plans and activities), there are times when I sometimes feel dissatisfied with the results displayed on the page.  Other times, I feel lost and overwhelmed with the amount of information available that I don’t even know where to begin.  The latter I feel despite my background in research.  Sorting through all that information takes time.

It was a good thing that Glencoe (2006) had listed five basic criteria to evaluate the appropriateness and credibility of websites.  It also helped me make sense of “web speech” and what those tildes (~) and percent signs (%) on URLs mean (that is, they are usually found in web sites authored by individuals).

Apart from being useful to me as a teacher, I think that these resources will also be invaluable to my students especially since they have investigatory projects that they need to review literature for.  The world wide web is like one big library. But as with any old library, we need the skills in discriminating which reference is good and which is not; which source is relevant and which is not.  We need to teach ourselves how to properly use it. Only then can we teach the “net generation” how to responsibly and critically utilize it, just like how we teach them to use printed, audio, and video resources.

Helping our students to evaluate web resources also helps them develop critical thinking skills.  And isn’t that what we all want our students to develop?

References:

Glencoe. (2006). Evaluating web sites – five basic criteria. Available at http://www.glencoe.com/sec/teachingtoday/educationupclose.phtml/10

Lamb, A. (n.d). Selecting & integrating resources: Teaching and learning with internet (Chap 4). In Building treehouses for learning: Technology in today’s classrooms, 119-158. Available at http://eduscapes.com/treehouses/TG4Internet2.pdf

Sound Bytes: Not Just for Teaching English and Music

This week, it took me a while to read the module on audio resources.  We have just finished working on a major homework (submitted on June 12th) and I found myself busy preparing decorations for my classroom, in time for the opening of classes on the 18th.  Coming in from the summer holidays, the full days spent at school left me tired when I got home.  I was chiding myself for my excuses but for my part, I was trying to squeeze in reading the required resources while I was in school, setting up my classroom and finishing my lesson plans.

Anyway, the module for this week was about audio files.  I have forgotten how audio can be effectively utilized in the classroom.  As a kid, we had Oral Language books where sentences had rising and falling lines.  I remember getting excited whenever my Language teacher would enter the classroom with a cassette player in tow.  That was a signal that for the next period, we would be moving our heads up and down to follow the intonations indicated in our workbooks while we repeated after the person in the audio cassette speaking.

As I grew up, audio use in the classroom was mostly limited to English and Music.  In college, when I enrolled in a class on Radio Broadcasting, our professor used audio files to demonstrate sibilance.  As a teacher, some colleagues (who all taught English) made use of audio files in the classroom.

I guess I was just so used to using video clips in the classroom when teaching Science that I have come to overlook the usefulness of pure audio in lectures, thinking that they are more of an “English thing” than others (remember how I admired Tony Stark’s holograms?).  Reading about digital media (JISC Digital Media, 2013) and audio cassette tapes (Smaldino, Russell, Heinich, and Molenda, 2004), as well as how audio resources can be used in the classroom (Centre for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA), 2015) has made me rethink the media.

It may be a challenge to use audio in my Science lectures but I have thought of a few ways to incorporate them in my classroom activities this year when we try to simulate earthquakes in the classroom. I hope that by using the sound of rumbling earth will help my students perform in the drills better.  Much like the thundering music in a film’s action sequence, I hope that using audio in my classes will also motivate them better and make the class encounters more interesting this year!

References:

Centre for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA). (2015). Using audio (Parts A, B, & C). Available at http://www.carla.umn.edu/LCTL/development/mod3a.html)

JISC Digital Media. (2013). Using audio in teaching and learning. Available at http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk/guide/using-audio-in-teaching-and-learning/

Smaldino, S. E., Russell, J.D., Heinich, R., and Molenda, M. (2004). Audio (Chap 11). In Instructional technology and media for learning (8th ed), 264-280. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. Available at https://navelmangelep.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/instructional-technology-and-media-for-learning-8th-ed.pdf

All About Print

This week, we learned about printed materials in my online class.  Two of the resources we had for the class talked about designing and printing your very own materials using a computer desktop or laptop, and a good quality printer (Matiru,  1995 and Lamb, n.d.).  Imagine the possibilities: I could write and publish a book all by myself!

We have come a long way from when the first metal press was invented by Gutenberg in Renaissance Europe the 1400s.  The technology did not only “change the world of printing” (Bellis, n.d.) by making the mass-production of books possible, it also paved the way for the development of the arts and sciences (Bellis, n.d.) by making information more accessible.

Of course, the technology has undergone several major changes since but from then on, books have become synonymous to education.  Aside from books, there are other print media that are used in the classroom that also serve to inform and instruct students.

Despite the advent of the internet and the availability to e-books and other digital media, I think that print media are here to stay.  Personally, I prefer old-fashioned-ink-and-paper books to e-Books. I guess I just like to feel the paper when I am reading.  I find the scent of a newly-bought book relaxing and exciting at the same time.  The rustling sound of a page being turned is so much more delightful than the soft tapping of keypads when you scroll down a page in an e-Book.  Besides, the light from the computer monitor hurts my eyes.

By the way, calling something as non-print media (like audiovisuals, e-Books and e-Journals) is actually a misnomer since it contains printed materials (Abolade, 1998).  This is especially true since pictures are actually printed anyway.

Anyway, whether we call technologies we use in the classroom as print or non-print, I think the most important thing to consider when selecting, designing, and using them is to really know your target audience.  From there, it will be easier to design and determine content for any material.  Going back to what I said earlier, I could very well print an entire book via desktop publishing for my students.  But if I don’t know the general profile of my students, it will all be for nothing.

References:

Abolade, A. O. (1998). General techniques for evaluation of learning and instructional materials. Retrieved from http://www.unilorin.edu.ng/journals/education/ije/sept1998/GENERAL%20TECHNIQUES%20FOR%20EVALUATION%20OF%20LEARNING%20AND%20INSTRUCTIONAL%20MATER

Bellis, M. (n.d.). Johannes Gutenberg and the Printing Press. Retrieved from about.com: http://inventors.about.com/od/gstartinventors/a/Gutenberg.htm

Lamb, A. (n.d.). Designing & developing resources: Print materials (Chap 7). Building treehouses for learning: Technology in today’s classrooms, 243-272. Retrieved from http://eduscapes.com/treehouses/TJ7print.pdf

Matiru, B. (1995). Printed Media. Frankfurt am Main: IKO. Retrieved from http://collections.infocollections.org/ukedu/en/d/Jgtz016e/8.3.2.html#Jgtz016e.8.3.2