Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Elementary School Science and Mathematics Groups of NISMED conducted a training program titled Training of Science and Mathematics Teachers in the Special Science Elementary Schools for the Division of Quezon City from April 20 to22, 2010 at the Science Teacher Training Center (STTC), NISMED. The training program was aimed at enhancing the teacher-participants’ understanding of important science and mathematics concepts and ability to develop tasks or items that require higher-order thinking skills (HOTS) and can be used to assess learning.

Teachers constructing a circuit connection using an electricity kit

During the opening program, Dr. Merle C. Tan, NISMED director, gave a plenary lecture on Understanding by Design and the key features that will help improve teaching practices and the way instructional materials are developed. The participants were then divided into two subject areas, science and mathematics. Both groups had a session on assessment where they were introduced to the cognitive domains of the 2007 TIMSS Assessment Frameworks and some guidelines in formulating multiple-choice and constructed-response questions. For the content sessions, each group was subdivided into three clusters.

Mathematics Training

Forty-two teachers participated in the mathematics training. Each session on content areas was driven by the principle of teaching through problem solving and engaged the participants in collaborative activities. Misconceptions were addressed and connections between concepts, principles and procedures in topics within the same grade level and across different grade levels were highlighted.

As a final activity of the training program, the participants worked in pairs to improve multiple-choice or constructed response items selected from their school files. Each pair of participants presented their output for critiquing. The items were then revised based on the suggestions of the other participants and NISMED facilitators.

Science Training

Fifty-five teachers participated in the science training. Each of the three-hour sessions followed the same design—science concepts are best taught and understood through the processes of science inquiry: observing, communicating, classifying, measuring, inferring, predicting, defining operationally, making models, and investigating.

On the first training day, the teachers were paired so they could write improved versions of two assessment items—multiple-choice or constructed-response questions—from one of their periodical tests. The guidelines for improving the test items were: content should be within the required competencies of the Department of Education for Science and Health; cognitive level should be raised from the factual level to the conceptual level or the reasoning and analysis level; and form should follow the TIMSS guidelines for constructing test items. All these were submitted as outputs during the third day of the training program.

In all, 15 science concepts—5 for each cluster—were taught through the processes of science inquiry. Science misconceptions were also explained and corrected as they cropped up during class discussions. Toward the end of each session, one or two assessment items were presented for critiquing and improvement. All these activities were done to help teachers write improved versions of their usual assessment items.