Thursday, September 9, 2010

Stay focused. This is what we usually advise ourselves when workload at the Institute becomes very demanding.

For a few days last month, we were distracted from our research and curriculum development activities by the commentary written by Mr. Antonio Calipjo Go titled “The blind leading the blind” which appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on June 21, 2010 criticizing mainly the biology book developed by NISMED and DepED for public schools. Some advised us to ignore the article because what Mr. Go identified as conceptual ‘errors’ do not hold water. We also anticipated that the author would not accept our arguments. However, we believe in the educational value of our responses, so we negotiated with PDI to have our full reply printed, but in vain. The newspaper would only accept a short letter to the editor (about 480 words)which we think is unfair, considering that Mr. Go’s article which occupied almost half a page was given front-page treatment. We submitted a short letter, with notation that the full reply is posted on our website. To this date, that letter has not come out.

A PDI columnist, Mr. Butch Hernandez, Executive Director of the Foundation for World Wide People Power, gave NISMED a space in his commentary dated July 31, 2010. He quoted parts of our reply, especially those that questioned Mr. Go’s analysis of the textbooks. Further, he said that the issue on textbooks could be made a part of the education reform of P-Noy’s administration. Those who read the commentary sent letters to NISMED supporting our arguments, especially those related to science concepts.

As expected, Mr. Go wrote a 12-page response which I understand was circulated to many newspaper editors and to other people in the media. For one who professes to be waging “the great moral battle of properly educating the young” his use of words such as ‘downright silly’ and ‘stupid’ is hardly constructive. One who reads his latest verbal rampage will agree with him that his article is indeed fit only to "humor" his godson. For this time, he has stripped himself of all his academic pretensions and went berserk to reveal his true persona. And to think that we at NISMED even thought at first that he deserved some space in the forum for an intelligent exchange of ideas. We were mistaken. We dare Mr. Go to write his own book to experience the processes and challenges in producing one, given limited time and minimal resources.

In the many years that we have been helping DepED develop textbooks, NISMED and the authors did not receive royalties precisely because the books for public schools were Not for Sale. Yes, we get refunds for supplies used and development money for writing the chapters and the teachers’ guides; tryout of the activities with teachers and students, payment of encoders, artists, and copy editor; and the design of relevant posters for classroom use—but these were not really commensurate to the work done. Yet, we continue to do these for the love of science education and in the service to Filipino children and teachers.

Surely, we can learn from what has transpired. We have to stay more focused on our mandate. Even if we have been recognized and awarded for leadership in science and mathematics education and our accomplishments are acknowledged in terms of the number of local and international organizations who partner with us, we still have to exert more effort to fast-track improvement in the quality of science and mathematics education in the country. This year we will concentrate on the Collaborative Lesson Research Development (CLRD) project to make science and mathematics teachers become more confident in addressing their students’ misconceptions. Within the month, we will submit to DOST-SEI, DepED, and CHED the proposed science curriculum framework for basic education and the accompanying framework for science teacher education. These are important documents for the proposed K-12 curriculum.

We will continue to produce print and nonprint instructional materials suitable for Filipino children. Due attention, among other criteria, will be on ensuring the accuracy of concepts in the text, models, charts and illustrations, using the inquiry approach to develop the concepts and critical thinking skills of learners, making the language and activities suitable to the cognitive level of students, and applying varied forms of assessment to assess learning. We also have one international conference in science and mathematics education on “Assessing Learning: Innovations and Practices” and a national seminar-workshop on “Optics and Photonics” coming up in October and November, respectively. All these we will do with the limited budget from the University and the generosity of our partners.

Our partners continue to grow and we believe that this is because we help build capacity, not destroy or downgrade people and institutions. We also believe that it is everyone’s duty to encourage and inspire one another. Many a time, a word of praise, thanks, appreciation, or cheer has kept a man on his feet. NISMED is willing to work with more partners who speak such words and who believe in our advocacy.

Twenty-five science teachers and eleven mathematics teachers from Rizal High School, Sta. Lucia High School, and North Fairview High School attended a three-day orientation-workshop on Collaborative Lesson Research and Development (CLRD) from May 17 to 19, 2010. CLRD is NISMED’s adaptation of Lesson Study, a Japanese professional development model for teachers where teachers collaborate to develop “research lessons.”

Dr. Soledad A. Ulep, Deputy Director for Research and Extension, orients
the teacher-participants on the CLRD process.

The goal of the orientation-workshop was to gain insights on teachers’ content and pedagogical content knowledge as well as their teaching practices and beliefs. This included interviews on how a particular lesson is taught, how students would answer a particular question, and the discussion of their students’ answers to the diagnostic test given by NISMED.

The participants were introduced to teaching strategies called ‘teaching mathematics through problem solving’ and ‘teaching science through inquiry’. NISMED staff demonstrated the essentials of these strategies to the participants. The teachers also viewed videos of an actual lesson exemplifying the strategies.

The participants were also introduced to the CLRD process that includes the procedures and protocols in the selection of topics to be taught, lesson planning, lesson implementation, post lesson discussion, and lesson revision. The lessons will then be implemented by another teacher. Lessons developed through this collaborative process are called research lessons.

On the last day of the orientation-workshop, the participants and NISMED staff together formulated the CLRD goals and subgoals for the first year of implementation. For mathematics,the goal is for students to value mathematics by developing their thinking skills. The subgoals are: to represent real-life and mathematical situations; to give meaning to mathematical representations; and to solve problems in many ways.

For science, the goal is to develop and nurture self-directed learners who have enduring understanding of science concepts that can be applied to real-life situations. The subgoals are: to ask questions and find answers to their questions; to communicate ideas; and to participate actively in class activities and discussion.

Soon after the workshop, NISMED drafted guidelines and instruments for use in the different activities of the collaborative lesson research and development.

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.

The Elementary School Science a n d Mathematics Groups conducted a seminar-workshop for eighty (80) Science and Mathematics teachers from the districts of Carmona, Gen. Mariano Alvarez, Silang I, and Silang II in Cavite. Sponsored by Carmona mayor Atty. Roy Loyola, the program was held from April 28 to 30, 2010 at the San Lazaro Leisure and Business Park, Carmona, Cavite.

Mathematics participants compare capacity of cylinders.

In this program, the teachers were exposed to some assessment items that assess pupils’ understanding on selected science and mathematics concepts. Some responses of the pupils to these items were provided so that the teachers can anticipate pupils’ responses, be aware of the misconceptions they might possess, and gain insights on how they relate, reason, and communicate their ideas in science and mathematics. Possible activities to address pupils’ misconceptions and difficulties were provided by the NISMED facilitators.

Workshops were included in this program so that the teachers can experience collaboratively how to improve multiple choice and constructed-response items chosen from textbooks, division/district tests or classroom tests that they had made and administered to their pupils. The cognitive domains and thinking/process skills based on the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study 2007 (TIMSS 2007) as well as guidelines on how to construct multiple-choice and constructed-response items that measure higher-order thinking skills were discussed prior to the workshop proper. Each group took turns in presenting the items they developed for critiquing. The teachers experienced how to critique the items using the principles they learned in the earlier sessions. Clarifications were made as to the points/scores a given answer merits. Revisions were then made based on the comments and suggestions by the groups and NISMED facilitators. The revised items were finalized and submitted as their output for the seminar-workshop.

Bautista explains the idea behind the construction of derivative functions using Geogebra.

NISMED offered two short-term courses this summer of 2010. The High School Mathematics Group, in cooperation with the Information Science Group, conducted a seminar on Using GeoGebra in Teaching Mathematics on May 22, 29, and June 5, 2010, while the High School Chemistry Group conducted a seminar on Laboratory Techniques, Management, and Safety for chemistry teachers and laboratory technicians from May 25 to 27, 2010.

The GeoGebra course, which was attended by 11 teachers, focused on the basics of GeoGebra such as geometric drawing and construction, exploration of properties of geometric figures, use of algebraic input to construct graphs and other mathematical objects, use of sliders in investigating family of functions and geometric transformations, and construction of web-based applets. Participants were asked to conceptualize an activity, create a GeoGebra worksheet about it, and formulate guide questions for students to answer. The output activity was exported to HTML and was uploaded to a free web server.

On the other hand, the chemistry short-term course, which was attended by 18 participants, was designed to develop participants’ practical skills required for teaching high school chemistry. Correct laboratory techniques and safety management were also emphasized. In addition, the program focused on the use, operation and maintenance of basic chemistry equipment, proper laboratory management, and practical chemistry activities. During the sessions, the participants were engaged in various hands-on activities involving use of different laboratory equipment and associated safety practices, preparation of solutions, separation of mixtures, microchemistry laboratory techniques, improvisation of audiovisual materials.

The GeoGebra course was facilitated by Guillermo P. Bautista Jr. of the High School Mathematics Group and John Alex M. Reyroso of the Information Science Group. The Chemistry short-term course was facilitated by the staff of the High School Chemistry and Audiovisual Groups.

Maria Helen dH. Catalan, Ph.D.

Maria Helen S. de Hitta-Catalan of the High School Biology Group was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Biology on April 25, 2010. Her dissertation, Mapping of Quantitative Trait Loci Associated with Resistance to Rice Tungro Disease, was conducted at the Philippine Rice Research Institute. With a dissertation grant from the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development (DOSTPCASTRD) and a research fellowship from the Department of Agriculture-Biotech Program (DA-Biotech), her study was able to determine a region in chromosome 12 that may contain the putative gene/s associated with tungro resistance.
Helen with husband Paul

Reyroso wins 2nd place in fun run

John Reyroso of the Information Science Group won second place in the 4.4-kilometer Fun Run that kicked off the UP Diliman 2010 Summer Sports Festival on April 20, 2010. The Fun Run was joined by about a hundred employees from different units of UP Diliman. But there is more to John’s winning than meets the eye. Two years earlier, John Reyroso heaved his knapsack panting as he climbed the stairs of the STTC building towards his room, the Information Science laboratory in the third floor. He was wheezing and beads of sweat were slithering down his forehead. He stopped for a few seconds and gasped for air while anxiously thinking of what his doctor told him a week before: his blood sugar and cholesterol were off the charts. His doctor advised him that he needs to watch his diet and have regular exercise.

John remembers his first day of jogging as anything but remarkable. He nearly gave up. But the doctor’s advice kept reverberating in his head. He had to do it if he wanted to be healthy.

For the next few months, John jogged regularly. Week after week, he gradually increased his running speed and running frequency. After a year, he was already jogging three to four times a week, and would go around the oval three to four times during each jogging session. Now, he would feel fatigued and weak each time he does not jog.

Two years have passed and John is now one of the faces you would see regularly jogging along the academic oval. Lately, John realized that jogging has already become a passion. He joined several fun runs and running competitions. John’s objective of joining competitions and fun runs, however, is not like those of the others. It was not much about winning as it is about staying fit and finishing the race.

Gutierrez attends World Conference

Jacqueline Rose M. Gutierrez of the High School Chemistry Group presented a paper Insights on the Students’ Incorrect Responses to a TIMSS 2003 Released Item at the 3rd World Conference on Science and Technology Education in Tartu, Estonia from June 28 to July 2, 2010. The theme of the conference “Innovation in Science and Technology Education: Research, Policy, Practice” highlighted the need for a research-based innovation in science and technology education. Aware of these needs, policy makers, practitioners and educators were enjoined in working out plans for innovations in science and technology. It was also emphasized that this undertaking should be generated from a Science Framework that puts premium on creativity.

The conference was organized by the International Council of Associations for Science Education (ICASE) in cooperation with the University of Tartu in Estonia. It was intended as a bridge among researchers, policy makers, and science teachers in the field of science education. Gutierrez’s paper was coauthored by Prof. Hideo Ikeda of Hiroshima University in Japan.

NISMED holds in-house seminars

Sixty-seven administrative and academic staff attended the in-house seminar on Organizational Planning, Assertive Communication Skills, and Managing Stress on June 1, 2010 at the Audiovisual Room, NISMED. The half-day in-house seminar served as a venue for sharing experiences and knowledge gained from the seminarworkshops attended by NISMED staff. The series of seminar-workshops was organized by the Personnel Officers Association of the Philippines (POAP), Inc. for government employees.

• Narcisa P. Gandeza and Soledad P. Sagun, both from the General Services Section, echoed the understanding they gained from attending the seminar on “Strategic Planning and Human Resource Planning.” The two shared possible considerations for redefining the Institute’s vision-mission statements, strategic implementation of operations, and control. They suggested that an inventory of manpower be made to assess performance and potentials.

• Lolita M. Mondigo and Ma. Laura V. Ginoy of the Audiovisual Group and Art Section, respectively, shared insights they gained from the “Assertive Communications Skills” seminar-workshop they attended in September 2009. The topic was a review of the basics of written and oral communications following some writing tips on how to “keep it short and simple” and to assert one’s opinion with respect.

• Joel C. Tuboro of the Maintenance and Equipment Development Section shared in his talk, the many conditions in which a person may experience stress in the workplace and how to manage them. He explained that stress in the workplace may be addressed by a change in mindset.

A break from the humdrum

People need to take a break from work now and then and that’s exactly what the NISMED family did in mid-April, 2010. For the second time in a row, the annual team building activities were held at the Nacua Beach Resort in Calatagan, Batangas. On April 16, the group arrived by bus and found the resort already buzzing with early day trippers. The group was later divided into three teams which competed in a series of fun and challenging games. The goal really was to improve everyone’s ability to lead, communicate, and work with others to solve a problem.

Later in the day, some NISMED staff tried their hand at fishing and snagged a few bangus from the resort’s own fish pond. Others gathered by the shore to enjoy the seascape and were rewarded with a lovely astronomical event, the crescent Moon side by side with Venus, thus kicking off the skywatching activity. It turned out that many NISMED staff were closet stargazing enthusiasts and they took turns with the single pair of binoculars, peering at a number of celestial wonders that are often hidden by polluted city skies.

The group motored back to Manila on the following day, but not before taking a dip in a charming shallow spot off shore dubbed by the locals as Little Boracay. Returning to the resort, one of the boats passed by a mangrove area for a short episode of birdwatching, startling a flock of gray herons, purple herons, and great egrets. Later on in the bus ride home, awards were handed out to the winners amid much teasing and laughter. Thanks to the Socials Committee, and congratulations to the Pink Team!

NISMED bowling team bags 5th place

The NISMED bowling team led by Regino Lamorena bagged fifth place (Group B) in the 2010 Interunit Mixed Team Bowling tournament which opened on January 20,2010. Twenty-four teams from different units of UP Diliman and Manila joined the tournament, and the top 12 teams played the championship in two different categories. The awarding ceremony was held at the UP Alumni Bowling Alley on April 24, 2010.

The NISMED team this year included Doddie C. Bergado, Ferdinand C. Damasco, Alberto C. Falcon, Renante N. Lunas, Joel C. Tuboro, Ester A. Bautista, Wilhelmina L. dela Paz, Monalisa T. Sasing, and Cherry A. Velasco.

Prolific Cox exhibits TODA series

Two months after his exhibit in Singapore, Daniel “Dansoy ”Coquilla exhibited new works in “Labasan ng Loob” at Blanc compound Shaw from April 17 to May 7, 2010. In this two-man show, Dansoy showcased his largest work so far titled, “Taong Toda (Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association),” measuring 1.52 x3.66 m (5 x 12 ft). His other works, “Canteen Toda” and “Pasyon Toda,” depict the daily goings-on in these settings with his signature bird’s-eye view perspective. A multiawarded artist, “Cox” to NISMED colleagues, is a video editor of the Audiovisual Group and a painting major at the College ofFine Arts in UP Diliman.