Thursday, April 14, 2011

With the theme Assessing Learning: Innovations and Practices, the University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED) in cooperation with the Department of Education (DepED) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) organized an international conference from October 26 to 28, 2010.

Dubbed “The 2010 International Conference in Science and Mathematics Education,” this year’s conference was designed to address the needs of secondary school science and mathematics teachers, and aimed to give an opportunity for high school teachers, researchers, educators, and administrators to share innovative and effective assessment practices which deepen students’ understanding and sharpen their scientific and mathematical thinking skills; enable participants to draw significant implications in promoting success in learning by using assessment and its results appropriately and productively; and expose participants to research-based examples of lessons which incorporate descriptive feedback and involve students in the assessment process.

Dr. White addresses the participants and demonstrates
an activity (inset) during a plenary session.

The conference featured prominent international and local science and mathematics educators as plenary speakers, led by key-note speaker Dr. Peter Sullivan, Professor at the Faculty of Education of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The other plenary speakers were Dr. Allan White (University of Western Australia), Dr. Beverley Cooper (Waikato University, New Zealand), Queena Lee-Chua (Ateneo de Manila University), Takuya Baba (Hiroshima University, Japan), Masami Isoda (Center for Research on International Cooperation in Educational Development, Japan), and Dr. Maria Victoria Carpio-Bernido (Central Visayan Institute Foundation). Six plenary sessions, 9 workshops, and 31 paper and case presentations filled up the agenda.

The conference was attended by 551 secondary school teachers, teacher educators, and administrators from around the country, Japan, Korea, Papua New Guinea, India, Denmark, and Turkey.

A JICA expert and seven educators ifrom Papua New Guinea -participated in the seminar-workshop on Learner-centered Approaches to Teaching Science and Mathematics held at the Science Teacher Training Center, NISMED on October 29 and November 2 to 5, 2010. The five-day seminar-workshop was designed to enhance the participants’ competence in facilitating the learning of science and mathematics concepts and developing higher-order thinking and process skills by engaging them in hands-on, minds-on, and hearts-on activities—the major features of a learner-centered classroom environment.

Emmanuel Ragu, a model teacher from Papua New Guinea,
interacts with the students while doing the activity on weathering.

The approaches used in the seminar-workshop were problem solving and inquiry-based teaching. The facilitators showed the interconnections of concepts, principles, and procedures in topics within the same grade level and across different grade levels. Misconceptions were addressed along the way. The participants experienced what it felt like to be students: they performed activities, completed activity sheets and worksheets, and participated in whole-class discussions. As teachers, they observed how the trainers processed the results of the activities. These were done to enable the participants to realize that in a learner-centered classroom, students do most of the thinking.

The exposure to learner-centered approaches showed how important mastery of both subject matter and pedagogical content is to their task as video script writers and model teachers in the distance education mode of delivering science and mathematics in Papua New Guinea. The participants evaluated the activities and discussed how they may be adapted or modified to suit learners’ ability and availability of instructional materials in their own country.

The participants also attended sessions on information and communication technology and on the utilization of locally-made instructional materials. They went on cultural and educational trips around Metro Manila and visited two public high schools. The school visits gave them an opportunity to observe learner-centered science and mathematics classes and to interact with Filipino high school teachers and administrators. It also gave them a chance to witness classroom realities in the Philippines—some of which are similar to their own experiences—and how constraints can be turned into opportunities. These activities enriched their ideas in designing and developing various interactive and learner-centered activities.

On behalf of my colleagues at NISMED and as 2010 ends, I thank all the good people for inspiring us to perform the best we could and supporting our activities to help raise the quality of science and mathematics education in the Philippines.

Being busy is nothing new to NISMED. But July to December was more challenging than the first half of the year as we implemented the Collaborative Lesson Research and Development, an innovative research cum professional development program and organized the International Conference in Science and Mathematics Education with the theme Assessing Learning: Innovations and Practices. We organized a seminar workshop on Active Learning in Optics and Photonics for physics teachers. We also organized a one week seminar-workshop on Learner-centered Approaches to Teaching Science and Mathematics for Papua New Guinea educators. We finalized the science curriculum framework for basic education based on the philosophy—teach less, learn more. This is accompanied by the framework for science teacher education which contains standards of performance and rubrics. We embarked on a new research cum advocacy project on Fishery and Climate Change. We found time to do individual extension and attend staff development programs. We had an early planning of projects for 2011 so we were able to discuss with the Department of Education the projects that support the strategies to achieve the Millenium Development Goals.

We enjoyed the Office Christmas Party with some children of our staff. Many of us worked overtime to be able to participate in the UP Annual Lantern Parade. Our lantern, made of recycled printing materials, won third prize. Christmas vacation for all UP employees started on December 22. We spent more time with our families and prepared ourselves for the real meaning of Christmas Day.

Reflecting on the meaning of Christmas was the theme of my message to NISMED staff and their families. I focused on metanoia, a call to change our ways and how we look at things—a change of heart, a change of character, a change of mind. We may have experienced negative situations but our attitudes and efforts to rise from such situations ought to define our real life story. In addition, for many of us, what we want are still of this world. We need a change of heart to see what is more important than material things. Christmas is feeling and experiencing God in our lives; seeing the good that God has done for us; realizing that He is at work in each one of us.

Metanoia is about conversion. I read that real conversion is having “sincerity, singularity of heart, simplicity, and solidarity.” This means doing things right even if nobody is watching; being faithful to our commitment as Christians, faithful to our commitment as an Institute—not as individuals but as members of a Team; knowing our priorities and being persistent no matter what the odds are, not ningas cogon. When we are converted, we have inner peace. Being at peace is thinking like a pencil: “everything that we do will always make a mark but we can always correct our mistakes; what is more important is what is inside of us; in life we will undergo painful sharpening which will make us better, but we have to allow ourselves to be held and guided by the hand that holds it.” If we reflect on the meaning of change, we experience inner peace so we appreciate better who we are and why things happen. And being at peace with ourselves radiates love.

Change, conversion, love: all these mean enjoying the best of life. The best expression of love is to give time to our families, to our friends, to our partners. The best time to love is NOW.
A More Productive New Year to all !!!

After the pilot run from 2006 to 2009 and the Orientation-Workshop on Collaborative Lesson Research and Development (CLRD) held on May 17 to 19, 2010, CLRD was implemented in three schools. The schools include Sta. Lucia High School and Rizal High School in Pasig City and North Fairview High School in Quezon City. To formalize the start of the joint venture, Director Merle C. Tan and facilitators of NISMED met with the principal and science or mathematics department head of each school.

Dir. Merle C. Tan and NISMED facilitators formalize the joint venture
with Dr. Proceso Lera, principal of the North Fairview High School
and the CLRD teachers.

In Sta. Lucia High School, every year level of mathematics has one CLRD group working with one high school mathematics NISMED facilitator. Guided by the overall goal and subgoals that they have set, they collaborated in developing research lessons on the topic which the teachers decided. To date, the teachers have implemented the following lessons in their classes: Mathematics 1, Subtracting Integers; Mathematics 2, Solving Quadratic Equation Using Quadratic Formula; Mathematics 3, The Parallel Postulate; and Mathematics 4, Introducing Polynomial Functions. Observation of the lesson implementation lasted from three to five days. Meetings for planning and post lesson discussions were held in the school when the teachers no longer had classes.

Following the same research procedure used by the mathematics group but varying only in the number of NISMED facilitators, the selected secondary science teachers of Rizal High School and North Fairview High School have implemented the following lessons: Science 1, Chemical Change; Science 2, Movement of Materials In and Out of the Cell (Osmosis); Science 3, Factors Affecting Solubility and Acids and Bases; and Science 4, Binding Energy.

With the experience in implementing the research lessons in the schools, the CLRD teachers participated in the 2010 International Conference in Science and Mathematics Education (ICSME, see related article, page 1). Once again, teachers of the different CLRD groups collaborated with their NISMED facilitators in developing their conference papers and in making their presentations. A total of 13 papers were presented. For Mathematics, the presentations were: Mathematics 1, Scaffolding Mathematical Understanding and Thinking; Mathematics 2, Needs Assessment: A Tool for Designing a Problem-based Lesson on Quadratic Equation; Mathematics 3, Building on Students’ Prior Knowledge in Introducing the Parallel Postulate; and Mathematics 4, Assessing Students’ Mathematical Thinking in Learning Polynomial Function through Open-ended Problem Solving; Assessing Students’ Representing Skills; and Group Interviews: Realizations in Assessing Mathematics Learning.

For Science, the presentations were: Science 1, Assessing Learning in the Four Phases of Stage 3 of UbD-based Lessons and Students’ Ideas about Force, Motion, Work, and Energy; Science 2, Using Students’ Representations to Assess Student Understanding of Osmosis and Students’ Conceptions of Diffusion and Osmosis: Insights Drawn from an Interview; Science 3, Discourse ICSMEin the Science Classroom: Its Impact on Student Learning and Building on Students’ Language Preference to Engage Them Actively in Learning Some Factors Affecting Solubility; and Science 4, Developing a Lesson on Binding Energy and Mass Defect Using A4L Framework.

As a three-year project that ends in 2012, CLRD’s research and development activities will continue. The results of its first year of implementation are indeed promising and enriching inputs to the Institute’s functions to help upgrade science and mathematics in the country.

The final version of the proposed framework for basic education (Grades 1 to 10) was submitted to the Science Education Institute, Department of Science and Technology last September 2010. The curriculum framework is the overall structure for organizing learning and teaching of science. The goal remains to be the development of scientifically, technologically, and environmentally literate individuals who have developed inquiry skills and attitudes that will enable them to maintain good health and live safely, utilize energy and cope with change, and conserve and protect the environment.

The framework is organized around three interlocking components namely: inquiry skills, scientific attitudes, and content and connections, as shown in the diagram. Being interrelated, these components are woven together in order to support the holistic development of a scientifically literate individual. The framework sets out what all students should know, understand, value, and be able to do from Grade 1 to Grade 10. The Technical Working Group deems it best to use Grades 1 to 10 instead of Grades 1 to Year 4 to emphasize that there is no break in the continuum of the curriculum from elementary school to high school. There are three overarching themes: maintaining good health and living safely; utilizing energy and coping with changes; and conserving and protecting the environment. These themes are used in various real-life contexts across grade levels.

Taken as a whole, students in each grade level learn about the three content areas (life science, physical science, and earth and space sciences) in one school year. Such an organization emphasizes comprehension of the connections and interrelationships of various science concepts. This is in contrast to the traditional presentation of science content as separate subjects where knowledge is taught to build mastery of a collection of isolated facts, principles, and procedures.

Rather than prescriptive, the framework’s basic purpose is to provide a structure around which educators, curriculum developers, textbook writers, and teachers can develop instructional materials incorporating coherent learning activities and experiences that prepare students to become scientifically literate in a dynamic, rapidly changing, and increasingly technological society.

Meanwhile, the final version of the proposed framework for teacher education incorporates rubrics for evaluating the performance of science teachers. The levels of performance are more detailed for the following categories of characteristics of an effective science teacher, as shown in the diagram below: possesses professional knowledge, exhibits professional practice, and possesses professional attributes. The standards set forth in this framework also became the basis for revising the science content in the general education curriculum of the new teacher education curriculum. To prepare future teachers and ensure their full understanding, the components of the science curriculum framework for basic education had been integrated in the standards for effective science teachers.

As part of its continuing effort to raise the quality of physics teaching in the country, NISMED hosted and organized a five-day workshop titled Active Learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP) on November 15 to 19, 2010. A total of 34 selected physics teachers and instructors from regional science high schools, selected science-oriented high schools, laboratory schools, and teacher training institutions attended the workshop.

Mazzolini demonstrates an activity on optical data transmission.

ALOP is a UNESCO program conceptualized by an international team of experts and resource persons. It aims to provide the participants with opportunities to enrich their knowledge and skills in teaching optics and photonics through the active learning approach. The members of the team who also served as facilitators during the workshop sessions include Alex Mazzolini (Australia), Vengu Lakshminarayanan (Canada), David Sokoloff (USA), Ivan Culaba (Philippines), Joel Maquiling (Philippines), Joseph Niemela (Italy), and Minella Alarcon (Philippines). Alarcon also served as the workshop director and ALOP project coordinator.

As a bonus, all the participants were given the set of materials they used during the workshop sessions, including the training manual developed by the facilitators themselves. The manual includes hands-on activities that use materials and equipment that are simple, inexpensive, and can be locally fabricated. With these materials, participants were encouraged to try out and practice what they learned in their respective schools, as well as share them with their fellow physics teachers.

5th East Asia regional conference on mathematics education

Dr. Aida I. Yap of the Elementary School Mathematics Group presented a paper titled Developing Mathematics Teaching Practice through Collaborative Lesson Research and Development at the 5th East Asia Regional Conference on Mathematics Education held at the National Olympic Youth Memorial Center in Tokyo, Japan on August 18 to 22, 2010. The theme of the conference was In Search for Excellence in Mathematics Education.

Dr. Yap presented the results of the processes and challenges in the development of a research lesson on Addition of Whole Numbers by a group of Grade 1 mathematics teachers in a public elementary school and NISMED’s Elementary School Mathematics Group. This research is one of the outputs of the Collaborative Lesson Research and Development Project of NISMED with its partner schools from 2006 to 2009.

From left: Prof. Baba, Mr. Ooneda, Ms. Nakamoto, and Dr. Yap

In the said conference, Dr. Yap also served as a panel discussant in the parallel session Exploring Spatial Figures. She was joined by Prof. Takuya Baba of Hiroshima University, Ms. Nobuko Nakamoto and Mr. Yutaka Ooneda of the University of Tsukuba Junior High School.

Admin staff attend POAP seminars

Eleven administrative staff attended different seminars organized by the Personnel Officers Association of the Philippines, Inc (POAP).
  • Agustina C. Bautista and Rebecca C. Salayo attended Assertive Written Communication Skills on May 3 to 6, 2010 in Orchid Garden Suites, Malate, Manila. The main focus of the seminar was on asserting opinions, both in oral and written communication. Also highlighted were the basics on written communication, particularly on writing formal letters.
  • Cherry A. Velasco and Renante M. Lunas attended Managing Work Place Attitude on May 18 to 21, 2010 at Hotel Veniz, Baguio City. The training offered strategies on how to solve office disagreements as well as the right approach in dealing with work problems.
  • Rodolfo V. Sangel Jr. and Mario Gallardo joined the seminar on Developing Effective Workplace which was conducted at Hotel Fleuris, Puerto Princesa, Palawan on June 15 to 18, 2010. The topics tackled in the seminar included steps in reaching a consensus, dysfunctions of teams, and tips for building an effective team.
  • Eden F. Untalan, Ma. Lourdes G. Espiritu, and Wilhelmina L. dela Paz participated in the seminar, Walking an Extra Mile for Excellent Delivery, on August 10 to 13, 2010 in Bacolod City. The seminar underscored working with a positive attitude, displaying readiness to put in extra work even with no compensation, assisting colleagues, and noticing problems and opportunities and bringing these to the attention of the management.
  • Angelie S.D. Domingo and Cecile N. Sales attended the Fundamentals of HR Management on September 14 to 17, 2010 at the Royal Mandaya Hotel, Davao City. The seminar focused on recent developments in human resource development, Civil Service rules, and concepts and approaches on human resource management.
The POAP organizes a yearly seminar series for government employees.

World Association of Lesson Studies international conference

Dr. Erlina R. Ronda of the High School Mathematics Group and Ms. May R. Chavez of the High School Physics Group presented papers at the World Association of Lesson Studies (WALS) International Conference 2010 held at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam on December 9 to 11, 2010.

Dr. Ronda (leftmost) and Ms. Chavez (second from left)
with co-participants
from Indonesia and Hong Kong

Dr. Ronda presented a paper titled Scaffolding Pedagogical Content Knowledge through Lesson Study. Her paper described the scaffoldings provided to a group of High School Mathematics I teachers to enhance their pedagogical content knowledge for teaching subtraction of integers and the results of these interventions. From these she proposed a model for introducing and promoting lesson study to teachers.

Ms. Chavez’s paper was on Lesson Study and Inquiry-based Teaching. She described how the teachers were able to develop a lesson on ‘mass defect and binding energy’ with activities that allow students to ask questions and to construct the concepts themselves.

The theme of the 2010 conference was “From Lesson and Learning Study to the Design of Teaching.” WALS was established in November 2006 with the aims of promoting professional development among its members and developing the theory and practice of lesson and learning studies through the sharing of knowledge and resources.

We're 46 and counting...

NISMED marked its 46th anniversary on November 22, 2010. The celebration started with a thanksgiving mass officiated by Fr. Michael James I. Ty, Director of the Catholic Campus Ministry of the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice. It was followed by a service award ceremony which honors academic and administrative staff who have served the Institute for 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 years. Dr. Merle C. Tan and Deputy Director for Administration Dr. Marlene B. Ferido handed out the certificates of loyalty.

This year’s awardees were Soledad P. Sagun, 40 years; Evelyn L. Josue, 35 years; Soledad A. Ulep, Risa L. Reyes, Alejandra B. Patente, Ruben A. Borja, Santiago G. Silleza, Efren C. Galilea, Joel C. Tuboro, and Wilhelmina L. Dela Paz, 30 years; Ma. Dulcelina O. Sebastian, Nolito L. Llaguno, Cecile N. Sales, and Rosita R. Cruz, 25 years; Alice P. Gabuat, Reynaldo A. Caingat, and Carlo M. Montillana, 20 years; Erlina R. Ronda, Kathy A. Josue, and Alvin J. Encarnacion, 15 years.

The awardees were serenaded by Rolando M. Tan as members of the Socials Committee handed out orchid plants as tokens of appreciation. A dance number from some of the junior staff livened up the awarding ceremonies.

NISMED celebrates Christmas

The most awaited party of the year, the NISMED Christmas Party, was held in the afternoon of December 15, 2010. The celebration started with a prayer led by Rose Cruz and a Christmas message from Dr. Merle C. Tan, NISMED Director. Games and gifts followed. The staff, divided into four groups, competed heartily to outwin each other in the games prepared by the Socials Committee. So did the kids who enjoyed their own share of games and prizes. In between games, prizes were raffled off to the staff. Nobody went home empty-handed as giveaways were distributed to everyone. As in past years, the affair was graced by former NISMED staff. A heavy merienda capped the Christmas celebration.