"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Monday, December 31, 2012

A Letter to a Teacher

The year 2012 is now at its end. At this time, I would like to share an excerpt of a letter that I read recently. The letter was written by William Begg and posted in the "Bantayog ng mga Bayani" site. And as the year ends, here are some photos from Tudla Productions, reminding us that there are children who have lost their homes and schools because of typhoon Pablo.















2013 is another opportunity to right what is wrong....


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Right Time and a Right Place

"There is a right time and a right place" is perhaps better known as a collection of words that talks about luck or serendipity. But in a curriculum for basic education, it speaks of appropriateness. An earlier post in this blog, "A Question of Heroes: A Question of Education Reforms", talked about resolutions for the coming new year which included avoiding some phrases when describing education reform. One of those phrases was "high standards". No education reform out there would claim anything other than "higher standards". It is within this context that the phrase "Right Time and a Right Place" maybe helpful.

A good curriculum in basic education wisely chooses the skills and content to be taught that are appropriate for the background and age of school children. I recently came across an article, "A Day at an Elementary School with a Cognitive Psychologist" by Cedar Riener, assistant professor of Psychology at Randolph-Macon College. I really enjoyed reading this article and having a son who is currently in first grade made his observations quite easy to relate to.

My son browsing through images of cheetah on the internet
My son recently worked on a first grade science project in which he prepared a poster describing cheetahs. He knew that he would be able to find images of cheetahs from the internet that would help him construct his poster. This was something he learned when he was in kindergarten. He had homework then at the end of each week. One of the letters was assigned and he was supposed to find five pictures that corresponded to words that began with the assigned letter. He always picked animals so every week, he had to think of five animals whose names began with the week's letter.

Finding images on a search engine is quite straightforward if one knows how to spell and type. What I would do at those times was to ask him what animals he was looking for (so he had to think of which animals had a name that started with the given letter). Then, I would type the name of the animal on the search engine. He could already recognize letters, but I did not want him to spend time on knowing how to spell the words correctly and finding the letters on the keyboard. Helping a child become familiar with the keyboard can use other exercises on the web that are far more interesting and engaging (My son liked "ABC's Zoo Learning Game", for example).  He would print out the images that he found, cut them out, and paste them on a sheet of paper. He would write the name of the animal under each picture. Making the poster on cheetahs was really a culmination of these weekly exercises. One thing was clear, my son was aware of what he might be able to find out there on the web.

Riener started with optimism in his article, citing that elementary education in the United States has really gone a long way. There is a lot to be glad about how our children are being educated in schools these days. Riener stressed the importance of visiting elementary school classrooms and observing how children are taught to appreciate correctly what is going on in basic education. There are indeed good things, but, of course, there are still instances that leave room for improvement. The following are excerpts:
In one kindergarten classroom, I assisted at a station where the activity consisted of practicing logging in to the computer over and over again. They had to remember an order of operations, and what to do on each step. They had to begin by pressing ctrl-alt-del at the same time, then type in their login number and password (which were both written on a popsicle stick). In between fields, they had to remember to hit the tab key (and remember where the tab key was as well as the enter key). Then, once they logged in, an adult (me or another assistant) would log them out and the students would start all over again. Several kids I was helping were getting frustrated with this–because they could not remember the steps, had a hard time pressing all the keys at once, or had some difficulty finding and recognizing all the letters and numbers in their login sequence and password. 
Logging in to a computer is not something you need to, or can, practice. Knowing where the keys are? Yes, that’s important. But there are so many better ways to practice that. Hitting ctl-alt-del is a dead simple thing to learn when you are eight years old, but tortuous when you are five years old, so why bother practicing it when you are five? This struck me as a classic example of practicing something that can’t and shouldn’t be practiced. It also struck me as something which is likely driven (albeit indirectly) by test-based accountability. This is a subject for another post, but even though most kindergardeners aren’t included in standardized testing (yet), there is still pressure to familiarize them with testing routines. Eventually they will be using the computer by themselves to take these tests, so the schools and teachers are eager to get an early start on computer skills and familiarity with the computer. This could be applied to testing situations, but would also seem to apply to life in the 21st century. Everyone needs to know how to log in, right? But again, why practice something which later comes effortlessly?
Riener also had a couple of cute photos that came along with the article. It is definitely a good read, click this link to read more: "A Day at an Elementary School with a Cognitive Psychologist".



Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Wrong Questions and the Wrong Data

Suli Breaks recently came out with a video, ""Why I Hate School But Love Education". At this time, the video has been viewed almost 2,000,000 times and it has drawn more than 30,000 likes and less than 2000 likes. That is a whopping 94% favorability rating. 


The video raises questions and answers these with "data". Emmeline Zhao, associate education editor at the Huffington Post wrote a commentary on this video entitled, "'Why I Hate School But Love Education' Viral Video Points To Stupid In America And All The Wrong Questions". She wrote:

Suli Breaks has a point -- school might not be for everyone, but an education is crucial, and students should assess whether they're really in school to learn. But the arguments he uses to make it have their flaws -- evocative of this crisis of "stupid in America" (a phrase borrowed from a 2006 ABC investigation) that in the end, is only perpetuated by a whirlpool of communities -- and the media -- asking all the wrong questions about education. 
The "statistics" he points to in fact show, time and time again, that degree-holders have more opportunities and earn more than non-degree holders over a lifetime. The top dogs he cites as examples are exceptions to the rule, and have generally had some level of formal schooling.
We all have a tendency to pick instances that support what we like to be true. Anecdotes always make good conversation. I also do that from time to time. The problem is that these instances are interesting to talk about because of their exceptional character. The "exceptional" part is very important and should not be overlooked especially when one is trying to prove a point.  Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did not finish college and yet, became among the most successful entrepreneurs of our time. These are truly exceptional. Using these extraordinary examples hides the other and much more important pieces of data. The following was compiled and presented by Steven Strauss, an advanced leadership fellow at Harvard University, in a Huffington Post article, "The Connection Between Education, Income Inequality, and Unemployment":



Table 1: Mean Earnings by Highest Degree Earned, $: 2009 (SAUS, table 232)

2011-11-02-Screenshot20111102at11.52.53AM.png

Table 2: Unemployment Rates by Educational Attainment, % (BLS)

2011-11-02-Screenshot20111102at11.50.09AM.png

Notes: All amounts are in real terms; SAUS (Statistical Abstract of the United States) published by the US Census Bureau.
With the above data, one should wonder why Suli Breaks' video has a very high approval rating. Do we simply ignore the reality because there is something else we choose to believe? When we look at the data below:
Do we not see what these numbers really mean?  These scores reflect the education of eight-grade students. The poor scores here point out clearly that problems in Philippine basic education happen in the first eight years.  The TIMSS 2011 results have been published but the Philippines is not among the countries that participated.  Indonesia did and scored 386 in Math and 406 in Science. Like the Philippines, Indonesia has been reducing both English and Science in its primary schools.
The Philippines' DepEd's K to 12 program appears to have chosen to ask the question, "Why is the country being left behind?" With this question, the answer given to the masses is that the Philippines is among the very few that have only ten years of basic education. It is the wrong question and wrong data. Instead, the Philippines should ask "Why are the first 8 years of math and science education not working?"

What are we doing wrong?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Introducing Chemistry to Kids

The American Chemical Society provides web resources designed specifically for elementary and high school students. It is called "Science for Kids".
Screen capture of ACS Science for Kids site
The site contains activities, articles, puzzles and games that are appropriate for young children. Worth noting is its series of articles describing real chemists. An important part of science education of young children is to introduce them to real scientists, to give them the correct impression and image of scientists. The following is an example (This is taken from the page describing chemist Pamela Helms of the Caldrea Company, Minneapolis, MN):

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Vocabulary and Learning

My grandmother used to tell a story about "tibi-tibi". I am not sure how that word is correctly spelled. As far as I understand, "tibi" refers to hard dry stool often associated with constipation. In Paete, Laguna, where sewage mixes with storm drains, "tibi-tibi" is a character that floats with the flow, meeting others in the story as it finds its final destination. I think my grandmother got tired telling the story before I got tired hearing it. Oral tradition was the only way to tell stories then. There were no books, no pictures. I was not required to read, but I simply had to imagine inside my head the scenes and characters portrayed in the story. 

During my early years in school and this continued up till college, I found comfort in mathematics. Especially in first grade, all I had to know are the numbers and the plus, minus and equals signs. Algebra was a shock because I had to read problems to construct the equation. I could solve for x given the equation, but it was difficult for me to formulate the equation from sentences. Throughout high school and even in my early college years at the Ateneo, both reading and writing were particularly challenging. I survived mainly because of calculus, stoichiometry and equations. Even chemistry was difficult until I found myself reading.

Reading and writing are essential not just for literary purposes, but also for content learning. It is thus important to pinpoint what factors are important in developing reading comprehension. We learn both math and science from reading. We learn to relate and reason from what we read, and express this ability as we write. One of the factors that have been identified as a culprit in the achievement gap among learners in the United States is vocabulary. The following data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show a very strong correlation between a child's vocabulary and reading comprehension.

NOTE: The results for grades 4 and 8 are from the 2011 reading assessment, and the results for grade 12 are from the 2009 assessment.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2009 and 2011 Reading Assessments.
About two years ago, a program in National Public Radio, "Closing the Achievement Gap with Baby Talk", highlighted the work of Hart and Risley.

...Hart and Risley embarked on an ambitious research project. They decided they would follow 40 families — rich, poor and in between — for the first three years of their children's lives. Literally, they would record and count the words that were said to these children. 
"We really wanted to know everything that was happening to the kids," Hart says. "Who talked to the child, how long, how often, how many different words were said and how many total words were said. How many past-tense verbs and in what circumstances... 
...Hart says it took close to 10 years to transcribe these tapes so they could be fed into a computer for analysis. But the results were worth it. Hart and Risley discovered many fascinating things about the differences between the way rich and poor families on average speak to their children. 
But in the end, the finding that most struck people, Hart says, was not about the quality of the speech — how often rich versus poor parents asked questions or positively affirmed their children — but about the quantity. 
According to their research, the average child in a welfare home heard about 600 words an hour while a child in a professional home heard 2,100.
The results have been presented in various web sites. The following table shown by the Department of Education at the University of Oregon in its webpage, "Big Ideas in Beginning Reading", is an example.


  1. Emergence of the Problem
    In a typical hour, the average child hears:
    Family StatusNumber of words heardEncouraging words versus discouraging
    Welfare616 words5 affirmations, 11 prohibitions
    Working Class1,251 words12 affirmations, 7 prohibitions
    Professional2,153 words32 affirmations, 5 prohibitions

  2. Cumulative Vocabulary Experiences
    Family StatusWords heard per hourWords heard in a 100-hour weekWords heard in a 5,200 hour yearWords heard in 4 years
    Welfare61662,0003 million13 million
    Working Class1,251125,0006 million26 million
    Professional2,153215,00011 million45 million

  3. Meaningful Differences
    By the time the children were 3 years oldparents in less economically favored circumstances had said fewer different words in their cumulative monthly vocabularies than the children in the most economically advantaged families in the same period of time.
    Cumulative Vocabulary
    Children from welfare families:500 words
    Children from working class families:700 words
    Children from professional families:1,100 words

No wonder, Hart and Risley wrote an article with the title, "The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3". This is just the oral side of the story. The vocabulary of a child is influenced later on in life by reading. Hayes and Ahrens pointed out in a research article (Hayes, D. P. & Ahrens, M. (1988). Vocabulary simplification for children: A special case of ‘motherese.’ Journal of Child Language, 15, 395–410.) that there is a dramatic difference in the distribution of words used between oral and written forms:

Downloaded from Cunnighan and Stanovich, "What Reading Does for the Mind"
The "Rank" shown in the heading of one of the columns above refers to a standard frequency count of about 80000 English words. In this ranking, the word "the" ranks first, "it" is number 10, "know" is 100, "pass" is 1000, and "vibrate" is 5000 ( Cunnighan and Stanovich, "What Reading Does for the Mind"). The column "Rank of Median Word" then provides a measure of how common the words are in a particular communication. Abstracts of scientific articles use words that are seldom used while preschool books employ much more common words. However, the dramatic difference is seen when one compares written against oral communication. Television shows as well as conversations between college graduates do not really surpass children books in terms of richness in vocabulary. The last column lists the number of rare words per 1000 observed in these different forms of communication. Here, comic books are even richer in vocabulary than television shows and expert witness testimonies in court.

The vocabulary dimension of scientific articles sets it apart from all the rest. No wonder, with my limited vocabulary, I had difficulty in college. But enough about me, in light of the above observations, I would raise an additional question, one that was raised by Zanele Buthelezi in "Researchers, Beware of Your Assumptions! The Unique Case of South African Education":
"...There is even a shortage of books written in English. Up to five children can be found sharing a book in a classroom. The situation is worse for reading materials written in indigenous languages. Therefore, “bedtime story” does not exist in the African home vocabulary, especially in rural areas. This situation does not foster the habits of reading for pleasure and, thus, African children are at a disadvantage at school and do not become competent in reading textbooks designed to develop knowledge in different learning areas. The socioeconomic gap becomes even wider when richer children move on to computer-based learning, while poorer students continue not to have access even to ordinary books. Thus, computer technology merely privileges the already privileged. 
Many African parents tell stories from the oral tradition to their children. Folktales are important because they link children with their culture and help them to build a strong identity. But the typical patterns of meaning of oral stories are quite different from those of written stories. The elaboration of characters, events, and settings, and the relation of illustrations and text are highly distinctive in written stories. But an even more significant difference is the role of parent-child interaction in interpreting the meanings and words of written stories (Rose, 2003). Many African children are not exposed to this kind of orientation, which is crucial in preparing them to become independent readers and writers in school. The majority of children in South Africa start school without the necessary preliteracy skills. As a result, they have little concept of what reading means and have not developed the skills that make subsequent acquisition of literacy easier...."
These are important studies, one that should inform us in finding ways to solve problems in Philippine basic education. What does instruction using the mother tongue really require? We simply must have the answer to that question. Otherwise, we are simply jumping from a cliff. In English, the difference between oral and written text is simply staggering. Television shows likewise lack the richness in vocabulary.


_________________________________________

By the way, one could improve vocabulary and at the same time donate rice to the hungry of the world:

http://www.freerice.com

FreeRice is a sister site of the world poverty site, www.poverty.com

FreeRice has two goals:

Provide English vocabulary to everyone for free.
Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.
This is made possible by the sponsors who advertise on this site.

Whether you are CEO of a large corporation or a street child in a poor country, improving your vocabulary can improve your life. It is a great investment in yourself.

Perhaps even greater is the investment your donated rice makes in hungry human beings, enabling them to function and be productive. Somewhere in the world, a person is eating rice that you helped provide. Thank you.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lack of Equity Hurts Education

During this holiday season, I am taking the opportunity to look in the mirror.

“The main driver of steady progress of our school system since the 1970s has been consistent emphasis on enhancing equity, not academic excellence, in our school system.”

-Pasi Sahlberg, education reformer, Finland

The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) has the following data in the United States that demand our attention. First, the state of kindergarten:

FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN IN THE STATES

Release Date: January 31, 2012 
CDF has taken a snap shot of the status of kindergarten in America in order to focus the national, state and local dialogue on the missing half-step of our public school K-12 system. A thorough review of the literature was done followed by research correspondence and calls with state department of education staff for clarification. Finally staff at all 50 state departments of education were given the opportunity to fact check.*
Please visit the CDF website for an interactive version of the above map

What Do the Colors Mean?
GREEN: Full-day kindergarten is provided at no charge to all children per state statute and funding.
ORANGE: State only requires school districts to offer half-day kindergarten and cannot charge tuition.
YELLOW: No state statute requires any type of kindergarten program although many school districts offer half-day kindergarten at a minimum.
RED: State allows school districts to charge families tuition for the “other portion of the kindergarten day”.

50 State Factsheets

AlabamaGeorgiaMaineNevadaOregonVirginia
AlaskaHawaiiMarylandNew HampshirePennsylvaniaWashington
ArizonaIdahoMassachusettsNew JerseyRhode IslandWashington, D.C.
ArkansasIllinoisMichiganNew MexicoSouth CarolinaWest Virginia
CaliforniaIndianaMinnesotaNew YorkSouth DakotaWisconsin
ColoradoIowaMississippiNorth CarolinaTennesseeWyoming
ConnecticutKansasMissouriNorth DakotaTexas
DelawareKentuckyMontanaOhioUtah
FloridaLouisianaNebraskaOklahomaVermont
It is our intent to report annually on the state of the state of kindergarten in America and to support the increase in Full-Day K as it becomes a required step in our K-12 system of public education.
*Staff at all state departments of education were asked to review and respond with any corrections and/or edits. The following states have not commented on the facts specific to their state: Alabama, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.
Special thanks to Dr. Kristie Kauerz, Project Director, PreK-3rd Grade Education, College of Education, University of Washington for her assistance.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The following are likewise important to note: (These are copied from the "The State of America's Children Handbook 2012", also published by the Children's Defense Fund)
To read the report, please visit
http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/soac-2012-handbook.pdf










Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Private versus Public School, Basic Education versus Higher Education


"Here in America," Sahlberg said at the Teachers College, "parents can choose to take their kids to private schools. It's the same idea of a marketplace that applies to, say, shops. Schools are a shop and parents can buy what ever they want. In Finland parents can also choose. But the options are all the same." 
Herein lay the real shocker. As Sahlberg continued, his core message emerged, whether or not anyone in his American audience heard it.
Decades ago, when the Finnish school system was badly in need of reform, the goal of the program that Finland instituted, resulting in so much success today, was never excellence. It was equity.
-"What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success"  
The Atlantic, December 2011

Downloaded from "Private vs. Public Schools"
Both education and health care costs are skyrocketing in the United States. Costs escalate with people so willing to pay whatever it takes to get higher quality. Choice comes with a price, as long as the product stands out among the rest, the price is right. Since education and health care are basic needs, these exact an avoidable toll on society. These services also raise questions of excellence and equity.

The Philippines is likewise confronting these questions. Father Joel Tabora, S.J. recently wrote "Sweet Tweet: K-12 approved on 2nd Reading in Senate! But…" on his blog. The "But..." part reveals an angst that springs from a lack of clarity of what we really want. Here is one paragraph that describes some sort of history of the vision of Philippine leaders with regard to education:
...We’ve come a long way from the last administration’s position that the two-year deficit in Philippine education should be solved merely by adding two years to tertiary education! With the K-12 reform, we look forward to stronger basic education for all our people as the Constitution foresees.
The previous administration correctly noted that higher education in the Philippines currently does not meet global standards. Engineering and other professional degrees, their true value depends on how these programs are perceived by others. For example, Canada currently equates a four year college degree in the Philippines to two years of higher education.  To be admitted to graduate programs in the United States, it is also advisable now for students from the Philippines to have not just a Bachelor's degree but a Masters. The problem here, of course, is not simply a matter of years, but more on what courses students actually took in college. The developments in the past century are enormous that fields of study have expanded so much that undergraduate programs are simply running out of space in the curriculum. Take chemistry for example. Biochemistry used to be an elective, but now it is a required course for accreditation by the American Chemical Society. Some medical schools likewise have added biochemistry as a required premed course. For premed students, this requirement is made possible by reducing the required two semesters of organic chemistry into just one. The challenge to chemistry majors who wish to pursue medical school is  fitting biochemistry into their schedule while keeping two semesters of organic chemistry.

Tabora's paragraph takes the assumption that higher education is part of basic education, one that must be provided for all. Such stand obviously demands greater resources. Not everyone needs to become a physician. Not everyone needs to become a chemist. Yet, to make room for the additional and more advanced courses, years will be added to basic education. Since not everyone needs to be a doctor, the added two years in high school are supposed to be rich in choices. The senior years in high school are envisioned to take the students through various tracks. These could be vocational or for college preparation.

There are general education courses given in college so there is the impression that these can be assigned instead to senior high school. Such action goes against liberal arts education where college education is viewed not simply as a professional, technical or vocational training. There is a reason why even chemistry students are required to take courses in the humanities. What courses should go to senior high school remain to be answered. Tabora, later in his post, correctly anticipates a problem:

"...Unto this end, as many know, DepEd plans to hire new teachers aggressively. I guess you can accuse Bro. Armin, being a Lasallian, of many things. But timidity is not one of them. There was no timidity in his announcement that he will be hiring some 60,000 teachers this year for the public school system with a starting compensation of PHP 18,000 a month. Good news? Well, for the public school system, yes. But not for the private schools. Reason? DepEd will be getting its teachers from private schools."
The additional two years require new teachers. Tabora sees an impending dilemma between public and private schools. He continues:
As a country, we will have to decide whether we want to go in this direction. Allow the private schools to die, then, have all public schools. This is an option. But it has costs – either in the taxpayer’s pockets, or (if sufficient funding is not provided the state schools) in the quality of the education.
DepEd's K to 12 addresses problems in higher education. Doing so seems to create more problems. Unfortunately, Philippine basic education at the primary level has its own share of challenges. The poor performance in both basic math and science is a symptom of poor schooling in the early years. DepEd's K to 12 unfortunately does not address the real problems of basic education. Addressing these, as Finland has shown, requires a deep examination of what society really wants. The solutions are not merely cosmetic measures, that is, adding years to schooling or revising the curriculum. The solutions require a cultural transformation, one that recognizes what basic education really entails, an education for all.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Teachers' Bonus Released on Time, But Cut in Half


by Teachers' Dignity, December 24, 2012




The productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI) of public school teachers and government employees was released on-time according to the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC). However, the group’s monitoring this weekend revealed that several schools in some areas like Quezon City in NCR and Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato and ARMM provinces in Mindanao failed to receive the one-time across-the-board incentive of P5, 000.00 last Friday, the last working day before the long weekend. The reason for this, according to the group is likely technicalities on the procedure in the field. But it does not mean that the DBM or DepEd failed to release the amount.

The TDC reiterated their appeal to DBM and Malacanang to defer the implementation of the Performance-Based Bonus (PBB). Under the PBB scheme, teachers and government employees will again receive another amount ranging from P5, 000. 00 to P35, 000.00 depending on the performance rating/ranking of the employees and the agencies they work and expected to be released within the first quarter of 2013. The group, earlier this month assailed the government for cutting their PEI by half, since they received a total of P10, 000.00 beginning year 2007. They also protest the PBB which according to them is a deceptive ploy that would further divide the field and could not be used as a basis for the merit-based incentive this year, especially in the DepEd because it has no clear-cut implementing policy and is too late.

It is recalled that the teachers led by TDC sang Christmas carols and had a dialogue with DBM officials to convey the message to the president. The group is waiting for at least an announcement from Malacanang if it is going to push through with the PBB or will just give an additional P5, 000.00 to make it equal as the preceding 5 five years, a system which according to DBM officials is more practical and economical on the part of government.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Christmas Love at the Book Bridge"

When I was a child, our family had a small artificial Christmas tree. It was about two feet tall. But I was always mesmerized by a nativity scene that my mother placed underneath the tree. In a way, it was nice that the tree was small, the manger looked bigger.
In your palace wall mighty king
Do you know what I know
A child, a child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Let us bring him silver and gold
The scene had the three wise men (or three kings) bearing gifts to a child born inside a stable. And I have always wondered why with all our wisdom, we bring a shivering child silver and gold.

The spirit of Christmas as my parents had taught me is opening one's house and one's heart to the needs of others. I am taking this opportunity to share with readers of this blog an inspiring story from the island of Palawan in the Philippines. The story is shown here with photos and captions kindly shared by Cynthia Sumagaysay- DelRosario and Sharon S. Salazar. It is a story about a project called The Book Bridge.
Here is the story (photos are posted here with kind permission from The Book Bridge):

Construction underway so that grade 2 students don't have to walk 2.5 kilometers to the main school everyday just like the kindergarten and grade 1 students in the 2-room/orange building behind. Without funding from DepEd, construction is being done through the personal efforts of Mrs. Bucao, the school principal. The Book Bridge will also help the main school to have its own library in the future.


A young girl taking care of her 5 month old sibling.
The night before.. sorting and packing stuff to give to many kids. Each gift pack inserted with love. 
The night before.. sorting and packing stuff to give to many kids. Each gift pack inserted with love.
The night before.. sorting and packing stuff to give to many kids. Each gift pack inserted with love.

The night before.. sorting and packing stuff to give to many kids. Each gift pack inserted with love. 
More sorting and packing... inserted with love. Thanks to our generous friends in L.A., they sent us enough stuff that will make many kids happy this Christmas.
Bless this day.
This was when miracle was being performed. Mom showed up despite a deadline from work to show her support and help out. After realizing that the food is good for the invited 25 kids only but 87 showed up, teachers jumped in to divide the food.. coincidentally, the caterer has given us huge servings on this day, enough to feed all and more. A miracle.
This was when miracle was being performed. Mom showed up despite a deadline from work to show her support and help out. After realizing that the food is good for the invited 25 kids only but 87 showed up, teachers jumped in to divide the food.. coincidentally, the caterer has given us huge servings on this day, enough to feed all and more. A miracle.
And so we have enough to feed everyone.
And so we have enough to feed everyone.

Smiling kids that made the day.
Day 2 of gift giving.. we brought gifts and food for the 73 kindergarten and grade 1 kids of Barangay Jacana in Bancao-Bancao. 
Storytelling time, everyone really went silent and just listened... (Day 2 of gift giving.. we brought gifts/food for the 73 kindergarten and grade 1 kids of Barangay Jacana in Bancao-Bancao). 
Day 2 of gift giving.. we brought gifts and food for the 73 kindergarten and grade 1 kids of Barangay Jacana in Bancao-Bancao. 
Day 2 of gift giving.. we brought gifts and food for the 73 kindergarten and grade 1 kids of Barangay Jacana in Bancao-Bancao. 
Day 2 of gift giving.. we brought gifts and food for the 73 kindergarten and grade 1 kids of Barangay Jacana in Bancao-Bancao. 
Gifts for Jacana kids.
Gift giving day. Class picture.
She’s supposed to be resting on this day, after working for 6 or 11 straight days, she deserved a break. Instead of taking that much needed break, she came to the Book Bridge to help out. A doctor working in the remote areas of Palawan, our volunteer – Sharon S. Salazar is one of the amazing people we meet in this project. 
They don't really have to, but Ma'am Bucao said it's their only way to say "thank you".

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Fourth grade pupils, Fourth grade pupils
not passing in math and science
Let us bring them two more years of high school

At least, the Christmas song has rhyme....

May the true spirit of the season fill our hearts this coming year.
A Joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.