Showing posts from March, 2013

Dissolution and Precipitation: Can We Transfer Ideas?

Susan R. Singer and William B. Bonvillian recently wrote an editorial in the journal Science. The article, "Two Revolutions in Learning", suggests ways in which online learning and research in science education can work together to produce transformative outcomes in education. Researchers in education can inform the online learning community with what works and what does not work while the online community can provide researchers with opportunities of quickly collecting vast data on learning. It is true that the online platform provides an additional arena to test and explore ideas on teaching and learning. It is easier to scale and it does have the appeal of being able to reach a broader population for subjects. Since online courses also carry the objective of making students learn, these courses need to be informed and guided by research in education.

Lofty ideas always look good on paper. When one gets into the details, things can get messy pretty quick. There are numerou…

Science: A Base for Relating, Reasoning and Representing

My son is required to memorize a poem for his first grade class. Those who have been following this blog would know that my son is very much interested in wild animals. Naturally, my son picks a poem about great cats to memorize. Here is one for a lion:

I've got a strong body And very large paws, Teeth made for killing And powerful jaws. When it's time for a hunt The females take charge, And the prey they go after Are usually large.
Last year, in kindergarten, he memorized a poem about a jaguar:
It's Latin America Where I always roam. The tropical forests Are the place I call home. My light-colored coat Is all covered with spots. And within my rosettes There are even more dots.
If eight lines will suffice for the poem next year in second grade, I think my son would probably pick the one for a black panther or leopard:
In dark Asian forests I ambush my prey. And my dark-colored coat Doesn't give me away. Like all other leopards I have spots on my back Though you can'…

We Are All Winners

When the median in an exam is 91%, it raises questions. A median as high as this coupled with a relatively small standard deviation, for example, 6%, provides a good description of the grade distribution. About eight five percent of the class scored 85% or higher in the class. Was the exam too easy? That would be the first question. There is a clear conclusion, however. Whatever measure was used (in this case, an exam), it was not discriminating enough to spread the scores.
In some states in the US, new teacher-evaluation systems are being tested. Preliminary results have been reported and Stephen Sawchuk of Education Week describes these in his article, "Teachers' Ratings Still High Despite New Measures". The highlights are the following. In Michigan, 98% of teachers are either effective or better. For Florida, it is 97%, Tennessee 98%, and Georgia has 94% of its teachers being rated effective or better. Thus, the preview from these new evaluation procedures says that …

Hapag ng Pag-Asa (Table of Hope)

The following is an article written by Fr. James B. Reuter, S.J., originally published on the Philippine Star.

By Fr. James B. Reuter, S.J.

The Philippine Star

At the entrance of the Major Seminary of the University of Santo Tomas , in Manila , you will see a painting. It is the "Last Supper" of Joey A. Velasco. It portrays poor children from Metro Manila, all between the ages of 4 and 14, at the Last Supper with Christ Our Lord. He has called it "Hapag ng Pag-asa", the table of hope.
To start with, it is not really a table. It is a big delivery box, knocked apart and nailed together again as a table. Joey Velasco himself has said: "This painting reveals a story of greater hunger than a plate of rice could satisfy. What these children are starved for is love."
Realizing that his little models were real persons, he investigated the life of each of them, and wrote a book, telling their stories. The title of the book came from a yo…

Standardized Testing versus "High-Stakes" Standardized Testing

My son is currently in first grade. During last year in kindergarten as well as this year, my wife and I sat down with his teacher to discuss his progress in school. There are no numerical grades yet at these levels of primary education in the United States. There are no numerical scores in my son's report card. These numbers usually begin to appear only after grade 3. The discussion with my son's teacher takes a significant amount of time as we go over various skills and competencies. The meeting basically informs us of where our son currently stands and warns us ahead of time if there is an area that warrants special attention. The absence of numerical grades or percentages, however, does not mean that our son has not been taking exams. He has been. And he does get a number that represents the percentage of the questions he answered correctly. These are "standardized exams", in a sense that the scores of my son in this exam can be compared against scores of other …

Teachers for the 21st Century

This year, the International Summit on the Teaching Profession (ISTP) was held in Amsterdam. One of the issues discussed was evaluation of teachers. And in line with this issue was a report from the secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report is entitled, "Teachers for the 21st Century: Using Evaluation to Improve Teaching".

Reading through this report, I am reminded of a statement Pasi Sahlberg made while speaking at the Teachers College at Columbia University, "There's no word for accountability in Finnish. Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted." Among the countries surveyed in this report, Finland is not the only one that does not have a formal national policy for teacher evaluation:

Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Spain likewise do not have a national policy framework for teacher appraisal. The report, however, is quick to point out that; "...the abse…

A Short Life

by Psyche Roxas-Mendoza Originally published in Philippines Graphic (Notes) on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 12:45am
Five-year-old Kristof Tejada did not know his Ate was dead. Pressing his tiny palms together to form a pillow under his tilted face, he smiled, closed his eyes and casually said, “Natutulog [Asleep]” to explain why his eldest sister lay still inside a white, glass-covered, wooden “bed.” He said he did not know when her Ate would wake up.  
Dressed in a Divisoria-bought wine-colored terno blouse and long skirt embroidered with red flowers and green leaves, Kristel Pilar Mariz Pangilinan Tejada, 16, wore her fate with serenity –– a far cry from the tuition-harassed Behavioral Sciences student of the University of the Philippines (U.P.) in Manila who took her life last March 15 by swallowing silver cleaner. Kristian, 8-years-old, the third child in the Tejada brood of four (not five as repeatedly reported in the media), has fond memories of his eldest sister.
Mabait na Ate si…