Showing posts from October, 2014

Do Any Of These Performance Management Systems Really Help?

Various performance management systems are sprouting all over the world that it now seems that such practices have already been proven to be effective. In the Philippines, there is the the Results-based Performance Management System, which the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) completely opposes:

The following is a statement from the secretary general of ACT, France Castro:
"Quality of education in the country is not solely dependent upon the teachers. It is more dependent upon the learning environment, learning materials and facilities. According to the recently implemented RPMS, it is designed to squeeze us to do more beyond our limits by obliging us to have an output of 130%. Where in the world can you see a system wherein an employee is asked to have an output that is beyond 100%? This is something very inhumane and is in violation of our rights to be treated accordingly and rightfully. As a matter of fact, the present system already requires us too much. We are doing our w…

Worked Examples

Some educators do express an aversion to spoon-feeding because the process somehow implies that a student is provided with so much help that there is no room left for thinking. Perhaps, there is indeed no more need to think, but educators must remind themselves that learning is different from thinking. Thinking requires expertise or experience. Learning, on the other hand, oftentimes starts from scratch. Providing steps to students is necessary. This guidance acts as a scaffold to support learning. Inquiry in the hands of a novice can be easily unsuccessful if the learner is not provided with anything. What is important is to figure out the amount and type of support that is needed. One may appreciate this with IKEA manuals. Assembling a child's chair like the one below does not need multiple pages:

But assembling the following cabinet from more than a hundred pieces obviously requires looking at a multi-page manual:
Learning chemistry is no different from being able to assemble f…

Can an Online Tutoring Program Help in Algebra?

I was browsing the internet last night to find sites that might help my son improve his reading comprehension. One thing I noticed with various sites was that, although it might seem at first a child would be able to navigate easily, there were in fact numerous stumbling blocks. Learning or working on anything online obviously has prerequisites which adults may easily overlook. The effectiveness of an online tutoring program still hinges significantly on guidance. Thus, there is clearly a strong argument in favor of blended learning, one that mixes online learning with classroom instruction. However, the question remains on how much an online program really contributes to learning. This question has been addressed by numerous studies and results are unfortunately murky. One example is a paper recently published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis:

"Improving the median student's performance by approximately eight percentile points" may indeed sound impressive. …

Reading Comprehension (Online Tools)

The internet does provide an excellent avenue for us to find tools that may help our children learn. These tools are, however, quite useful not so much because of the technology they provide but because of the content that they make accessible. My son, currently in third grade, is asked to read at least for half an hour each weekday to develop both stamina and skills in reading. There are, fortunately, books for children that are now available online. With half an hour each day, one may easily find not having enough children's books at home. But there are resources on the web that provide more than just reading materials. My son and I have been using sites compiled by internet4classrooms. One of the sites is Harcourt Publishers' Test Tutor:

The above is an example of a short story and this is accompanied with a set of questions that can be used to assess a child's reading comprehension. The question shown here illustrates an example of a question that can not be answered c…

How Not to Attract the Needed Talent to the Teaching Profession

The world just celebrated Teachers' Day on last October 5, recognizing the important role teachers play in our future.
Unfortunately, such critical message seems to have not reached everyone. Investing in teachers means equipping and preparing them so that they could perform their job well both inside and outside the classroom. This is the important message: We need to support our teachers. The world needs teachers, good and effective teachers yet some still focus on the other side of the story, the world needs to fire teachers if they are not performing well. Sadly, the cover page for the coming issue of Time magazine only highlights this wrong-headed notion:

There are several reasons why a fixation on the ability to fire teachers is problematic. First and foremost, equating the evaluation of a teacher's performance to how other professions are measured is incorrect. Learning outcomes or students' scores on standardized exams are influenced by several factors in addition …

Medium of Instruction and Science Learning

Apparently in Chinese, a single word can be used to convey either "heat" or hot":

This obviously could be confusing to a high school student who is trying to learn fundamental physics in Chinese. Science learning does require much more than just grasping concepts. Science requires a certain precision in academic language. Even in English, force and power may seem interchangeable in everyday conversations, but in physics, these two correspond to two distinct quantities. Hence, the question of how the medium of instruction affects science learning is an important issue to address especially now that most learning resources for the sciences are in English.

A paper scheduled to be published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching tackles this question by performing a quasi-experimental study in a secondary school in Hong Kong. Participants (about 200 students) come from working class families. For about half of the students, the highest educational attainment of the …

Online Versus Face to Face

One can read a chemistry textbook from cover to cover. How much one would learn by doing so depends on one's motivation, the ability to comprehend, and the capacity to commit information to long term memory. Of course, the same factors are in play when trying to learn chemistry from an instructor. The important question is whether face-to-face interactions, what traditional classrooms offer, really makes a difference. This question is addressed in part by a study recently published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching:

This study looks specifically at the difference between online and face-to-face collaborative learning among students in a public middle school (grade 8) in central Virginia. The online platform used in the study, Edmodo, allows students in the experimental group to work on their collaborative assignments, which include reading files, answering online quizzes, and participating in discussion threads.

The control group does all of the above as well, but ins…

Can DepEd Deliver Anything on Time?

by Joy Rizal
It seems the ONLY things that DepEd has the ability to keep and insure will happen on time, according to schedule, are breaks and holidays.
According to the official DepEd Schedule (DO_s2014_18), last Thursday and Friday, October 16-17, 2014 were supposed to be the dates that second quarter exams would be given,with the week of October 20-24 as mid term assessment and INSET as well as a semester break for students. Report cards are to be given at a parent teacher conference on Saturday Oct 25, 2014. 

That all sounds well and good, EXCEPT for the fact DepEd living up to its standard level of incompetence, has not seen a need to bother creating, or at least not seen a need to bother distributing, the exams for the schools to use.   Not even a single copy of the exams for the schools (at least not for the elementary schools in our area) to replicate.  
This of course would make distributing (honest) report cards at the parent teacher conference (which will most likely be canc…

Understanding Angles

While not understanding fractions can become an obstacle in performing well in algebra, a misconception of what angles are can really pull a student behind in geometry. For people who do not have problems with angles, it may sound strange but it is possible that one major stumbling block in achieving proficiency with angles is language. It is as simple as not understanding what the word "angle" really means. In geometry, the word "angle" precisely means one thing. It is a measure of the amount of turn between two lines. It could be acute (The following figures are obtained from MathIsFun):

It could be right:

It could be obtuse:

It could be straight:

It could be reflex:

Or it could be zero, or a complete rotation:

How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child?

How much raising a child would cost depends of course on where you live. In the United States, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released a report that estimates how much currently rearing a child costs. The numbers range between $12,800 and $14,970 annually. A family of four children should expect to spend less, as the average goes down by about 22% per child, but the numbers are still quite substantial, about $40,000 per year. A family with four children earning an annual household income (before tax) of $60,000 clearly has to exercise tight budgeting.

The following is an infographic from the USDA summarizing the report:

Raising a child from birth to age 18 (before college) costs $245,340. This is the average. Raising a child in a rural area is cheaper, but still requires $193,590. These numbers should not be surprising however. Child care, for example, in Fairfax county costs about $250 per child per week. This alone costs over $10,000 per year. Even with free tuition i…

Basic Education Is Not a Cure for Unemployment

Though it sounds attractive to a lot of people, the suggestion that education is the solution to high unemployment should be taken with a great deal of skepticism. If the reason behind unemployment is lack of skills then the number of jobs available must be high enough to support this hypothesis. The fact is that unemployment is not so much about not being able to fill positions but more about no positions to be filled. Unemployment oftentimes is caused by a low number of jobs available. As Laurence Mishel pointed out in a report published by the Economic Policy Institute, even in the United States, there are college graduates who are unemployed.
The employment situation in the Philippines is no exception. It is clearly wrong to suggest that the unemployment is due to some gap in skills. Laborers and unskilled workers comprise the majority of the employed in the Philippines. And according to the National Statistics Office of the Philippines, about one in five of the unemployed is a co…