Seminar alert!

At last! Raya and Nest join forces to give you one of the best seminars about Progressive Education in January 2017. Teacher Ani Almario of Raya School  and I will talk about a topic closest to our teaching hearts. We will also open the doors of Raya and Nest for a field trip as part of the seminar! Here are the details and we hope to see you all there!

Facebook Events Page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1155044611250691/?active_tab=about

Registration Link:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe_7tBNnYYRpTPz2wimYRiZLtqoUnkE0xI5Hdtn92k2hEl0vQ/viewform?c=0&w=1

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In Your Opinion (IYO): Should students still ‘copy’ notes?

I just came across a mom who was problematic about his son. She was worried that he wasnt getting high grades because he doesn’t copy from the board FAST ENOUGH. In the same week, I heard of a 6th grader who couldnt copy the 5 slides of notes FAST ENOUGH that come exam time, she had incomplete notes to study from.

So what is all this copying for? I have no clue. But if I make an intelligent guess, it would have to be … to kill classroom time.

Why will you make students copy notes on the board in this day and age? The only difference these teachers are doing now is making students copy from slides rather than the blackboard or manila paper. If every teacher only has 50-60 minutes to teach, why waste more than half of it making students copy notes? What is the teacher doing while this is happening (aside from clicking the PLAY button of her note slides)??

Then when a student can’t finish copying, he is labeled as a “slow writer” or his fine motor skills are judged as weak. So before I go and rant more, if you’re a teacher, a parent or a student, please ENLIGHTEN me on WHY should students still need to copy notes…. Then I will post WHAT teachers should be teaching them during these precious wasted minutes..

Progressive Classroom Activities (PCA) for August

For this month we have 4 classroom activities for you! From Dr. Seuss to Pacman, from green eggs to fruit salad, from Math to English, from preschool to the early grades…click on the links to check out the activities.

PRESCHOOL

EARLY GRADES

“Creative Schools” should focus on these 8 C’s

I’m currently reading Sir Ken Robinson‘s latest book, “Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution that’s Transforming Education” and he sums up what schools should focus on with these 8 C’s. Forego ABC’s or forget the 3 R’s, these 8 C’s are the core competencies that children should be able to develop and wherein all curricula should focus on:

CURIOSITY: The ability to ask questions and explore how the world works

Remember when all we hear in the classroom is the teacher’s voice because we were told to keep quiet the whole time? The learning process is a 2-way street. Encouraging learners to ask questions in the classroom, deepens their curiosity and makes them more engaged in the topic being discussed.

CREATIVITY: The ability to generate new ideas and to apply them in practice

The most downloaded and watched TEDTalk is Sir Ken Robinson’s “How Schools Kill Creativity”. Let’s be part of the statistic and watch it because it sums it all up..

CRITICISM: The ability to analyze information and ideas and to form reasoned arguments and judgments

Schools should focus more on critical thinking rather than information. Robinson says that they should be data-driven and not data-informed. Kids these days are in the middle of information explosions. They are bombarded with so much information online and even offline. They need to strengthen their critical thinking to know how to make use of these data, how to incorporate it correctly in his life and how to determine the truth from fallacy.

COMMUNICATION: The ability to express thoughts and feelings clearly and confidently in a range of media and forms

Children should be able to communicate their thoughts and express their feelings well. They should also be allowed to express it not just in written and verbal form but also in other media like the arts, dance, theater, etc.

COLLABORATION. The ability to work constructively with others

Children are social beings and an important skill is for them to be able to work/play well with others. Bouncing off ideas with one another not only strengthens their social domain, but also encourages good communication and critical thinking.

COMPASSION: The ability to empathize with other others and act accordingly

Major behavioral problems like bullying, prejudices, and violence stem from the inability of a child to empathize with others. Together with Collaboration, schools should have a culture of Compassion all the way from teachers being able to understand the plight of their students up to students being sensitive to the needs of the people around them. A lot of times, Conduct is only based on how the child behaves in the classroom, during class. Conduct is how a child conducts himself whether the teacher is looking or not.

COMPOSURE: The ability to connect with the inner life of feeling and develop a sense of personal harmony and balance

There are a lot of cases these days of children going through depression, anxiety and severe stress. Children need to develop not only compassion for others but also compassion for themselves. Schools focus more on the outside world when there is an inner world that kids dwell in daily which is built by their ability to control, understand and connect their feelings with what is going on around them. Socio-emotional development should be as important as cognitive development which is why schools should have programs that encourage kids to digress, step back, assess and express how they feel.

CITIZENSHIP: The ability to engage constructively with society and to participate in the processes that sustain it

The progressive theorist John Dewey said, “Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife.” Children should be sensitive to the current events of the world around them be able to understand and have an opinion on their rights, on the responsibility of government and the laws that protect them. Schools should not just talk about this in Social Studies but rather develop a sense of citizenship (not necessarily conformity) and love of country.

MomSchool series by Mommy Mundo

Mommy Mundo, the go-to resource portal for active, modern moms in the Philippines, presents the first talk in its MomSchool series on March 21, 2015 (9:00 am – 12:00 nn) at The Forum, Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City.

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I’m so excited to be part of it as I give tips on How to Find a School, Comparing Traditional and Progressive Schools and How to be a Partner to your Child’s Teacher. With me will be Ryce Calunsag of Learning Libraries who will be discussing How to Raise a Bilingual Child.

Participation is FREE! Please text 0908-865-7245 to register.

Hope to see all the followers of this blog so I can answer all your questions in person!

How a progressive curriculum is implemented OR Why playing Minecraft is a good example of the learning process

Okay, so I caught you on the clickbait. Bear with me. Minecraft will eventually appear on this post. In number 4 to be exact.

The scope of any progressive school is the same as any traditional school because we are all under the Department of Education. The department hands down a curriculum that guides schools on content. Then what differentiates the progressive school from all others when they need to follow the same scope? Actually , even progressive schools may have different APPROACHES on being progressive but the following are the general definitives on a progressive approach:

1. They maintain small class sizes. Even if there is a set scope provided by the Department of Education, the small class size allows the teacher to check out the individual strength and weakness of each child and can check if the class in general can assimilate the curriculum.

2. The teachers are given freedom to implement the curriculum based on class skill level. If they find a child that has difficulty even with a developmentally appropriate curriculum, the teachers recommend for a developmental-pediatric consult to rule out any learning disability. On the other hand, if they find that their students are ready for concepts in the next level, they are exposed to such concepts in class.

3. Activities are planned to make the curriculum more experiential for the students. Learning through experience is the Dewey mantra. If I ask you what you remember most in school, it is usually wrapped around a story.. “I remember the story of The Little Prince because  I had so much fun drawing the snake eating an elephant which everyone thought was a hat” or “I remember the order of the presidents because a teacher sang a rap song in class! Hilarious! ” I hardly hear anyone say, “I remember the poem that Jose Rizal wrote because of a Social Studies exam I studied for”!

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To learn road safety and traffic rules, these students went to a Child Safety simulation place for their Social Studies lesson on Community.

 

4. The teachers use creative ways to pique the interest of the students. So much so that the students themselves are interested enough to research on their own and deepen or advance the concept. This is crucial. Finland’s excellent education system is based on internal motivation. They create lesson plans that makes the learner more curious of the topic to willingly research about it on his own. Check out the kids who play the computer game , Minecraft. They know every detail of the game! This is because it piqued their interest, they researched on their own and they have a community of other learners to bounce off ideas with! Now if every school concept can be creatively planned like this game, more kids can enjoy the learning process more.

5. There is peer-to-peer learning or group work. As described, playing Minecraft is a perfect example in today’s children’s learning process. An important part of the process is peer-to-peer learning. Children playing any computer game, starting a hobby or reading a book, usually consults the internet for other children doing the same thing and they learn from each other! The student then becomes a teacher. And that is crucial in a progressive classroom — the opportunity for students to bounce off ideas with one another with effective mediation from the teacher. This is why progressive classrooms are set up with the opportunity to group chairs and tables together and group work is a major part of the lesson plan. This not only encourages peer-to-peer learning, it also strengthens the student’s socio-emotional skill of working well with others.

6. Their developmental checklists (specially at the preschool level) is revisited annually to check if the skills are still applicable to the current age level. For samples of developmental checklists, check out the National Association for the Education of Young Children. For the elementary and secondary levels, most schools follow a prescribed curriculum by the state. All have the same goals, the difference is in the method of achieving the goals.

Ultimately, the question is, do children who have undergone progressive programs reach their full potential? They do! I have witnessed all of our students go on to different secondary schools and one thing is common for all of them. Because we have encouraged their strengths and helped them with their weaknesses, because we molded the curriculum around them so they can better understand it, because there is a sense of trust between teacher and student, they have gone on and conquered whatever curriculum they are faced with, whether traditional or progressive.

How the progressive approach can make you a better teacher..even if you teach in a traditional school!

Last week, we had another Progressive Early Childhood Education seminar up North. Before we speak with teachers, we get information on the school and how our approach can complement and not go against their existing curriculum. The approach and basic concepts of progressive education can help any teacher, regardless if their school is progressive or not. So teachers, listen up!

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1. Know your students. Progressive education is child-centered. However, most traditional schools usually have packaged curricula that need to be unpacked regardless of the developmental skills of the students. One size should fit all. In reality, not all the students can follow the same pace.

During the first weeks of class, try to make a short observation log for each student that not only contains basic information but also interests, strengths, and weaknesses that you observed. If you notice a student having hard time with your Math lesson plan, for example, suggest websites that offer free Math activities. They can do this when they get home.

I understand that most school teachers have more than 25 students in a class and this may be difficult to do. But trust me when I say that your teaching can actually become easier if you try to get to know your students more and prescribe ways to work on their weaknesses and highlight their strengths.

2. Make activities more experiential. “Think of your most vivid school memory, whether good or bad.” I asked this from our recently concluded teacher seminar and their replies confirmed John Dewey’s belief of experiential learning or learning through experiences. One teacher said, “I remember a poetry reading contest that I joined and I was supposed to read ‘O Captain, My Captain’. Since the role needed me to look poor, my parents made me dress up in a dirty dress and they washed coffee all over me to make me look dirty. I cried when I saw the other participants who were spankingly clean!! I turned to my parents and said ‘How can you dress me up this way?!’ I had no choice but to read my poem in dirty clothes. Lo and behold, I won the contest!”

I asked that teacher, “Who wrote ‘O Captain, My Captain’?” She answered, “Walt Whitman”. The poetry reading contest happened 10 years ago and not only did she remember the author, I can bet she can recite the whole poem still. Why? Because it was wrapped around the experience of joining that poetry contest.

Children learn through experience and they remember things that they are involved in. I then told that group of teachers, that they are now the memory-makers of their students. I hardly hear children say they remembered something because they studied for it in school. They remember things that they have experienced rather than things they’ve memorized.

3. Use themes close to the interest of the students. In our school, our teacher are keen observers and listeners. They usually know what their students are currently watching, reading, playing , eating, etc. because they engage in a lot of conversations with them. I had to watch through PowerPuff Girls, Barney all the way to today’s Sofia the First and Dora the Explorer; read The Hunger Games Trilogy and other young adult literature and listen to Taylor Swift‘s whole RED album, just to learn what they’re interested in! Once you know this, you can use these to deliver your lesson plan and voila, you will get their much coveted attention.

4. Unleash your creativity! Believe me when I say that all of us are creative. Check out your strength and use that to jumpstart your creativity in your teaching. If you are a teacher who can sing, find songs that you can change the lyrics to suit your lesson plan and sing to your students. If you can draw, why not have illustrations in your powerpoint that you yourself drew? Find new ways to deliver an otherwise boring lesson plan and , again, you will get your students’ much coveted attention.

5. Work with parents. Your students are members of basic family units that influence their beliefs, behavior and values. You will only meet the goals you set for your students if you partner up with the people they spend most of their time with.  Apart from the scheduled Parent-Teacher Conferences, try to have small chats with parents during drop-off and pick-up times.

**We would like to thank the preschool teachers and Bachelor of Elementary Education  students of First City Providential College for last week’s PRESCHOOL EDUCATION seminar! If you want us to talk to your teachers or parents, you can contact us at teachertinazamora(at)gmail(dot)com.