Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mastery Matters

After reading some researches on Mathematics Education and having a couple of observations in my classes, I thought of not giving homeworks to my students anymore. My reasons are personally valid based on the observations I had and the supposedly purpose for giving homeworks. Homeworks are supposed to be given for practice and mastery of mathematical concepts and skills. However, with the learners' bulk of homeworks, the extension works I have given them as homework were clearly done for the sake of finishing them and not being scolded in the classroom.

The truth about homework is that the students who have been performing in class well and seem to have mastered the concepts and skills already are the ones who would most likely do them while those who need them the most would most likely escape from them and end up copying or half-heartedly doing them. Goals are forfeited, indeed.

I decided, instead of giving homeworks, I could give all the exercises in the classroom. That way I could make sure that they are all doing and I could also provide immediate feedback -- straightforward when a mathematical problem is correctly solved and when a mistake is committed in any part of the solution. I know it would work but I need to put on another consideration and that is TIME. Time is one of the greatest constraint for not achieving something -- there has been too little time to a learn a couple of mathematical concepts.

It's one of the worst scenario in our education institutions today. Too much focus has been given on studying a couple of contents and students are treated like machines who are ready to accept all those things fed unto them. It's an ugly truth and I don't want to live into it. Learning concepts matters more than studying concepts because the learned ones tend to be applied more that those ones which were only studied. Studying and learning has to be differentiated in this case as not all who study learn.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I want to start with the NEW:

I have been so busy in the past days because the NEW school year has just started and, as usual, there are lots of things which need to be tried, redone and polished. I started a NEW learning portal blog for my students through Blogger platform. The idea was coined last school year but it was materialized only last month due to some considerations which I needed to put on for the learners. I already had class wiki last school year but I decided to change it into portal blog for easier customization to suit the learners' needs and capabilities.

I got NEW students this school year and NEW level and subject matter to teach. Like last year, I am still teaching Mathematics for Grade 8 and Grade 11 but I have new students where few of them are girls unlike last year where only my Grade 11 class got some girls. My Grade 11 students last year are still my students this year but they are now in Grade 12 so I got old students with new subject matter to teach. And guess, I am always excited because it's Calculus. I'll gonna be deeply thinking with my students!

Two weeks ago, I also signed a NEW contract with my school which meant that I would be working in Thailand for another school year. That's another milestone for me and my kids. I also had my Visa extended.

And now, the NEWS...

I already got my permanent teaching license from the Ministry of Education in Thailand. My temporary teaching license has already expired as its validity is only for two years. I did not actually sweat off that much to get this teaching license especially that I am a licensed teacher in the Philippines. That's the advantage if you got a degree in education or a licensed teacher from your country of origin. I just took a 20-hour training on Thai Language, Culture and Professional Ethics which is one of the requirements. I was so amazed how fast was the processing. Now, I am only waiting for the ID card to be issued by the Teachers' Council of Thailand.

Another big news bumped upon me and my students last week. Our entry in the International Schools CyberFair Contest 2010 got the Platinum Prize which is the highest distinction for a project in each category. Our research project "Save Bangkok, Save Earth" was under Environmental Awareness category. We got the platinum prize together with Saint Louis University Laboratory High School of Baguio City, Philippines. I am very happy and proud of my students!