Friday, April 17, 2015

Magic Island Resort, Guimaras, Philippines

Introducing the model...Ms. Cheryl Ramirez, our Grade V teacher...hahaha

    As our summer getaway, our faculty went to Magic Island Resort in Nueva Valencia Guimaras. From Iloilo City, the trip was a 15-minute motor-banca ride to Guimaras island, a more or less 1-hour road trip from Jordan wharf to Nueva Valencia and a 15 minute-ride to Magic Island  Resort itself.

    The resort has a major island and a second one. We were accommodated in the second island which was more private since the island was reserved only for us. It has five rooms, each with 6-person capacity and a bathroom. Aside from the rooms for overnight use, there were also cottages for day guests. We also had our own videoke machine for 5 pesos per song and rented mahjong for 100 pesos until the end of our stay.
     We arrived just about lunch time. We were served with garlic crabs, caramelized shrimps, and fish sinigang with pineapple juice as our drink. The food was great especially the seafood. It tasted fresh. I can taste the ocean which I usually look when eating seafood.

      The major island has a beach with coarse white sand for the guests to enjoy. Our island, though private, has no beach or shoreline. If the guests want to swim, there is a stair down for them to do swimming. Anyway, the water is not that deep depending on the tide. In fact, during low tides at dusk, guests can cross from the the resort's major island to the nearby mainland. You can actually see intertidal creatures like starfishes, jellyfishes, seaplants, slugs etc. exposed in their habitat. I just would like to emphasize however, that the sea is their territory, not ours. Just observe and look at them, and avoid taking them out of their habitat just for the sake of taking selfies. 
    At dinner, we were served with grilled liempo, sweet and sour fish and talaba. After eating, some of my colleagues went back to their usual videoke and had hard drinks which they ordered from the major island. (The food, the drinks and other necessities can actually be brought from the major island through motor banca in which guests can go to and fro for free depending on the schedule). I, on the other hand, just enjoyed looking at the night sky and its countless stars while lying in a native hammock. As night went deeper, the perfect view of the bright moonlight shining above the sea and the hills was really relaxing. 

  The next day, we went island hopping. We saw a lot of islands with variety of shapes depending on one's imagination like turtle and crocodile islands. We also got the chance to stop over an island with a sort of cave and crystal clear water. 

Again the model...hehehe...sorry but most of the pictures here were grabbed from her Facebook album...hahaha

      Perhaps my most favorite part of the trip was our stopover in a sort of submerged sand bar with powdered white sand just like in Boracay. However, what amazed me was how it was very isolated and no human habitation was visible. It was uncorrupted and only the neighboring islands and lush green trees in the mainland can be seen in the view. According to our guide, it is under the care of the University of the Philippines which I was glad to know because I was hoping the place wouldn't be developed for commercial use. The place was so tempting that even some of us who had no intention of getting wet were enticed to have a swim. It made me so proud of the Philippines that this paradise is just kilometers away from home and we were blessed to be given with this beautiful God's creation. 

I didn't care about picture-taking.I was just savoring and enjoying the moment.The place was so heavenly!!!
    At lunch, we packed our belongings and went home.  

Of course, groufie before we leave....
    I think what also stood out in our stay was the exceptional hospitality of the staff. The man who assisted us whom we taught to be just the motor-banca operator was actually the owner's brother. The owner was as well very humble and the staff members were friendly and approachable. They really treat their guest with utmost importance and hospitality. 
    In terms of the accommodation, the rooms where we stayed were just newly constructed so it was clean and neat. If I could suggest something, perhaps it would be that their bathrooms should have something (sorry I don't know what it is called...hehe) to hang the towels and clothes on when changing. The windows in the bathroom are a bit lower so one can actually see the upper part of the head of the person inside especially if the light is on. I hope they could put curtains on the bathroom window to provide more privacy...hehe..
          Over-all, our one-day stay at Magic Island costs 1, 300 including 3 meals, 2 snacks island hopping. This package is available in groups with a minimum of 4 or 6 (notsure..hehe)  people. I think the price is very affordable and reasonable.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Principles of Teaching: The Art of Questioning

     Questioning is always a part of class discussion. It serves a variety of purposes: from calling the attention of students to generating ideas from them. As teachers, it is but important to be able to give quality questions. It enhances not only the learning of the students but it uplifts the atmosphere of our classroom as well.
Here are some of the primary principles of questioning for us teachers. Take note that these are just some. Let experience teach you to become better in eliciting quality answers from our students through asking quality questions to them.

1. Never limit your questions to low level questions. These questions only assess simple recall and does not deeply reflect student learning. Ask a variety of questions that stimulates higher order thinking skills like how, why or what if questions. Take note however, that this doesn’t undermine the importance of low level questions. Yes, low level questions elicit low level thinking answers, but remember that factual knowledge serves as a foundation for higher ordered thinking to take place.

2. In relationship with the above-mentioned principle, make questioning progressive. Give questions assessing low-level thinking going toward higher level of thinking. You can start giving simple questions then asking more complex ones. Simple questions, aside that they check basic knowledge of the lesson, most of the time enhance student confidence to answer. The complex ones on the other hand give proofs for more in-depth understanding of the lesson. Finally, give questions that would breed new ideas. Give questions that are out-of-the-box and that encourage creativity such as hypothetical questions like “what if” or “if you were…”.

3. Reconstruct your questions if they seem to be too hard to understand for the students. The previous principles state that we should give higher-ordered thinking questions but we must as well remember that it does not need to use high falutin words or complicated sentence construction. Use direct and simple words that are at the level of the students.
     Once I asked my students how a demo teaching was done by a teacher-applicant in our school and they said that the demo teacher was at the brink of crying because there were no students who can answer her questions making her demo teaching blunt and boring. I asked them if her questions were difficult and they said that they couldn’t understand her questions. The teacher-applicant could have elicited responses from her students if she could have paraphrased and have reconstructed her questions. The worse, I just heard a feedback that my students were labeled “slow” because of this.  I just hate it when teachers would easily judge their students to be numskulls just because the latter couldn’t answer questions that were in fact vague or unclear.
     If you sense that there are no reactions from the students when asked a question, it could mean a lot of things. Maybe they didn’t know the answer, or they were not listening or of course, the questions were vague or were not fully understood. Bottom line, simplify your question or ask it the other way around.

4. Address the questions to the whole class first then pick a student to answer. Sometimes, there are teachers who would pick a student then ask a question. If this is the case, the teacher limits the opportunity only for that particular student to think while the whole class just waits and observes. If the teacher would ask the whole class first, it gives the chance for all the students to think.

5. Give ample amount of time for students to answer your questions. Providing enough time avoids guessing and leads to quality answers from the students. Waiting time depends on the kind of questions you ask. If this is a low-level, convergent question, 5 seconds is the most time a teacher can wait. If this is a higher-ordered question, then 5 or more seconds is needed. Give extra time if the question needed revision in order for the students to carry on with their thinking.
     This may also depend on the kind of students a teacher has. Take note to provide more sufficient or perhaps longer time for students who are slow-learners. The teacher may also give hints or ask leading and follow-up questions as students think of their answers.

6. Deliver your questions in such a way that is encouraging and motivating. Some teachers ask questions with a serious and stern look making students feel intimidated and perhaps scared to answer. Inspire students to feel that they are free to express speak their minds.  This way of questioning entices students to participate and results to productive class discussion. Take note however, that proper decorum still must be observe. Acquaint students to raise their hands if they want to answer and make them realize that it is inappropriate to shout their answers or to butt in if one of their classmates is answering the question.

7. Use questions not just to assess students especially those who are only listening. You can utilize questioning to check if students are still “on earth”. Also call on those who don’t raise their hands to give them the chance to speak their minds as well.

     I was trying to include among these principles about how a teacher must react with student answers but I realized that this topic needs another post. So watch out (it’s as if that somebody really is watching out…hehehe) for my post on handling or reacting with student responses. 

image source:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Applications: Behaviorism

     The main application that the behaviorist psychology teaches us is the role of external factors in learning. The factors include the people around the learner, the reinforcements given and the learning environment either physical or psychological environment. The following are just some of the applications. Take note that you as a teacher can actually apply these theories depending on how you understood them as long as this will help in the learning of your pupils/students.

1. Use conditioning especially in establishing routines. Routines are very effective means not only in saving time but also in maintaining order inside the classroom. For example, a teacher will raise his/her hand and sign as if counting 1-3. This signals that papers should be passed at the count of three. (Pavlov's Classical Conditioning)

2. Drills help especially in retention and improvement of learning. Allot a time for drills, practice and exercise especially before giving a test. Remember to give feedbacks and point out the things that need to be improved. (Thorndike's Law of Exercise)

3. Let pupils have proper mind sets before starting a lesson. A pre-activity, mini-game, warm up exercise, songs, energizers, icebreakers and a lot more can be used by the teacher. As much as possible, avoid promising something that will excite the pupils/students and then at the end break it. This might cause frustration among pupils. (Thorndike's Law of Readiness)

4. Rewards can be an effective means to motivate learners. However, use this very wisely especially in giving material rewards. Also remember that inner and non-material rewards like self-fulfillment, self improvement, positive emotions, praises and compliments are more fulfilling than any material rewards. (Skinner's Operant Conditioning)