When I was young, my mother used to tell me that I have 100 moles on my feet. In the Philippines, having 100 moles on their feet means a person likes to travel and discover new places or someone who finds it hard to stay in one place. I am that type of person because I grab every opportunity that entails travelling. My first travel experience as a student was when I was in 4th grade. I signed up for the Girl Scouts in the Philippines (known as Pramuka in Indonesia). We would go on overnight camps in the mountains. We would build a bonfire, sing our scout songs, cook our own food using firewood, learn to navigate and sleep in tents. We would also meet scouts from other schools and make new friends. Even now, the memories of these camps are still clear in my mind. Being a Girl Scout has taught me to be creative and independent.
For high school, I moved to a Catholic school run by the St. Paul Sisters so my travel experiences were far different from what I had had in elementary. My trips this time were inclined to the Christian way of life and related to caring for the needy. We would go to prisons to give C
hristmas gifts to the prisoners. We would visit homes for the aged and listen to the old folks’ stories. Most of the time, we went to orphanages and performed for the children and distributed gifts. With these experiences, I realised how lucky I was to have a home and family who took care of all my needs. I realized that the prisoners, even though they had done something bad in the past, still needed to be cared for. I learnt that our grandmas and grandpas should be appreciated and given time despite our busy schedule. My friends and I continued organizing trips like these even without our teachers or the nuns telling us. Now that we are all professionals, we conduct medical and dental missions (for those who have become doctors and dentists) or give free spiritual or legal advice (for those who have become priests, nuns or lawyers) or offer any services to prisoners, orphans or the elderly.
College was the most exciting part of my travel journey as a student. For my social studies class in first year, we were required to live among three of the poorest sectors in our society – the factory workers, the farmers and the fisher folks. I chose the latter, so off I went to Laguna de Bay, a famous fishing area outside Manila, for four days. I lived in a very small ‘floating’ wooden house with my foster family. The bamboo floor had spaces in between so that I could see the water underneath. While there, I listened to how they survived every single day. Some days were lucky, there was a nice catch, but some days were totally unfortunate with just a few to sell in the market, allowing only a little money to buy rice and salt. In my anthropology class in 3rd year, we went to interview the minority group in Nueva Vizcaya called Gaddang. It was a great feeling being able to interact with them rather than just see them in books or photographs. I learnt that although they have different beliefs and practices, we still have to respect them and recognize their contributions in our society.
Right after graduating from college, I joined a non-governmental organization, GUIDE, Inc., that takes care of orphaned and special children. One of its aims is to motivate these children and develop their motor skills, creativity, self-esteem and sociability. The organization gathers donations from individuals and other organizations to hold 10-day summer camps for these children each year. My first camp was held in Marinduque, the farthest place I had been to in the Philippines that time.
Now that I’ve become a teacher, I want my students to have the same experiences as I had. I want them to be in the ‘real world’ and not confined to the comforts of their classrooms. Experiential learning must be part of education. However, it must be authentic and not just only doing ‘hands-on’ activities. The children must be guided and reflection must always be part of every experience. Being an IB educator is like going back to my childhood because I experience a lot of exciting things, and what adds to the excitement this time is the fact that I plan the activities with my BINUS SCHOOL Simprug colleagues. Let me share with you some of the most memorable, meaningful and authentic experiential learning settings and situations I’ve experienced since becoming an IB educator:
How We Organize Ourselves
Our students went to MPR-DPR Building, the seat of government for Indonesian legislative, to listen to one of the Indonesian parliament members talk about how the legislative branch of the government works. Our students participated in a tour of one of the museums inside where they learnt about the work of past leaders. There was also a question and answer forum in the room where the official meetings are held. The students were allowed to sit on the government officials’ chairs.
Sharing the Planet
We learnt about different local and global issues, and one of them was pollution. Our students participated in a field trip to Bantar Gebang where all the garbage in Jakarta is dumped. There the students saw mountains of trash and realized the impact of their actions on the environment. As part of their action, our students had a Charity Fair at school where second hand items brought from home were sold at a very cheap price. The money they collected was used to buy rice, oil, sugar and canned goods for the children at the local school inside Bantar Gebang. The project was an application of their learning that a person’s self-worth is reinforced and reflected in doing service to others.
Our students come from middle to upper class families. They have their own cooks, nannies and drivers. In an instant, most of them can have the food that they want. In Chiang Mai, our grade 4 students had a different experience. They gathered the vegetables that they needed from a farm, washed them, dressed the chicken, cut all the other ingredients and made fire to cook their food. Eating the food that they prepared themselves was an unforgettable experience for them as it taught them to be patient and independent. Not only that, they learnt to appreciate and respect the people who make food for them; from the farmers who plant the fruits and vegetables and raise the animals, to their nannies and cooks who serve them the finished product.
How We Express Ourselves
Our Grade 5 students went to Bali for an immersion programme in preparation for their exhibition. They spent two meaningful days at the Green Camp, where they were taught how to decorate bags and make greeting cards using plants and recycled materials such as newspaper. The children realized that works of art do not only come from expensive materials. To be able to create an authentic work of art, an artist must be a thinker and an inquirer. One question students asked was “how do we turn these materials into artwork?”
How the World Works
During this unit, we learnt about the different sources of energy, and one of them was the sun. The children inquired about the conversion of energy, they found out that the sun’s rays can be converted to heat energy which can then cook their s’mores. Learning that the sun is a renewable source of energy, the students recognized that solar cooking can be beneficial as it does not use our limited natural resources, thus it is good for the environment.
Who We Are
As their summative task, the students conducted a campaign in school to promote healthy lifestyles. However, the unit did not just end there. As part of the action component, the school organized the “Healthy Green Walk and Ride” which aimed to raise awareness of the strategies people can follow to adopt a healthy lifestyle. These included promoting healthy living, and in doing so preventing illness, and reflecting on personal habits and making action plans.
These experiential learning engagements have proven to serve as a powerful motivator for our students. I have witnessed how effective they are in stirring up excitement, inspiring students throughout the learning process and practical experiences, broadening their perspective on lessons in the classroom and building motivation towards different subject areas. Experiential learning offers great opportunities for students to gain deeper understanding of the lessons being taught. Instead of just reading about the lessons, students can interact with each other and with their teachers in a less formal environment, where they have the opportunity to enrich their education with actual experiences. Most importantly, these authentic experiences provide opportunities for students to develop positive relationships and global citizenship, as well as provide opportunities to become internationally-minded which is the aim of IB.
I am grateful for my teachers who gave me opportunities to develop myself by providing me with great learning experiences. I am thankful to IB for their non-stop work on educating teachers on how to provide the most authentic learning experiences for the students. Lastly, I thank my mom for letting me explore the world around me. For the record, she still tells me I have a hundred moles on my feet.
By: Corita T. Silapan
Grade 5 Class Teacher and Level Head
BINUS SCHOOL Simprug
We are, by nature social beings who are constantly trying to make sense of the world through our interactions with others. It is therefore no surprise that we learn best when we learn from and with others. As educators, taking an active role within a professional learning network can be beneficial for our professional development. Below are some reasons why networking with fellow teachers in your region or around the world would be beneficial and some suggestions on how to begin.
Professional learning networks are important to educators because:
- we can share each other’s practices and hear each other’s stories to avoid local blindness
- we keep up with change, innovation and technology as we use technology to enhance our networks.
- we have a place to reflect on our practice and improve it. Feedback from others will be helpful for reflection to improve our teaching and learning practices
- we can build shared understandings of concepts and topics that are being discussed within the network.
To start networking and to maintain your network the following platforms are suggested for you:
- Blog: The most ideal platform to share current practices, not only for your inner circle but also to wider audiences (unless you prefer to set it up to be private)
- Twitter: Create a special hashtag for your community conversation which will empower communication or join a conversation on twitter using some popular hashtags e.g. #edchat, #pypchat etc.
- Facebook: Great for keeping in touch with others since many people have Facebook accounts. Create a Facebook group for social bookmarking and for sharing resources in your network.
- Google+: Follow famous people, join a community, keep updated on popular topics using the power of Google apps including Google hangout, Youtube, Blogger and Google drive.
- Flickr/ Instagram/ Pinterest: Great visual galleries for your network use.
- LinkedIn – professional learning network platform which provides a more formal look and context.
Personally, I’d suggest a blog as a good starting point for a professional learning network. It’s one of the reasons why we started this PYP Dunia Blog…how about you?
Yan Yulius – PYP Coordinator at Sekolah Ciputra
Having a chance to pursue higher education in Finland is such a privilege for me since as a teacher, I am aware the importance of education for myself. As well as being birth country of Nokia, Wifi Technology and Angry Bird, Finland is well known for their high quality education. Of course studying there is not without challenges, especially the weather. Experiencing -30 degrees Celsius and going to 8AM classes in total darkness are very extreme for me personally. Still, it is totally worth the fight considering the outcome.
Talking about the education in Finland, equality and trust are factors that I believe contribute the most to Finland’s known reputation for their education quality. Let’s take a look: the main objective of Finnish Education is to offer everybody equal opportunities to receive education and this objective is well supported by having free education for everybody starting from Day Care Services up to University level. Not only that, most education and training is publicly funded, there are no tuition fees at any level of education.
If we go deeper, we’ll find that in primary education, the school materials, lunch, and transportation are provided free of charge. While, in secondary education students only pay for their books and transport. In addition, there is a well-developed system of study grants and loans; financial aid can be awarded for full-time study in upper secondary education and in higher education.
As I mentioned above, trust is one of important elements in making the education great in Finland. Teachers are given trust to develop and manage their own lesson and class activity to achieve the learning goal as there are no particular ways of learning.
Another thing that I am very please about is to see plenty similarities between Finnish Education and what we are doing in SVP:
|Teaching style and class activities||Teachers are given trust to develop and manage their own lesson and class activity to achieve the learning goal as there are no particular ways of learning.||Teachers are given freedom to manage and modified their class activities guided by the Curriculum Coordinators. Planning is being done on a weekly basis and teachers are constantly challenged by the coordinators to deliver and create engaging activities that develop the student’s inquiry.|
|Teacher’s support to student||They are aiming for equality, where everybody learns and nobody is left behind.||Differentiated learning is being implemented, because we are aware that each student has different needs when it comes to learning.|
|Quality of teacher’s education||Potential teachers are selected carefully through University selection. The Teacher Education programme is known as one of the most challenging programmes to do and graduate from. It is compulsory for Finnish teachers to have a master’s degree as their educational background.||Currently there are many teachers pursuing their master’s degree and many of them have successfully graduated with a master’s degree. The school is trying their best to support teachers in pursuing good quality higher education. For example for the past 4 years SVP have been facilitating teachers who want to pursue their master’s degree by collaborating with a well-known university in Jakarta. Teachers are able to enroll in the programme and take the class in SVP’s classrooms after school hours. Teachers are really helped in this way, because they do not need to travel far. By next year the second batch of teachers who are taking this programme will graduate.|
|Teacher training||Teacher training is provided and funded by the Government annually. Thus, most of teachers have strong research backgrounds as their base for teaching.||As a practitioner of 21st Centuries Education and Differentiated Teaching, teacher’s skills and knowledge are one of the priorities in our school development. In SVP, teachers have weekly Professional Development meetings to be up to date and continue to be lifelong learners.|
|Learning Orientation||There is no national examination for students in basic education; teachers are responsible for assessment through an ongoing process of learning instead. There is only one national examination, which is matriculation examination. This is held at the end of general upper secondary education. The test result is normally used for admission to higher education (University or Polytechnic).||The learning is more process oriented instead result oriented. In SVP, assessments are beyond test. Teachers have ongoing assessment to monitor the constant progress of the students. The school has ways of reporting the student’s learning beyond just a report card, such as learning celebrations and student led conferences.|
|Learning Environment||To achieve 21st century learning in Finland, learning is designed to be fun and engaging. They are aiming to prepare the students to be ready with challenges that they are going to face in the future.||At SVP we are implementing the 21st century education system that encourages students to be creative, collaborative, communicative and critical in thinking because learning is beyond memorising textbooks or passing exams. Education should develop students to be inquirers and lifelong learners. Learning happens far beyond the classroom and the open learning concept is being well implemented in SVP. When students go for excursions, experts are invited to share their knowledge allowing students in SVP to learn beyond the textbooks or Google, so they will be equipped with relevant information that is useful for their future.|
In conclusion, according to my experience whilst learning in Finland. SVP is on the right track to provide the best education for our students. I am glad to know we are implementing a very similar approach to a country that is well known for their Education.
By Adelina Mulyani Go
Sekolah Victory Plus