Sunday, December 3, 2023

11th Magiting Conference: Magturo at Manuri


Friday, December 1, 2023

For Ouie

I was with Ouie the day before he died. We had dinner at the 60s Diner in SM Sta. Rosa. We talked about a lot of things from the mundane to the profound: how to pronounce “Randy” when we are in a good mood or otherwise to the calm and quiet demeanor of T. Vic. His mere presence would make him feel safe. Randy is the name I gave his BMW, btw. We had a good meal. Nabusog kami sa bulalo, chicken tenders, salad, mojos and rice. Of course. We had a good time. 

When he brought me home, my daughter, Zoe, immediately got dressed to catch her former VA teacher for a hello-goodbye-take care greeting. She makes it a point to do this every time Ouie drops me off at our place. And when she visits BA, she would run to him with a blazing smile on her face. That Saturday night, the last time Ouie brought me safely home, she held the same radiance as always. I was in awe at the sparkle in my daughter’s eyes waving goodbye at Ouie. I never failed to thank him for giving my stoic,  Nietzsche-esque daughter reason to shine and shimmer. 

Ouie is very good at it. He knows how to bring out the charisma, energy and effervescent qualities hidden or long forgotten in people whom he loves and cares for. He even manages to see the unique strengths and abilities of people he finds difficult to deal with. It doesn’t mean that he is a pushover or dismissive of the frailties and flaws of human nature. He recognizes and acknowledges them. At the end of the day, he chooses to be proactive and constructive. 

Hindi ko naman pinagtatakhan kung saan niya nakuha at natutunan ang ganitong katangian. Matagal na kaming magkakilala ni Ouie, pero sa BA kami naging close na parang magkapatid. Noong ibinahagi ni Ouie sa akin ang sanaysay na sinulat niya para sa kanyang pumanaw ng ina, nasabi ko na lang sa sarili ko, ah! kaya naman pala maaruga si Ouie sa mga tao at hayop na mahal niya at malapit sa kanyang puso.

Mayroong isang talata sa sanaysay na gustong gusto ko dahil nakita ko si Ouie sa ikinuwento niyang gawain ng kanyang ina. Babasahin ko ang talata na hango sa kanyang sanaysay na may pamagat na “The Light in the Kitchen”

“In the silent hours of the morning, she flicks on the light switches to light her way as she moves from her bedroom, down the stairs, to the dining area and finally to the kitchen. From the open door of my bedroom, I would wake up and see the light cast from the kitchen. I breathe in deeply and say, “Oh, fried chicken!” or “tortang talong” or whatever would be my packed lunch at school”.

Ouie loves to cook. Ouie loves to eat. Ouie can flick on the light switches for himself so he can find his way in the dark - with a bit of a struggle in recent times because he has been grappling with entropy physically and metaphorically; best of all, he turns on light switches for others to find their own way and eventually, they glimmer and glow.

To see the goodness in people. To seek beauty in adversity. To create something useful or noble from all of these life experiences is art. ART as a pathway to goodness. The formation of goodness is through the ARTS. Virtus et Ars. Virtue in the Arts.

When I told him I want to draw using charcoal and graphite, he taught me warm ups and sketching exercises. Then he wrote on my sketch book, explore your lights and your darks. In October, a few days before that fateful Sunday, I showed him my drawings of a plant and some foliage. He said, it’s time to learn about space— the positive and the negative. He made me a view finder and demonstrated how to use it. I didn’t know then that it was our final art lesson. 

I learned many things from Ouie about art and living creatively. At the end of every work week, he would remind me to never forget to go on an artist’s date with myself. It is self care. It kept me sane and happy. His mentoring gave me the confidence to draw, to paint and to make clay pots again. He inspired me to take courage in navigating the uncertain landscapes of midlife on my own but with the knowledge that I am never alone. 

This is how I will remember Ouie.   Lamp lighter; Star polisher; A lighthouse. A beacon of light that is beaming and shinning for ships at sea that they may push on to greater adventures and unto the completion of journeys and that, in the end, they will always find their way safely back home.

There is an exhibit of his art at the gallery. As you visit and view his works, please remember how Ouie made you smile and laugh. How did he motivate you to pick yourself up from a fall? What did he say or do that inspired you to risk or to take that extra mile and discover a talent, an inner strength or the simple ability to laugh at oneself over a silly mistake? What was the best moment you had in his class that you can carry with you when you leave the Academy? I do hope that when you have thought about it, it will move you to do acts of kindness, in big and small ways, or to work on something good, true and beautiful.

Go Griffins!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

National Book Week: Takeaways from the Read! Reread! Relive! Learning Session

I an grateful for the National Book Week 2023 Committee for inviting me speak about reading, books and literacy. I have been doing workshops and talks on these topics since 1997 and the research and trends show the constant need to grow and develop skills in teaching and facilitating literacy. Truly, we need band together to make a difference!

With these takeaways and comments from participants, rest assured that I will continue on. Fighting!

Key Takeaways

  • "There is much to learn and to improve on in library services and programs, and it is with gratitude that my fellow colleagues are willing to also provide their expertise and insights to help ones such as me who are not so confident in particular areas. The Read Aloud framework is very helpful to me to improve that aspect of my practice, not to mention the other theories and advice discussed."
  • "I have learned a lot from our speaker, and one of those is the differences of readers or the kinds of readers that enter and use the library materials. This is important to know because it helps libraries shape the policy or programs it has according to the diversity of its service beneficiaries."
  • " Being able to see the different reading models made me want to pursue MLIS. I feel that there are so many library-related topics that librarians can work on with their community as its main audience."
  • "This webinar is very informative, especially to school librarians in the grade school. I wish that more webinars like this will be undertaken."
  • "PLEASE ANOTHER SESSION WITH MISS Zarah G.. or Another workshop on storytelling or Read Aloud."
  • " Thank you for this kind of webinar. It is very short and well explained by the speaker. See you, next year! "

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

A New Appreciation of Interdisciplinary Essays

Again, from the Extended Essay Workshop I finished, is a reflection on the World Studies EE.

Module 4 convinced me to dive into the World Studies EE. I was merely wading in the waters watching however, the learning engagements afforded me the space to see and experience the interdisciplinary essay in a new light. The WS EE was not taken up in this detail in my last EE workshop - which was years ago. 

Because the interdisciplinary essay is academic writing that puts into action what students learn from the classroom in the discussion and breaking apart of real life problems, learning is more personal. I can imagine the authentic texts and sources students can use and engage in when they research. Where authenticity happens, kindness and compassion are not far away. Reading authentic texts have that effect on people. 

So, I am going to analyze our library collection and find out how interdisciplinary our titles are; how many own voice literature we have on the shelf, the case studies, phenome nomological research and texts that show local knowledge that connects to global issues. When reading texts and sources like these, a more deliberate form of note taking and close reading can be employed. Then, there is the collaborative meetings with teachers and leadership.

The world may seem to be constantly crashing and burning, but, here we are in the IB community making the most of the situation, learning from each other and soldiering on.

More on the Pivotal Task of Reflection in the EE Process

Gathering my "sparkles" from the Extended Essay Workshop I have attended.  

Sparkle 1: Reflection on the RPPF: Takeaways from the Two Videos

As previously discussed and taken up in Modules 1 and 2, reflection and metacognition are highly cognitive tasks. The manner in which the skills are acquired can be derived in natural environments such as social interactions from home and family life, friends and peers and the larger community. Like language and literacy skills acquisition, it requires formal instruction, thus, the RRS and RPPF in the EE are set in place and marked following a criterion. Beyond the numbers, reflection and metacognition permeate the EE process which becomes a set of skills learned by students who explore and investigate topics they are passionate to know more about.

The supervisor's important role in the 3 phases of reflection in the EE is an opportunity to teach, guide and mentor. Each phase has a role in learning to write an academic paper for the first time: setting directions and clearing the path; being aware of roadblocks and finding out ways to overcome them; recognizing mistakes and victories, big and small that contribute to becoming a life long learner. Indeed, the part where reflection is concerned in the EE process is a growth for the individual student and the supervisor as well. This is core to being and becoming. This is beyond marks and grades received internally and externally.

In my interviews and guided sessions with students, and when I dialogue with them from the First Reflection; to the Interim and the Viva Voce, I will be more aware of the feelings that students articulate and the breakthroughs they made. I will value the check-in sessions since these act as bridges or ways of follow through in learning; connecting prior knowledge and making sure that the writing has integrity.

Sparkle 2: Reflection on Assessment

The most challenging part of working around the EE and supervising students to reach the finish line is the idea that of external examination. The idea alone is challenging, yes. A decade and counting in the IB, I have taken the external exams as a measure to check our quality of instruction ensuring that IB standards and requirements are met. This informs policy, practice and philosophy. It is a form of assessment and evaluation that removes complacency and pushes teachers and the school community to continuously grow. In an ever changing world, we cannot afford to not develop.

Keeping this in mind, I see the assessments in the EE as highly formative. It is a long haul though, therefore in between the three reflections, check-ins are just as important. It is in this little moments when strategies and techniques in thinking and learning are fortified, flowing into routines or habits. This in turn becomes culture.

As an EE Supervisor, I need to pay attention on my supervisee's process of choosing a topic, or how  she/he arrived in that decision; how the RQ presents an arguement that can be defended or proven with the intelligent and responsible use of sources. It is at this point when timelines and self management skills need to be observed. And for the next meeting, which is the check-in, I will look for report on progress. This period can be a long wait, so the Reflection Space can be utilized to monitor if the student is working or not. 

In the Interim, as the student reaches the writing of the EE, more reflections can be had and learning gains can be reaped. It is noteworthy to look at the metacognitive skills of students as this juncture. Again, as a matter of formative assessment that can be given as feedback, this is information that students will value. Thus, reaching the final draft of the EE and the Viva Voce, supervisor and student can look back at an experience that had been challenging but difficult.

Writing my final report based on my supervisee's RPPF would be a task I will look forward to.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Talk of Books with Author Trina Velilla-Milan on Araw ng Pagbasa

Today is Araw ng Pagbasa. Trina Velilla-Milan, children's book author and doting parent to a teenager, has an interview on books, reading and the relationships we foster as readers for life. 

1. What books define your writing life?

          As a preschool teacher, I was exposed to reading a lot of children’s books. I, then realized the importance of these books in a child’s development and in beginning reading. How books are introduced at a young age will help the child appreciate books better. Later, then did I discover that some children’s books are more than just words in pages but can be also symbolic once read more deeply.

          “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” By: Eric Carle and “The Giving Tree” By: Shel Silverstein defined my writing life. Incorporating art in the illustrations with simple, easy to read words for beginning reading and with a deeper meaning and lesson that can be applicable to children young and old.

2. What books would you recommend to your son, Sandro, now that he’s a teenager?

          Great question! I would like to start simple. He has been reading the books assigned in his Reading classes but aside from that, I would like him to read “Who Moved My Cheese” By: Spencer Johnson, an easy read on how to see life. Understanding that life can get hard and other circumstances may not be as predictable but learning to go with it, to listen, to learn and to equip oneself with the right tools to navigate thru life.

3. What book or story you wish you had written?

          “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” – The Little Prince” By: Antoine De Saint-Exupery (1943)

The Little Prince is a book I wish I had written. A story that can be read over and over. A book with a lot of takeaways. Observations on life, relationships and human nature topics that interests me. This book helped me grow and there would be new learnings after every read. The famous quote is life changing to many and a great reminder for us to realize that sometimes it is in our heart of hearts that know what our eyes failed to see. What is relevant to one is something we cannot see but could be something we feel.

4. Which author of children’s book do you wish to have a conversation with?

          I wish to have a conversation with the most-translated, most-adapted, most-read and most beloved children’s book author Antoine De Saint-Exupery. Conversations on life, human nature and how he came up with such a timeless story that even after so many years, his story is still alive in all of us.

5. How do you select books to read – for your own and for Sandro?

          Most of the books I read are self help books. Books that can help me be a better person, creating my attitude, understanding myself and human nature in general. Unfortunately, Sandro is not much of a reader. Not as much as I would want him to be. I am still hopeful and patiently opening his mind to the world of books. Starting with the easy books like “Together is Better” By: Simon Sinek. This book can be used a conversation starter. Throwing in some comics too to get him to read and sustain his interest.

Trina was our featured author last October in the blog where she talked about her children's book with us, What the Sun Says to the Moon. Read the interview here!

Information on her book orders:


✨ORDER LINK: ✨ ✨GOOGLE PLAY: ✨ Last copies of the books are available at the Pinto Art Museum

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Writing the Interdisciplinary Paper

 Some notes I took while reading the two samples of the World Studies Extended Essay:

  1. Remember that these students are working on their first formal academic paper, and an interdisciplinary essay at that, requiring a problem to be solved; and argument that must be defended; a claim that needs evidence. How well prepared are they? It is important to assess them before venturing into the EE which can inform the EEC and DPC measures of support. Never assume that the ATLs are all taught well in the previous grades or lower years.

  2. Ask questions that will prompt the student to think interdisciplinarity and in connection to concepts of the topics being investigated upon.

  3. * Provide exercises for students to think in macro level to micro level; using strategies that can be applied interdisciplinary writing.

  4. * Allow ample reading time on sources and materials that show multi-voiced writing and interdisciplinary thinking.

Numbers 3 and 4 are not for the supervisors to do. However, I would recommend the student take on these tasks within the school's support system.

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