My journey as an Elementary Religion teacher (Christian Life Education as we call it in school) began in May 2012 in the Grade 5 and 6 team of Xavier School, San Juan. Though I never had plans of becoming a teacher before applying in Xavier School, I believe that God lead me here. I did not have any formal training in teaching then since I took my bachelor’s and master’s degree in the seminary. My first school year of teaching was filled with excitement and struggles. I knew how to preach, but my seminary professors did not exactly taught me how to teach effectively. The only consoling thought that I had was that as a learner I can still improve if I persevere and give my best.
I am also fortunate that I had a very inspiring mentor – Mr. Jim Tuscano (ADE class of 2015). He was the one who motivated me to use iPads and Macs to improve my classroom activities. At first, I was really hesitant. Although I am a self-professed tech enthusiast, I still felt incompetent to do 1:1 iPad sessions in my classes. However, the need to help my students appreciate the faith was greater than my fear to fail.
Religion and Values Education is not a very popular subject in school because it requires reflection and journal writing that students find very difficult and boring. This is the first problem that apple products solved for me. Students love to use iPads. Each time we use it in our lessons they become more interested to participate and do our reflection activities. We used ebooks to help the students with their reflection papers and we ask them to access the padlet sites that we made so that they can type their reflections, post pictures and videos, and learn from each others work.
During the school year 2013-2014, Google introduced a new app – Google Classroom. This application made me realize that I can do more if I manage my classroom with the help of technology. Our Grade 6 classes were first in the Philippines to try this application. With the help of this application, I was able to make use of my classroom time more efficiently. I no longer needed to print my enrichment materials since I can easily share them online with my students. My students were also able to do their task at their own pace.
My experiences of conducting 1:1 class sessions in the Grade 6 lead me to an opportunity to assist my mentor, Mr Jim Tuscano in conducting an action research study to evaluate our technology integration practices. The result of our study showed that more than 90% of our students in Grade 6 stated that they learn more during 1:1 activities wherein they use iPads and Mac computers to accomplish their tasks and create their projects.
In May 2015 I was transferred to the Grade 4 team. Through the help of the information that we gathered in the Grade 6 research study, I initiated efforts to duplicate activities and methodologies that will make technology integration more successful in the Grade 4. I tried to change my colleagues’ opinion that our students in the lower level are not yet ready to use iPads and Mac units. Being an advocate of differentiated learning, I wanted to give all my students a chance to show what they can do. I want them to perform excellently by not being limited by the pen and papers that we provide during exams.
Since we could not use Google classroom in the Grade 4 (student email requirement), I had to look for another way to achieve the same success that we had in the Grade 6 tech integration activities. In my searching, I discovered the seesaw app. This application worked so well for the Grade 4 students that I even recommended it to my other colleagues in the Kinder – Grade 3 level. We used to application to submit projects, keep online portfolio of learning materials and journal. One of the best benefits of seesaw for my students, is the ability to share their work with their family members especially their parents. During our annual parent teacher conferences, I even hear parents tell me that they were very surprised at how well their children answer reflection questions using not only text but also videos and photos. They even request me to influence other teachers to do the same.
My students success stories and their parents’ comments inspired me to find more opportunities to share my experiences and my students stories to other educators. I give frequent tech integration seminars during our TILT playdate sessions (Technology Integration and Learning in Teaching) in the Grade School level. TILT playdates are held 2 – 6 times every year, 60 minutes per session. It gives an opportunity to 1:1 teacher like me to share our expertise to our own teachers in Xavier School. Since 2015, I was able to speak in 5 playdate sessions. I was able to give trainings in the use of different apps for education such as Book Creator, Trading Cards app, Google Classroom, and Google Forms.
I also had the privilege of being invited to facilitate a breakout session during the 2015 and 2016 FIT conference. “FIT or Frontiers and Innovations in Teaching is an annual conference that aims to bring together education students, teachers, and administrators, in a venue for exploration, experimentation and professional conversations among like-minded educators. Through this, we hope to collectively ask questions and seek frontiers to improve teaching and learning in our classrooms and schools.” (SOURCE: http://xsfit2016.weebly.com/about.html) In our 2016 FIT conference, I talked about the importance of differentiated learning activities and how educators can implement this approach using apps such as seesaw and padlet.
I also joined the 2016 Philippine Google Apps for Education Summit, my first international conference. I facilitated 2 sessions during this event: 1. “Driving FIles Outside the Box” is a talk about the basic functions of google drive that educators can use to be more efficient in their different tasks. 2. “Next Level Hyperdocs” is a session on the use of hyperdocs and how it can be implemented in the classroom using 1:1 sessions.
Happy Feast Day Grade 5 I