Sunday, July 12, 2015

Galileo is Awesome: The 3rd Singapore Math Learning Festival Plenary and Sessions


Wazzup Pilipinas!

What does Abbey Fleck, Richie Stachowski, George Nissen, KK Gregory, Hart Main, Frank Epperson, Sarah Buckel, Kelly Reinhart, Chester Greenwood, and Cassidy Goldstein have in common?

If you will Google their names, you might get results that they are just some of the inventors who came up with ideas at a very young age. At a time when most kids are playing with their toys, these individuals are patenting their creations giving them the right to earn from the royalties when their products are used and sold.

Galileo Enrichment Learning Program shares the vision of nurturing children to grow up like these bright minds by proving them with top class and innovative learning methods that traditional schools could not offer. It is within their classrooms where children reach their full potential to be more globally competitive.

The learning center recently held its 3rd Singapore Math Learning Festival's plenary and learning sessions last July 4, 2015 at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati city. The whole day activity had educators all gathered to listen to speakers who have excelled in their respective fields and shared the knowledge, insights, skills and technologies they know for the benefit of the attendees.

The learning methods and ideas will hopefully be echoed to other teachers so they can all teach their students valuable ways to become more productive and efficient.

Ms. Beatriz Maria Juan-Matti led the prayer as part of the starting ceremonies of the event aside from the parade of colors and national anthem. Ms. Ma. Rowena Matti, Chief Executive Officer of Galileo,  gave the opening remarks afterwards who the cited the 10 inventive children mentioned earlier. She was hoping to find Filipino achievers but sadly she couldn't find ones that equal the achievements of the earlier mentioned kids. However, she did cite the presence of Scott Chua as one of the kids who could probably be lined up among the bright minds.

Dr. Romela Cruz, Education Program Supervisor from the Department of Education (DepEd), gave the keynote speech. I took a video of the whole speech so you can watch it from the YouTube channel of

Next was the plenary session on the foundations of Singapore Math led by Dr. Queena Lee-Chua, mother of Scott Chua. It was so interesting to learn the more graphically intuitive way to solve Math problems. It is where you use boxes to represent units of numbers and with it, Math becomes so much easier. I also took a video of the methods and when volunteers come on stage to solve the Math problem on their own (This actually drained my video camera battery since they answered several Math problems. I was not able to take photos anymore afterwards.). Indeed, the problems become less complicated when it can be easily visualized using images to represent the numbers.

The uniformed men to perform the parade of colors at the start of the event where all diligently lined up at the entrance together with the exhibitors/sponsors booths which displayed their products and services.

The remaining time in the morning breaks the attendees into different rooms to attend different learning sessions namely Creating a Singapore Math Learning Portal, Games That Teach, The Magic of Model Drawing, Meaningful Math at Home, and Building Blocks to Algebraic Thinking conducted by Ms. Shiarell Loida Cruz, Maribeth Lamis, Tom Chu, Milona Barraca and Dr. Flordeliza Francisco respectively.

I attended the Creating a Singapore Math Learning Portal conducted by Ms. Shiarell Loida Cruz where she gave the following inputs: Make it known in your classroom that mistakes are embraced and valued as part of the learning experience and to deem as necessary steps in order to achieve personal and academic growth. Basically she is saying that we should not traumatize our students when they make a mistake. Failing should not leave a stigma so the students can always eagerly get back on his or her feet.

She also said that we should encourage discussions, debates and tangents among our students. Conversations are excellent platforms through which to springboard new ideas and get a variety of input. Discussion and debates stimulate creative thinking by encouraging opinions and contradictions. Tangents are undervalued methods of fostering innovation that build upon an original idea and take it to a new level of application. They encourage students to situate the subject material outside of its normal context and generate creative new solutions or situations. All of these provoke visionary thinking by exploring unconventional methods.

She also motivated us to inspire reflective thinking so we can create lifelong learners that will never cease to find new ways to interact with course materials. Field work can cultivate a newfound sense of interest or curiosity by allowing students to think from a different and more relevant perspective.

Before, the meaning of a classroom is a place where we conduct classes. Now it should mean a place for learners to be creative, critical thinkers, good communicators and collaborators.

The 4C's of skills are namely Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity.

She then encouraged the setup of a Math Center which can challenge advanced students and activities can be fun, plus your principal will definitely like it.

She then gave a sample activity Cheez-It Math where she uses edible manipulatives to get the attention of students knowing that they will feasts afterwards.

Lastly, she leaves us with the saying that the very best teachers teach from the heat and not the book or even the tablet.

After lunch, the plenary session on 21st Century Learning was conducted by Galileo Director Ms. Ann Marie Wongchuking-Pato, followed by Ms. Gail Tan, Country Communications Manager of Google Philippines, who discussed the Community of Learning: How a Flipped Classroom Works.

21st Century Learning conducted by Ms. Ann Marie Wongchuking-Pato shares that those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn will be the illiterate of the 21st century. She said that technology is changing how we learn, socialize, do business, and live. She also discussed the Smart Nation where Singapore is an example. It is necessary that we learn to adapt with technology since there is increasing longevity, a rise of smart machines and systems, we are now living in a computational world, new media ecology is standing out, and the superstructured organizations are evident.

Nowadays, the world is in the classroom, and the classroom is the world. Knowledge belongs to everyone, and expertise is built on sharing what you know.

She also gave an activity using the Galileo Tinkering Tool Kit or "Tinker Box" containing all sorts of items like colored papers, strings and other stuff that could become anything for creative minds. Two winners were chosen for creating the more imaginative tool in teaching Math.

Kudos also to the lovely host of the event for coming out with "roulette your imagination run wild" for the roulette entry and "adding more fun to learning" for the adding tool entry. The winning entries for the best Math tools created out from the Galileo "Tinker Box" were given prizes for their efforts.

A couple of Filipinos were mentioned namely Dado Banatao, credited for the first system logic chip set for IBM's PC-XT and the PC-AT; the local bus concept and the first Windows Graphics accelerator chip for personal computers, and astrophysicist Reinabelle Reyes who, along with her team, verified Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and her research on “obscured quasars” won her the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Award conferred by the American Astronomical Society .

Ms. Gail Tan taught us her idea of a flipped classroom. Not literally flipping the physical structures but a way of rethinking learning, reinventing lectures and reimagining classrooms.

She teaches us not to strain but train the brain of students by explaining that learning is not a one-size-fits-all. Students vary in comprehension, learning habits, information retention, pace and style. Reinventing Lectures meant to innovate by busting the false dichotomy. Science and Art can combine just like Math and Music can go together in teaching students. What's wrong with most of our brains? When on the right there's nothing left, and on the left there's nothing right. We need to get out of the books, play while seriously learning, introduce technology with a purpose, and allows students to build together.

Shifting the power dynamics can also be a very good motivational method in getting the trust of the students. To make them feel that you care and is not intimidating. To lean forward instead of leaning back is highly ideal to show them your personal interest in their studies. We should be active and not passive. Reimagining the classroom also means to humanize the experience, and be able to pause, play and replay moments.

She may have showed us a lot of videos to better explain intentions though the videos show activities that may be too difficult for the average teacher, but she did say it is not only about showing videos but to find creative and non-traditional ways to excite the students and encourage participation and command attention.

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  1. What a great festival! So shame that I wasn't able to visit it. I really wanted to listen to lectures of astrophysics and astronomers. I would ask about Planet X for instance, about water on Mars and moon, and other interesting questions.


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