In mid-May 2013, a seminar-workshop on “Development of Inquiry-Based Science Activities” was conducted by the NISMED Elementary School Science Group for 15 Grade III science teachers from three schools in the Division of Taguig-Pateros (5 teachers per school). This was in response to results of a survey conducted the previous year in an elementary school in another division indicating that (1) teachers need more inquiry-based science activities they can use in class, and (2) they do not work with fellow teachers in preparing such activities/lessons; the common practice is to just use available ones in textbooks and other ready-made resources.
The seminar-workshop facilitators first allowed the participants to relate how they conducted science classes, then led them in reviewing different kinds of science activities, eliciting from the teachers what they thought were the inquiry features of each, before summarizing observed characteristic features of an inquiry-based activity. The participants also experienced for themselves a series of inquiry-based activities on a science topic where they took the role of pupils performing hands-on, minds-on, and hearts-on science activities. Just before the workshop proper, they compared the features they drew up with inputs on inquiry as culled from the literature on the inquiry approach to science teaching.
During the workshop, the teams of teachers worked collaboratively on a first quarter topic, The Sense Organs, with each school choosing one sense organ to focus on. The three choices were: The Sense of Sight (Eyes), The Sense of Smell (Nose), and The Sense of Touch (Skin). Each team presented its output consisting of at least two sequential activities to develop the skills and ideas/concepts involved. Their peers critiqued the activities each team developed followed by suggestions from their Education Program Supervisor, SEI staff, and finally NISMED staff. Revisions based on the feedback from the latter were made prior to submission.
The workshop ended with instructions for the teams to incorporate the activities they made into lessons they would implement twice by different teachers in different sections. Each implementation was observed by other members of the team, the principal, the Education Program Supervisor who attended the training, SEI staff, and NISMED staff. After each implementation, a post-lesson discussion was conducted during which the implementing teacher first reflected on the effectiveness of the lesson based on student responses and suggested changes that could be made. Then the feedback from the observers were elicited and revisions subsequently made on the lesson. The second lesson implementation and post-lesson discussion proceeded the same way, producing a lesson that has undergone tryouts with actual students.
The procedure followed is an adaptation of lesson study as practiced by the Japanese schoolteachers. The adaptation enables teachers to develop inquiry-based science activities collaboratively and improve on these for use in the future. It enables them to reflect on their own teaching and empowers them to direct student learning, honing the latter’s inquiry skills in the process.
The seminar-workshop and school implementation were sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology - Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) through Project HOTS (Hands-On Teaching and Learning of Science Through Inquiry).
The teachers shared their experiences in doing this adaptation of lesson study at the NISMED National Conference held on 22-24 October 2013. Their registration was also funded by SEI.
The participants pose for a group photo with DOST-SEI and NISMED staff
after the distribution of certificates at the close of the seminar-workshop.
In a related development, science and mathematics teachers in Commonwealth Elementary School in Quezon City attended a similar seminar-workshop on “Assessment and Collaborative Lesson Planning” at the end of May 2013. The adapted lesson study procedure was also followed with the participants from this school with the additional workshop on assessment inasmuch as assessment is considered part and parcel of instruction and learning. The mathematics teachers from this school have actually begun lesson study in previous years but this seminar-workshop revived their enthusiasm for resuming the collaborative lesson planning activity.
Lesson implementations and post-lesson discussions have been done in Grades 3 and 4 to date. Two mathematics teams and one science team from this school presented papers during the same NISMED National Conference in October 2013 based on their experiences in collaborative lesson planning and improvement of the research lesson they made. Teams for other grade levels are still due for lesson implementations until the end of SY 2013-2014. The seminar-workshop was sponsored by Marikina Shoe Exchange (MSE) including the registration of selected teachers at the conference. MSE is also committed to support lesson implementation until the end of the current school year.
The science participants brainstorm during the workshop
on inquiry-based science activities.