Wednesday, September 29, 2004

To group or not to group

I am surprised to know that more and more students from my school are reading my blog. And some are even commenting now. I never anticipated that to happen. That is the reason why I identified myself. Even put my picture on the sides. hehehe Well, it happened and although I'm not complaining, as a matter of fact, I find that interesting and nice, I have to be careful about the things I write from now on.

Students reading my blog, as a matter of fact, is a blessing because I am no longer inside the classroom and there are a lot of things I believe I can still share with students. I can use this blog as a venue to say my piece. Double the blessing because I am not a good speaker anyway. Let's put it this way. I am a better writer than a speaker; a better musician than a writer; a better painter than a musician and a lot better of a dreamer than anything else combined.

Anyway, since students have been quietly reading my blog, I would like to dedicate this entry to them.

Let me talk about group work. A few weeks ago, I noticed a parent fuming mad along the corridor. When I asked her why, she said her son couldn't go home because he had to wait for his group mates to show up and be assured of a grade in their group project. However, from among a group of six or seven, only three showed up while the rest had either gone home or had to be elsewhere for "other" pressing matters without having done anything at all for the group. The task was given two weeks ago. According to the mother, the problem with group work is that sometimes, only one person does the whole work while the others are contented to have a grade without any participation at all. She was so disappointed to the point of saying that group work should be scrapped. I had to tell her that in spite of the problems posed by the exercise, group work has its own educational value. It teaches cooperation, working well with others, camaraderie, sharing resources, leadership and being good followers, resolving conflicts within the group, compromise, etc... True, a problem arises when one or more student wouldn't cooperate. Hence, I would like to focus on group work so that students in any school for that matter, may be guided accordingly.

There are several consequences of a group failing to do what it is supposed to do. Turning in a low quality output is one. At this time and age, mediocrity is a sin. With our present condition, we need to give the best efforts we can muster. Let's start that in school. Students whose works are below par need to work harder. They should learn how to work as a team.

Since I'm at it, I would suggest that a group be creative and original. Stop being copycats. If you watch the local tv stations in a particular given time, say 8 am, 12, or 5:30-6 pm and suddenly feel bored and decide to jump from one channel to the next, chances are you will end up watching the same format, practically the same, albeit with a little variation, of the same theme or concept in a different show? Channel 2 and Channel 7 noontime shows seem to have only one set of writers. And they are the networks that allegedly are competing for the number 1 slot. They are almost alike in everything. In the morning, change channels and you'll find that if one is showing the traffic situation, the other is showing the same. Exercise segment in one, change channels, exercise at the other. No wonder cable tv is gaining ground. Had the think tanks of both networks been doing their homework, we would have more choices, right? Now that is group work.

Going back to group work. The worst case that can happen is when only one person did the entire project. A group may come up with the best project in a batch but it is still a failed one when only one or even only a minority of the members actually worked on it. This is the worst because lazy people get away with it. We have several ways to guard against this. One of which is the evaluation using a rubric. Individual efforts should still be considered. However, since it is group work, a certain percentage for the output should be allocated, too. A good teacher must have followed the progress of the group but let's face it, this is not always the case. For one reason or another, there will be times when the teacher cannot do anything about it and the only consideration will be the final output. It is in this case that group work becomes detrimental to the learning process. Sure, the group could have turned in the best product but that is not the point. The point should be the learning gotten from the project. At any rate, what benefit would the student have from a grade that is undeserved? Take this to heart. Who loses from this rotten deal? The teacher who has been taken for a ride by lazy students or the students who did not learn anything? Lessons are prepared by teachers based from their knowledge and expertise. They sweat it out to prepare a good lesson for the students' benefit, put their time and effort to make their students learn. It is the duty of every learner that these efforts are put to good use. It takes two to tango. The teacher teaches so that the students learn. Don't waste everybody's time. Learn from every experience you get in school.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Translating word for word

One routine job for me every morning is to issue admission slips for returning students who were absent the day before and students who came in late for the day. Sounds boring, right? - - Actually, it is. But sometimes you do get to smile now and then at the letters you get and far out excuses coming from students why they were late. The most used excuse are: “Woke up late” “Had to wait for my brother/sister” and the perennial “Sir, traffic, e.”

At any rate, me and my partner had a blast one morning when a freshman student came to the office with a note. Just by looking at the letter’s handwriting, I knew it did not come from any of his parents. So, I was prepared to confront him to say that I knew for a fact that neither his father nor his mother wrote the note. However, I was surprised to see that it was signed by him. Since this was a new encounter, I immediately read the content of the letter thinking it might be a different request. Well, it was an excuse letter alright. You’ll get to know the content of the letter as you read along.

Me: “Hijo, first of all, an excuse letter should be done by either your father or mother to attest that you were indeed sick so that we can excuse you. You cannot write me a personal note and tell me to excuse you for your absence, okay?”

He just nodded and kept quiet. My partner was inside our room doing something and was smiling. I was at the receiving area.

Me: “You should also be careful with your subject-verb agreement, ha? When the subject is plural, you don’t add s to the verb, okay?

He nodded again.

I let out a sigh and then asked, “And hijo, what do you mean when you wrote, ‘I was already feeling hot?'” He paused and thought about it then responded…

Him: “Sir, feeling ko, lalagnatin ako. Mainit ang pakiramdam ko, sir.” My partner was not just smiling by this time. She already had a huge grin on her face but pretended to be busy writing something.

Me: “ah okay. You know what, you don’t say it like that because it means something else in English, ha.”

No response. Just looked blankly on the wall as if thinking about something.

Finally he said, “Sir, may scientific calculator ka ba?” (Sir, do you have a scientific calculator I can borrow?) It turned out he was about to take a test in Stats. So, all the while I was preaching him, he was thinking about his pending exams and where he can get a scientific calculator. That sent my partner to the floor. O di ba, masaya? (Take note, hindi siguro samin nag elementary yun. hehehe)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Look Ma, I'm a new me!

At last, I have a new template! Beautiful, isn't it? Well, credit is not mine, though. It should go to two people: The ever reliable Batjay who, in spite of his hectic schedule, manage to squeeze this into his work load, and Ate Sienna, owner of ManileƱa dot com and the spirit behind the pansitan blogging community. While I have continuously sought Batjay's expertise in computers, something I have not been blessed with, Ate Sienna's creations are a wonder, even to a supposedly graphic artist graduate like me. What a combination, eh? Thanks guys!

Friday, September 10, 2004

some plugging!

A good friend of mine, Omi Reyes, is opening his one man show for the nth time at Art Space at the 3rd floor of Glorietta 4 at 6 pm today, September 10. If his awards are not enough to say how good an artist he is, I don't know what else will. We were together in two shows and my friends who attended couldn't help but marvel at his virtuosity. If you enjoy my works online, you will definitely find his works a real treat for he is by far a better artist than I am. Since his works this time are about musical instruments, I believe he also has several musicians at the exhibit to render some tunes. See you there!

Enjoy her while you can

I have not been very active lately. I have a lot of backlogs in work and in blogging. I have a very good excuse. Last Sunday, I went to visit my 85 year old mother only to find her weak and not her old self. I tried talking to her but she would only nod and kept on sleeping. i thought she only wanted to rest and so I left.

As you may know by now, I celebrated my birthday last Tuesday. Birthdays are supposed to be happy occasions but on this one, I had the greatest scare of my life. I thought I was going to lose my mother. It turned out that she had not been responding to my brother and sister when talked to and wouldn't wake up. They called for an ambulance and took her to MCM where it was found out that she was suffering from bed sores. Apparently, my siblings did not know how to move her while in bed. Dr. Redentor Pagtalunan, our surgeon for so many years, God bless him, attended to her. He took charge and ordered for some sort of an operation to take out a lump from my mother's back. This created a big hole. I didn't know this could happen. Anyway, the doctors even asked us that should my mother have a cardiac arrest, would we allow them to resuscitate. A very painful decision was on our hands. After some careful deliberations, it was agreed that none of us wants to see my mother in that sorry state and so, we said, let's leave it to God. But in the meantime that she's still alive, we want them to do all the best that they can do.

Hallelujah! My mother is now awake and even giving us a hard time because she would keep on taking her IV off her hand, touch the tube on her nose that we had to tie her when we have to fall asleep so as to restrain her from causing her more damage. Her vital signs are okay which I believe means she will still have a long way to go. Boy am I relieved!!!

So, to all of you who still have your mother around, enjoy their company for we do not know what the future has for all of us. I did not go to school today to be with my mom. Funny, but when the doctor asked her if her condition was "gumaganda o pumapangit" She smilingly said, "pumapangit" then laughed. Yup folks! That's my mom. She may have forgotten who I am or who the people in her room are but she never lost her composure and her sense of humor.


In a different story, I was watching Dateline news (I don't know if that was current or a replay) the other day, and I found out that Americans go to Canada to purchase medicines because it's a lot cheaper there. However, this austerity measure will soon be gone for guess what? American drug companies like Pfizer, etc. have forbidden Canadian drug stores from selling drugs to Americans or face repercussions. hmmm, and I thought America is land of the free. Well, it's true that they have not prevented Americans from buying elsewhere but they have restrained the sources from selling them. So what's the difference? And all for the sake of profit. Shame! Shame!!

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Maybe they do tell something about myself!

done sometime when the cost of a Marlboro was about .25 each. Size: 24" X 30" Oil on canvass. Posted by Hello

Since I can't think of an issue on education to blog about at this time and i do have some idle time, allow me to post some of my works done when I was in college. These two nude paintings were done live. Yup, a model sits for us for three hours while we draw and paint. Usually, the nude study was our exam for our painting subjects. I think we had six. Nope, we don't get turned on. As a matter of fact, my first time was kind of funny because it was I who was intimidated by the female model who was looking back at me. (Alam nyo naman, mahiyain ako)

torso study done in college. Size: 24" X 30". Oil on canvass Posted by Hello

We usually had female models. Except for the next one. He was our first and only male model. A female classmate who was "todong hinhin" was late for class that day and was surprised to find us biding our time, smoking outside the room when the class had already started. (Nope silly. We were taking our time because we believe the male model was easier for us than painting a female nude) When she asked us to enter the room with her, we told her to go ahead while we finish our smoke. She hurriedly entered the room only to emerge out again much faster, shocked to find out that the model was male. We really had a good laugh as we looked at her paled face.

And the story does not end there. Our models were given 15 minutes of posing time and 5 minutes of rest. During the break, this male model would wrap a very thin, short towel around his waist and go around the room. He also had the annoying habit of putting one foot on the braces of the stool, and since these were quite high, his "thingy" would peep much to our amusement. Guess who was his favorite stopping place. Yup, my female friend.

The last one is a much later work. Compared with the first two, I think you can see that I have mellowed a lot. No more of that reckless, bold, harsh, I-don't-give-a-damn attitude of a teen-ager who is set to conquer the world as seen through the brush strokes and the color harmony. Well, disillusionment happens only in one lifetime so, I guess that was understandable. Besides, i think there is still a part of me that longs for being uninhibited. Maybe that is the free spirit in me. Enjoy!

Size: 4' X 4', acrylic on canvass. Compare the treatment of color and brushstrokes of this later work with the first two. Posted by Hello