Dynamic Learning Program helps students cope with Sendong trauma

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/28 January) – A revolutionary innovation in teaching, applied in public high schools here has given its students an edge over those using the traditional, classroom-type, learning system in their learning recovery since tropical storm Sendong claimed a thousand lives and affected hundreds of thousands more last month.

One such school, Angeles Sisters National High School (ASNHS)  in Barangay Consolacion  — one of the worst hit among 25 barangays affected — was knee-deep in mud after the flashfloods last month so that when classes resumed on January 3, they only had a 44% attendance, Gil Araneta, ASNHS principal, said. But in a span of  two weeks, attendance had reached 90 per cent.

Araneta said they gave their students a series of Psycho-Social sessions when they started the classes for a week. He said the Dynamic Learning Program (DLP), a teaching method that takes into consideration the latest result from the fields of neuroscience,  has enabled the program’s students to cope with  their traumatic experience during the flood and at the same time revive their fervor for learning.

“The program is innovative in that it lets the students learn by discovering through activities,” he said. He added that since they applied DLP in their school, performance indicators of their students showed stark improvements.

He said their first year and fourth year levels championed the city district’s Math Challenge early last year. They also bagged second place in a Rotary International-sponsored Quiz bee, last year. “DLP teaches the students the virtue of discipline. The program is designed to maximize students’ motivation, focus, confidence and composure, self-discipline and stamina in learning,” the principal said.

ASNHS currently has a graduating class of 133 students. Because the program has lessened the need for classrooms and textbooks, their students were able to recover faster, Araneta said.

Academic innovation

Under the new teaching method, students are given activity sheets instead of textbooks. A session begins with the students working on activities on their own, while the teacher comes in to discuss the concept for 15 to 20 minutes to reinforce the day’s lesson.

“With this, the teacher will just facilitate the learning and because they only facilitate. We can now handle three classes at the same time on any given concept, for example Math. The program has resolved the problem of  lack of teachers since a single teacher can now handle more sections,” Araneta said.

DLP is 70 to 80 percent student activities and only 20 to 30 percent lecture. It is designed to solve existing problems plaguing the academe like the dearth of qualified teachers, few or error-filled textbooks and the large number of students per classes in public schools.

The activity sheets form part of a student’s portfolio which will be the basis for grading a student’s performance. Students cannot take their activity sheets home “so that the students can really rest and relax when they get home,” Araneta explained.

Megoldis Gantalao, 16, a senior student at ASNHS  Sisters National High School in barangay Consolacion said they used to live in a rented apartment in Abellanosa Stree, near the Maharlika Bridge. Now, they are renting another apartment in Barangay Gusa after Sendong flooded their apartment building.

“The program has encouraged us to develop our initiative for learning concepts. My comprehension improved,” said Gantalao, who was one of the finalists in Quiz bee on Consumer Rights sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industries in September last year.

For Apple Jean Dandasan, a junior student at the same school, however, Sendong was a traumatic experience since it totally washed out their home of 25 years in District IV, Consolacion. The Dandasans now live in a tent at the barangay’s covered court.

“Mas challenging ang DLP because we learn our lessons individually. It has sharpened my analytical skills,” she said.

Myrna Motoomull, Division Superintendent of the Department of Education (DepEd) said DLP has been applied to all 35 public High Schools (except Regional Science High School) in the city starting the school year 2011-2012 and “will continue for five years so that the maximum results of the program can be seen.”

She welcomed the application of DLP in 34 High Schools in the city division’s two High School Districts since its Secondary level’s performance indicators are far below the Education for All (EFA) Goals set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

In school-year 2010-11, the city’s secondary level Drop-Out Rate was 7.17 per cent. This means that for every 10 high school student, at least seven dropped-out. Its National Achievement Test  average, in school-year 2009-10 was 45.24 per cent. She said they have introduced “a number of innovations and interventions done by individual schools to address the situation, and yet the increase has been minimal.”

With the advent of the internet in the 1990s, physicist-researcher-educator couple, Dr. Christopher Bernido and Dr. Maria Victoria Carpio-Bernido, decided to leave the University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Physics in Diliman, Quezon City and moved back to their hometown—municipality of Jagna, Bohol.

There, the couple managed the Central Visayan Institute Foundation (CVIF) where the Dynamic Learning Program was born. they wanted to develop a teaching process that could both revive the new generation of students’ attitude towards learning and the lack of qualified teachers in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Motoomull said Smart Communications, Inc. in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress, sponsored an on-site program application observation trip for 36 public school principals of Cagayan de Oro to CVIF in Bohol,  where DLP started, and met the Bernidos.

The CVIF is home to the Research Center for Theoretical Physics and has been hosting physics workshops every three years, usually featuring experts from all over the world. Their High School Department pioneered the DLP through the couple’s innovative “Learning Physics as One Nation” (LPON).

After eight years, the program’s graduates now have a 10% passing rate in the UP College Admissions Test (UPCAT), one of the toughest collegiate entrance exams in the country. The Bernidos garnered the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2010 for “their purposeful commitment to both science and nation, ensuring innovative, low-cost, and effective basic education even under Philippine conditions of great scarcity and daunting poverty.”

Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award has long been regarded as Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Recently, the couple received the UP and Meralco’s Gawad Haydee Yorac. Whenever asked about the DLP, the Bernidos always readily reply: “We focus on the mind, the spirit and the heart of each child, and there we see untapped capabilities and incredible resiliency.” (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)