How Dynamic Learning Program Revolutionized Learning

When public schools in Cagayan de Oro were hit by the brunt of tropical storm Sendong in 2012, schools resorted to a teaching methodology that responded to the call of times. No homework. Minimal face-to-face/in-person classes. Activity-based seatwork. Yet, the new learning method churned out high-scoring students instead of high school dropouts.

Photo taken from Sunstar

Thanks to the Dynamic Learning Program (DLP), which was developed Ramon Magsaysay awardees Dr. Christopher Bernido and Dr. Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido. DLP was first used in Central Visayan Institute Foundation (CVIF) in Jagna, Bohol  that aims to develop learning independence to improve a student’s academic performance. The Bernidos, who are both physicists, have proven through scientific studies and through actual implementation that 80% student activity plus four academic days and zero homework will lead to better student performance. Also the methodology responded to the lack of good materials, big class size, and lack of expert teachers in public schools, and now perhaps may be the best way to address the challenges posited by COVID-19 pandemic on our education system. 

Drs. Christopher and Ma. Victoria Bernido

As a framework of teaching, DLP uses four non-negotiable components:

A. Activity-Based Multi-Domain Learning using Learning Activity Sheets

By design, 70% of the class time is spent with the students performing individual tasks aimed to help him to be self-sufficient as a problem solver. The remaining 30% of the class time is devoted to the session led by the expert teacher for reinforcing right principles uncovered, or correcting wrong impressions and interpretations of the subject matter. During this time, students who had performed the activity and tried answering the questions and exercises, will be in a state of mind that fosters attentiveness and deep learning. A typical Learning Activity Sheet (LAS) consists of:

a. concept notes/digest – Introduction; background, concept or main idea to be learned

b. example – sample problem and solution

c. questions/study guide/exercises/drills/graphs/drawing

LAS is usually one-page long. Topics are spread into bite-size LAS so that it won’t take much of the writing time of the student. Since DLP is a process-induced learning method, STUDENTS HAVE TO COPY THE LAS BY HAND WORD FOR WORD BEFORE A LECTURE. Thus it is important the LAS is teacher-generated and comprehensive.

sample LAS

CITE Practice: In 2013, we adopted DLP as a methodology to change the paradigm into learner-centered. Instead of endless lectures of teachers, DLP zeroed in on the students as the center of teaching-learning process. With a well-designed LAS, teachers come into the class for clarificatory purposes only. Sometimes, the whole stretch of period can be used for answering the LAS and the clarificatory or contact time can be done in the following week. Since this is self-paced, students who are advanced can move on to the next LAS.  Contrary to the CVIF-DLP practice, we discouraged writing on the board to be copied by the students. Instead, we provide students copies of LAS for copying. To keep the class in order, we assigned an adult facilitator in the classroom.

B. In-school Comprehensive Student Portfolio

This is a compilation of all the learning activity sheets accomplished by the student per subject in a folder portfolio. The reflective teacher can thus make use of this as a highly effective evaluative tool for continuing enhancement of learning processes. 

CITE Practice: We provided each student a ring binder where he can place all his activity sheets and leave them in cabinets under lock and key. Sometimes a student can bring his binder so he can do advance study at home. 

C. Comprehensive Teachers’ Portfolio.

Instead of lesson plans, every expert teacher has a comprehensive teachers’ portfolio which include the following:

  1. Implementation Plan with complete references and timetable
  2. All learning activities ( in exact format to be given to the students
  3. CBT from TESDA
  4. Long examinations and quizzes with answer key
  5. Table of specifications for exams

The expert’s important responsibility is to design learning activities well. Learning activities are prepared taking into consideration that THERE IS NO INTRODUCTORY LECTURE given by the expert teacher before students work on the activity. 

LECTURES, DISCUSSION FOR CLARIFICATION AND INTERACTION ARE ALWAYS DONE AFTER THE STUDENTS HAVE WORKED ON THE LEARNING ACTIVITY.

CITE Practice: This comprehensive portfolio is available to all other teachers. If by chance a teacher called in sick, it is easy to substitute his class by following his trail of LAS. This ensured that no class was left idle.

D. Parallel Classes Scheme- Controlling Teacher Intervention.

It is specifically designed to enable a schedule of classes that harmonizes with natural biological cycles. It places difficult subjects in the earlier morning periods when the students’ minds are still fresh and more capable of longer concentration time. Less mathematically rigorous subjects are scheduled during the latter part of the day.

Expert teachers – regular subject teachers; they prepare the syllabus, learning activities, quizzes and exams, and evaluate the performance of the students.

Facilitators – take care of classroom management. They answer only questions on instructions. They do not answer questions on subject content, even if they think they know the answers.

CITE Practice: The first year of our implementation was labor pains. One teacher can have 5 classes for parallel classes, with a minimum of 2. It was tough balancing your time from hopping from one class to another. Sometimes a lecture-prone teacher would extend in classes with learning difficulties compared to advanced classes.

Students doing independent learning

Of course, there is the component of strategic rest by discouraging homework so that parents at home will not do the activities of the students.  It also an approach to promoting adequate rest, allowing student to have quality time at home and developing good habits on time management,

PEDAGOGICAL MAXIMS

1. Learning by doing. For deep learning, students need to think with their own minds and work with their own hands.

2. Less talking and more doing. For pit-stop efficiency, less talk is a must.
3. Sound fundamentals. Virtuoso levels are reached only by being well-grounded in the fundamentals.

4. Mastery not vanity. Simple problems completely and clearly solved have greater educational value than advanced problems sloppily analyzed with forced final answers.

5. Adaptability. An educational program must be adaptive because no two learning situations are ever completely alike.

6. The tortoise, not the hare. Bisag hinay hinay basta kanunay.

PROCEDURE FOR FACILITATING A PARALLEL LEARNING ACTIVITY

1. Before a class period, the expert teacher gives to the facilitator the learning activity for the period, with instructions and relevant information such as the expected duration of work on the activity.

2. The facilitator starts a class period with school prescribed routine, then hands out activity sheets and blank sheets (for overflow answers and calculations)

3. All parts of the learning activity (title, learning target, references, concept notes, and exercises) are written on the board by the teacher or projected on a screen. Students copy these by hand.

4. The facilitator makes sure students work on the learning activity. Depending on instructions from the expert teacher, students may work individually or may discuss with classmates. However, all required tasks of a learning activity shall be written by every student on his individual activity sheet.

5. Students who finish the activity early may be allowed to study or work on activities in other subjects, provided that they do not disturb their classmates.

6. At the end of the class period, the facilitator collects all activity sheets, fully or partially accomplished. These are given to the expert teacher, with remarks on who much majority of students in the class were able to accomplish. Upon advice of the facilitator, the expert teacher may decide to give additional time for the activity during the next meeting of the class.

PROCEDURE FOR FACILITATING A LEARNING SESSION WITH LECTURE MODULES ON DVD/VIDEO

1. The same procedure for regular facilitating is done followed by distribution of activity sheets and copying of all parts of the learning activity.

2. The facilitator shall let students work on a given learning activities BEFORE they watch any lecture-demo on DVD.

3. After watching the lecture-demo, students shall be given time to work again on the learning activities. They may discuss with classmates but final writing on their activity sheets must be done individually.

4. At the end of the period, the facilitator turns over the accomplished activity sheets to the regular expert teacher.

RULES FOR STRATEGIC LEARNING OF SCIENCE AND MATH
1. One learning activity at a time. Learning by small chunks enhances absorption.

2. Every student shall copy by hand all parts of the given activity starting from title up to the exercises. Visual+psychomotor combination enhances memory retention.

3. Students work on the activity before the expert teacher lectures, explains, or discusses with the classes. Learning of new material initially without a guide enhances analytical thinking and focuses inquiry.

4. All solutions must be written step by step as neatly as possible, including numerical computations. Computing by hand enhances mental acuity and speed

5. No calculators will be allowed for use during activity time.

6. All units or dimensions must be retained in all parts of solutions of problems.
7. All learning activities shall be filed in the comprehensive student portfolio.

GUIDELINES FOR PREPARING THE PLAN OF ACTIVITIES

1. Ask yourself: What do you think are the MOST ESSENTIAL FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS of the subject area you are teaching.
2. If it seems impossible to cover all prescribed competencies in a given trimester, how COULD DIFFERENT SUBJECT TOPICS BE INTEGRATED OR COORDINATED?
3. What CONCEPTS AND SKILLS SHOULD BE MASTERED so a students can do well in the industry? What techniques in problem solving must be integrated in math?
4. What was actually accomplished by the students, with activity-based learning and with no homework.

GUIDELINES FOR PREPARING THE LAS

1. LAS is written for the students to read and work on independently.
2. Visualize the lecture/demo you plan to give for that day. You may follow the usual parts of a lesson plan. Then write down in detail since you cannot be there to give the lecture.
3. The activity title should encapsulate the main idea to be learned. There could be one or two learning targets. Make sure that these are phrased from the point of view of the student.
4. WE DO NOT RECOMMEND GROUPING STRATEGIES FOR GROUPS OF MORE THAN THREE STUDENTS, ESPECIALLY IN SCIENCE AND MATH.

DLP encourages a minimal interaction with the teacher because it promotes independent learning without neglecting academically challenged students. In fact, teachers will now have more time focusing on those who lag behind because those who are performing better can always scale up their learning pace.

During this pandemic, there is probably a way to look into modified DLP as an answer to technological challenges since face-to-face is not available and internet is slow. We don’t take ownership of the DLP concept. But our previous practices have spoken success at a certain level especially on reading comprehension and creativity. The most important thing is that students continue to learn and their safety is considered as important. Though teachers cannot be removed from the equation of the teaching and learning process, but DLP has definitely changed that by shifting their roles into facilitators of learning, from sage on the stage into guide on the side.