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Day 12: The Commission on Climate Change & a Bit of Professional Development

The morning started, as always, with the sun rising from beyond the majestic Mayon Volcano. This was the view directly out my hotel window this morning:

Angelo's guiding questions for this experience surround environmental education in the Philippines, so Kristina had arranged for us to visit the Office of the President of the Philippines' Commission on Climate Change. The office was in Legazpi, which took more than an hour to get to in morning rush hour traffic. We travelled with Adrian, a teacher at Bicol Regional Science High School, as Kristina needed to leave us for a mandatory teacher training relating to the K-12 rollout.

Before heading to the climate change office, we had time for a brief visit to Oro Site High School a school serving more than 2000 students from in and around Legazpi. The vibrantly painted school is set across from a drainage/sewer ditch, with a small footbridge as the only way of access that we saw.

To handle 2000+ students in a limited space, students attend in two shifts, depending on what grade they are in. The morning shift is from 6:00 AM to noon, the afternoon shift from noon to 6:00 PM. Here you can see the schedules for two different classes mounted on the door of the classroom they share:

Students were happy to see us, but sadly we were on a very tight schedule and really couldn't interact with any of the classes, other than one obligatory whole-class photo:

When we arrived at the climate change office we met with Senior Coordinator Manuel "Nong" C. Rangasa. He showed us materials from the soon-to-be-implemented K-11 curriculum on climate change and disaster preparedness. These materials, which are being rolled-out throughout the country as curriculum in the Philippines is unified nationally, integrate climate change content into *every* subject. For example, in English class, an exercise about colloquialisms/turns of phrase uses climate change as the context for the sample sentences. This is still in draft form, you'll see that there are some grammatical errors/awkward phrasings that will be ironed out.

This means that every student in the Philippines will touch on climate change in every subject in every grade. Education officials, policymakers, and other stakeholders are hoping to educate the entire country about climate change vis this program; the hope is that students will go home and spread the knowledge to their parents (similar to how recycling became widespread in the United States.) It was embarrassing to hear about how forward thinking and on-the-ball this country is, while the United States is regressing in this area under the current administration.

We were treated to a delicious lunch by ILEP alums Agnes and Cheryl. I ate dinuguan, which is pork cooked in pigs' blood. It tasted iron-y and chocolate-y. For desert, I had ube-flavored shaved ice topped with a scoop of ice cream and shredded cheese, and served with corn kernels mixed throughout. Quite tasty and very different from anything I've ever eaten before.

We returned to Bicol Regional Science High School just in time for the professional development seminars we'd be delivering to the BRSHS faculty. I presented on some of my favorite EdTech tools, including YouTube and video-driven problem solving, Desmos, Remind, cellphone cameras, and Adobe Spark. I also presented on inquiry-based science instruction, the flipped classroom, and modeling in Physics. After our presentations, a master teacher at BRSHS gave a demo lesson to her colleagues and us. It demonstrated how environmental themes could be integrated into an English lesson, just like what we had talked about earlier at the office of the commission on climate change.

We finished out the day with a Q&A session with BRSHS faculty, followed by an interview with the staff of the Filipino language student newspaper, and then, finally, with an interview with the staff of the English language student newspaper. They asked similar questions, and there was a considerable overlap of staff on each paper.

It was one of the longest and most tiring days I've had since I arrived int he Philippines. As we finally left the school late in the day, we were bid adieu by some students on a balcony...

...and by the Mayon Volcano, always looming large over the region. I took this photo with my telephoto lens as we walked back to the hotel:

Some bonus photos!

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