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From Palo to the World
By: by: Ernani Fernandez

My name is ERNANI FERNANDEZ, a high school TLE teacher from Palo, Leyte, Philippines.
I am also a Yolanda Survivor.
When Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the country on Nov.8, 2013, little would I know that this phenomenon, which I thought at first, has brought misery to my family, would be the same phenomenon that will also bring me to new and higher heights in my life as a teacher.

Let me essay to you this story of hope…of triumph…of destiny.

My story starts with being selected as one of the trainees of the Global Filipino Teachers Program of Globe Telecom. It was in 2010 that I underwent a 5-day training program on ICT Integration using PBL Approaches conducted by the Coalition for Better Education, the implementing partner of Globe in the GFT Program.

As a Global Filipino Teacher, it became part of my responsibilities and advocacy to ensure quality education through technology integration in teaching. Hence, in my Business Technology class, I designed a Project Based Learning (PBL) that motivated my students to learn and acquire business and accounting skills through technology integration that developed students’ 21st century skills. Since then, I started to use and design PBL and modify the project every year to one that best fits the needs of my students.

CBE encouraged all GFTs in the country to join the Innovative Teachers Leadership Award of Microsoft Partners in Learning, and I was one of the lucky teachers who was awarded as one of the Innovative Teachers in 2012. It was also on this year that Globe Telecom through the GFT Program made a giant stride to enhance capabilities of teachers to become Peer Coaches. Only 30 participants were admitted to the program and luckily I was one of the 30 teachers. The training honed my skills on coaching and mentoring. As a GFT/CBE Peer Coach, I am now able to share my learnings, experiences and skills to my colleagues with and in the use of technology.

In my 12 years of teaching in Palo National High School, Leyte, I already attended several trainings on the use of technology as an innovative strategy in teaching. I even conducted ICT trainings for teachers to help them improve the education of the students that pertains to 21st century skills development.

In my 12 years of teaching in Palo National High School, in Palo, Leyte, I attended several trainings on the use of technology as an innovative strategy in teaching. I even conducted ICT trainings for teachers to help them align their classroom strategies with 21st Century Learning.

With all of my experiences, knowledge and skills acquired, and with training that I got from GFT and CBE, I was encouraged to join the Microsoft Expert Educators program in September 2013. The program is an exclusive one year program for educators across the world who use technology to transform education.

I submitted my application and my PBL entitled, “What Makes Accounting Exciting?” as my learning activity. This project exemplified 21st century teaching and learning practices. My entry qualified me to become one of the participants of the 2014 Microsoft in Education Global Forum which was held last March 11-14, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. It was attended by more than 1,100 top education leaders, school leaders, educators, press, government officials, partners and sponsors from more than 80 countries.

Expert Educators who attended the global forum were selected based on a rigorous application process. Out of 22,500 plus applicants (approximately), there were only 250 educators who qualified as Microsoft Expert Educators. The 250 educators attended series of Webinars from November 2013 to February 2014 as preparation for the March Global Forum in Barcelona.

This Global Forum was the most unforgettable moment in my life, as my acceptance to participate in the forum fell on the date when Typhoon Yolanda hit the country. I learned about my acceptance only on November 11 after we were airlifted to Manila from Tacloban. When I read the congratulatory remarks, I didn’t really know how to react and I ignored what I saw in the announcement. I only thought of one thing at that time: “God let my family live and that is enough blessing for me”.

3 days after, I realized the effort of my students who were involved in the project which I submitted to PILN. I smiled and became proud of the wonderful achievement. Amidst the horrors of surviving a devastating typhoon, I found solace in the fact that my innovation in teaching is proven to be globally competitive.

Finally, Barcelona! No words can describe my experience in this wonderful city, it was really great! I met the other expert educators in the world. We shared and exchanged ideas on innovative strategies in teaching; I attended informative hot topics discussion; I received the Surface RT and exhibited my PBL Activity.

We were given 3 minutes to present the digital story of our learning activity and 15 minutes for follow up questions for clarity. I was so happy, my first judge was from the United States and he really like my project. He did not ask much on my project because he told me that he reviewed my project already and found it good.

On the 2nd day of the exhibit, I met my 2nd judge from China and instead of only 15 minutes we talked about my project for more than 30 minutes. He really like my project “What Makes Accounting Exciting?” because of the innovation I made in teaching accounting. He even asked for the copy of all my files.

The following are the accounting activities:

  1. Computerize Process of Accounting Using MS Excel. MS Excel replaced the traditional manual accounting process and the preparation of the financial statements were done through link of formulas.
  2. Accounting Comics. Students designed informative and original comics as reading materials in business technology. The characters in the comics are the students. They took photos of the actual scenes in the lesson and converted the images to cartoons and placed dialogue for conversation. They used PowerPoint, Paint, Word and available Internet sites.
  3. Accounting Module. Students developed a self-instructional material that aided other students for advance learning of the accounting lesson. The module consisted of 3 lessons; basic terminologies, analyzing transactions and accounting equations. They used Publisher, Accounting books, and Internet to finish the module.
  4. Selling Activity. This is the application of all the knowledge and skills acquired by the students in business technology lesson. The students conducted market observation and interviewed local entrepreneurs on managing business. A group of students put up a small business in school as real world application for best learning and experiences.

In this project, my students didn’t notice that they are still working with accounting because their apprehensions turned into excitement. They acquired multiple skills, the skill in business and accounting, ICT skills and the 21st century skills.

In the afternoon of Day2, before the end of the exhibit, I was surprised when one of the judges went to my exhibit area and introduced herself as a spot judge. This means that my project qualified to the top listed projects and she wants me to discuss more on knowledge building. I believed that I’ve done my best in my presentation.

Although, I did not win in the individual category, still I am very thankful to know that my project was on the top list! And for me that is already an achievement!

On the 3rd day of the forum, I met my team members for the learn-a-thon category. This is a team category, and educators were group randomly and were assigned themes to develop into learning activities. I belonged to Team44 and team members were from Austria, Egypt and Japan. Our chosen theme was: Poverty of the UN-MDG. It is really hard to work with them at first, because of cultural differences. However, collaboration, persistence and the belief on 21st Century Skills made us Overall Top Winners. I was glad to hold the Philippine banner high during the awarding night.

Now I am back to my school in Palo. I still see remnants of the disaster around me. However, hope is not lost at all. I look forward to moving on, not only as a Global Filipino Teacher but also as an individual who takes pride in rising amidst catastrophes. Seeing hope when hope was almost gone, believing when others dare not believe.

This is my story. I am Ernani Fernandez, Jr. I am a CBE Peer Coach, an ITLA. I am a GFT.

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Page Last Updated: April 16, 2014

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