“Text2Teach videos make our work easier and more enjoyable. We can now visit homes of our learners to see their real conditions, which is a great factor in the learners’ achievement.” – Mark Natividad, Philippines

When the innovative Text2Teach program celebrated its 10-year anniversary recently, we told you about the program’s expansion into all 38,000 public schools across the Philippines. The program, part of the Global BridgeIT initiative, is supported by a public-private partnership and has served over 300,000 students in mostly disadvantaged schools to date. Those are impressive stats, but what does a program like this look like in an average classroom?

To answer that, we turned to Mark Francis B. Natividad, a 5th grade English teacher who has fully embraced the technology and is seeing quantifiable results. Natividad is a recipient of the Global BridgeIT Award of Excellence in Teaching, and feels strongly about the program’s benefits to his country.

“We are very thankful that more and more private companies are willing to support programs most especially to help the poor but deserving children in the country,” Natividad says. He’s seen exactly what that support can do for students – from encouraging attendance and engagement to raising test scores and 21st century skill competencies. “With this K-12 program, Filipinos are looking forward to a positive ripple to the economic status of the country,” he notes. “More skills will be highlighted that will arm and help many Filipinos to compete with the rest of the world.”

Benefits of the mobile technology aren’t limited to students, though. For Natividad, the creative videos and games enabled by Text2Teach mean less time creating audio-visual tools to aid classroom instruction. With the time savings, Natividad has been able to spend much more of his time working with students, even visiting their homes to better understand how conditions there impact learning. “Technology has brought a different dimension to the classroom environment,” he says, “for it awakens and caters to many senses of the learners — from visual to hearing to motor senses.”

While we know that holistic reform initiatives like Text2Teach are successful because they bring to bear the resources of multiple partners, seeing how these efforts are playing out day-to-day in communities that need them most proves beyond a doubt that they’re making a difference in the lives of students and the future health of their countries. And that’s very good news, indeed. Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Mark Natividad.

What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?

Before my elementary graduation, I already knew that I wanted to become a teacher. Most of my relatives are teachers in profession – my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and my sister. When my family members have gatherings, teaching has always been our talk at the table – discussions about lesson plan making and classroom management.

My teaching career was greatly influenced by my aunt who was a retired teacher and stood up as my mother after she died. I saw how dedicated my aunt was and how she touched my life and the lives of her students through her teaching. From then on, I knew teaching was something extraordinary. It sits apart from other professions. Teaching has a personal touch of human love. And for personal reasons, since I love talking and speaking my mind, I thought teaching would be the perfect career path for me.

Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?

My favorite teacher was Mrs. Helen Epson. She was my former Social Studies instructor during my high school life. She integrated many teaching strategies in our class, like having a theater show and gallery walk.

Apart from being very good at teaching, she also had a good heart. She was a mother-figure to everyone — especially to her students. She was a disciplinarian but she never shouted nor screamed in class when she was angry. She spoke softly and her messages were full of inspiring thoughts.

Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education.  What has changed as a result of your work?

My achievements as a teacher, like being recognized as the Pearson Foundation’s BridgeIT Teacher Awardee in the Philippines, gave me the courage to become the best teacher to my students. I became motivated to develop teaching strategies effectively. Teaching with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) integration may seem a great challenge for teachers, but I believe that we need to go along with it because the 21st century students are more adept at using technology. And with the help of Text2Teach technology that I regularly use as a mobile learning tool inside my class, it made a strong impact on my students. My students are always motivated to go to school every day.

How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

I am regularly using Text2Teach in my class. Text2Teach is a mobile learning intervention for public elementary students in the Philippines. It uses a the Lumia 630 Windows phone with software that can house a number of educational videos for 5th and 6th grade students, based on the hard-to-teach and least-learned competencies determined by the Department of Education. This program is a public-private partnership that is comprised of the Department of Education, Ayala Foundation, Microsoft, Globe Telecom, Pearson Foundation, Toshiba, and local government.

Text2Teach is my first ever ICT-mobile based teaching tool. Back then, we were just using DVDs, books and magazines to supplement our lessons. With Text2Teach, the children became more interested to learn and discover concepts/ideas from the Text2Teach educational videos.

In addition, my students and I use the video to create innovative games inside the class. We have this “sound off” game were in children make sounds every time they hear a noun or an adjective being mentioned or viewed in the screen. During special programs such as journalism class, we also use overhead projectors to present informative clips about a certain topic.

In your opinion, how has the use of apps, cellphones, and mobile devices changed education? And your work?

ICT in education should play an important role in delivering substantial information right before the very eyes of the learners. Highlighting the fact that learners nowadays are technologically inclined and impatient enough to wait for fresher ideas and information. I’ve seen how my students meet the needs of the world in terms of global competitiveness through making themselves more advanced so they won’t be left behind.

The use of technology in class is a breath of fresh air for the teachers. Text2Teach technology eases the work of the teacher by making the lessons easily understood by the students. It also gives us more contact time with our students, unlike before when we needed to spend most of our time making visual aids. Now, we have maximized our time in dealing with our students’ concerns because of the reduced time spent preparing instructional materials. Text2Teach videos make our work easier and more enjoyable. We can now visit homes of our learners to see their real conditions, which is a great factor in the learners’ achievement.

In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?

The only concrete innovation that I can see in education is the strengthening of ICT and other computer-related programs integrated in classroom. The coming of Text2Teach is a great help for everyone — the children are excited to come to school to learn something new.

Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
I am quite happy with what the Text2Teach program has brought to the innovation and upgrading of skills in the classroom. Moreover, I’m still more excited to see projects from the government that strengthen individualized instruction in the classroom through a 1:1 ratio of learner and technology. And since I am fascinated with art, I hope someday Text2Teach technology will reach the art classes in public schools in order to upgrade abilities of young children in art.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

Despite the breakthrough of technology in education nowadays, I would still want that every child should own even ONE great, make-you-feel-good BOOK. Every child must have a book of their own to read. Reading a book is still one of the great tools towards better learning. One must remember that one good story from a book can impact their lives. Education should also instill in children that reading skills will always be their greatest tool in understanding the world despite diversities of one’s culture, religion and even opinions.

How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?

The implementation of many programs should be evaluated to identify how effective they are in the classroom environment. Acquiring more projects that are ICT-based will ensure that Filipino students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century.

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

The economic status of students has become one of the biggest obstacles in receiving quality education. Many can’t come to school for they have no enough money to provide basic needs. But somehow the government is trying their best to support them. More classrooms and substantial books should also be given. Moreover, teachers are finding means and ways to cope such necessities. 

How can teachers or school leaders facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

Teachers and other school leaders should start from where they are, they should diagnose and identify what the school really needs. They should put heart into their work and never forget to create community linkages that could help lift up the school’s mobility, aiming towards a better education. 

How have you incorporated mobile devices/apps into your classroom and have you seen any improvements?

Incorporating Text2Teach in my teaching strategies, I have seen that the students are more engaged in my lessons. Also, my post-evaluation activities have good results. The retention of the concepts are improved. By using this technology, it is easier for me to teach my lessons to my students. Absences were also minimized, interest in learning was improved and motivation to go to school has been highlighted.

With Text2Teach, every time I conduct examinations in class, the mean percentage scores of my students increases from 43-62% to 75-86%. I actually had more time to do extra-curricular activity related to school affairs such as home visitation, tutoring and coaching children in journalism because I had less time in preparing visual aid materials with the aid of Text2Teach videos.

About Mark Francis B. Natividad, Classroom Teacher, Sibalom Central Elementary

  • Antique, Philippines
  • Birthplace: Municipality of Sibalom, Province of Antique, Philippines
  • Current residence: Tordesillas Street, Sibalom, Antique, Philippines 5713
  • Education: Graduated Bachelor of Elementary Education, University of Antique
  • Website I check every day: www.yahoo.com
  • Person who inspires me most: My aunt who stands as my mother and a former teacher.
  • Favorite childhood memory: It was during the time when I first saw an airplane, and told myself, “Yes! I can build dreams and make it fly.”
  • Next travel destination (work or pleasure): I am planning to go to Coron, Palawan. I heard that they have wonderful beaches and rock formations at Coron.
  • When was the last time you laughed? Why? I always laugh, especially when I am with my students.
  • Favorite book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Favorite music: The Leader of the Band (I just remember my father who died before I met him).
  • What is the best advice you have ever received?  “Believe in yourself.”
  • Your favorite quote or motto: “Life is too short, don’t make it shorter.”
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