The March KBAY Teacher of the Month is Lope Macasaet who received a grant to create a Chemistry Lab Data Center.
Grant allows students to use college level lab equipment.
Lope Macasaet received a Wells Fargo Teacher Innovation Classroom Grant from the Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) to purchase lab data collection equipment.
“The purpose of my SVEF grant was to support the implementation of a laboratory data collection center similar to what higher learning centers use. My plan was to expose students to state of the art analytical devices and technology to support the lessons that we study in Chemistry. The inclusion of this data collection center will enhance our Chemistry curriculum’s laboratory component by increasing the number of inquiry-based laboratory experiments in support of the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. A final purpose for establishing this center is to increase student interest in chemistry (and science in general) by allowing them to have access to these state of the art instruments to examine concepts that they learn in the classroom—instruments that would normally be found only in the college chemistry classroom or laboratory.”
“The project will have a great impact on the way I teach chemistry in our school since a typical classroom setting in Chemistry involves lectures on the concepts and theories. Laboratory experiments are what make Chemistry more interesting to a lot of students. Adding this element of including not only technology but analytical devices that are normally used by college chemistry students would further the students’ experience and more importantly excite them about what is in store for them in the field of science.”
Piedmont Hills High School, East Side Union High School District
“Piedmont Hills High School is one of the eleven high schools of the East Side Union High School District. It has about 2200 students composed of 59% Asians, 20% Hispanic, 13% White, 5% Blacks and the rest Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and Multi-Race students. The classes I teach this school year include two AP Chemistry classes and two regular Chemistry classes. The AP Chemistry classes are double periods (56 minutes x 2 periods) with about 35 students per class while the regular Chemistry classes are single periods with about 32 students per class.” AP Students who successfully pass the AP Chemistry exam can earn college credit while still in high school.
The ongoing classroom challenge
“The biggest challenge really is the same every year, which is to make all the students learn the topics that I teach. But the approach is different every school year because the students that I get every school year are different. There is really no perfect recipe that can be applied on a yearly basis because the students that I get are different. But my approach has been to make the subject relevant to them and input every now and then lessons that pertain to real life. This is really the ultimate challenge: making students learn. That is why I define a teacher not as someone who teaches students but someone who helps students learn.”
“I have been a teacher for most of my adult life. I have been with Piedmont for 10 years. Before this I have taught 6 years in high schools in the Philippines and about 5 years in elementary/middle school here in the U.S. I have two bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and computer engineering. I got both degrees from the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.
After my six years of teaching Chemistry in the Philippines, I worked in industry since the teaching profession in the Philippines does not really pay well. I worked as a technical support engineer with a subsidiary of Fujitsu Philippines. There, I was tasked to train newly-hired software engineers in computer programming (C, C++, Java). I also developed training programs for non-computer professionals who wanted to shift to a career in computer programming. I worked in industry for about 5 years until I came to the US, where my wife, Rebecca, was accepted as an exchange teacher with the East Side Union High School District. I tried to look for a job in the industry here during that time (year 2000) but tech industry jobs were at a decline. I got a job as an elementary/middle school computer teacher with Challenger School at their Sunnyvale campus. While there, I worked on my teaching credential with the National Hispanic University. That was the time where I worked from 8:00 in the morning to about 3:30 in the afternoon and had to drive to the university for my credential classes that ran from 5:30 pm to about 9:30 pm. Luckily, when I got my teaching credential in Chemistry, I was hired by East Side in 2005 and assigned to teacher here at Piedmont Hills High School where I have taught both Chemistry and Algebra.”
I really like teaching because of the students. I want them learn the subject and realize the value of the subject in real life. I do not really look at teaching as a job or as work. I look at it more as a vocation. And I feel that there is no amount of money that even comes close to seeing students learning chemistry or seeing them like the subject so much that they get inspired to pursue chemistry or any science-related course. I also like teaching because the interaction with students allows me to grow as a person. In getting exposed to different types of students, I get to learn to use different teaching styles and methods in teaching them. I also get to know them better as people and be a secondary parent to them.
Quote - “I define a teacher not as someone who teaches students but someone who helps students learn.”