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Effective science education occurs even in jam-packed rooms, as attested by the winners and finalists in the recently-concluded national search for the most innovative practices in teaching large and extra-large classes.

Using creative strategies such as "sizing interventions" and "flock management", two schools from Zamboanga and Laguna bested four other finalists from Metro Manila to earn the distinction of having the best and most inventive teaching strategies in their large science and mathematics classes. 

In the awarding ceremonies of the "Search for Innovative Practices in Managing Large Classes" held at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila, the Science Education Institute honored Bacong National High School from Salug, Zamboanga del Norte and Looc National High School from Calamba City, Laguna with P100,000 and a plaque of recognition for their winning entries. 

Launched early in 2011, the search aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning science and mathematics in public and private high schools with class sizes of more than 50 students by inspiring schools to apply innovative teaching mechanisms. The project defines large classes as having 51 to 70 students, while extra large class as having 71 and above. 

Bacong National High School was awarded for their project entitled Bacong Developmental Instruction which employs various teaching-learning activities using sizing interventions designed to test the effectiveness of the facilitative mode of teaching in a large class size. The practice allows the students to discover, and later on, master the high school Mathematics II concepts and hence improve student-performance in achievement tests. 

Likewise, Looc National High School boasted its strategy entitled Flock Program in Managing Large Class Size in Mathematics III which is based on the concept that the structure, management and monitoring of a class could be done by group or flock. The program consists of three innovative practices namely 1) Flock Seating Arrangement, 2) Flock Activities and Facilitation, and 3) Flock Monitoring. The combined effects of the practices make the management of large classes easier and more effective in improving achievement in high school Mathematics III. 

The two schools bested four other finalists in the likes of Andres Bonifacio Integrated School, Las Pinas East National High School, Navotas National High School and San Isidro National High School. 

DOST-SEI Director Dr. Filma G. Brawner congratulated the winners and the finalists for presenting innovative teaching strategies "that are worth noticing and adopting" by many schools given the noticeable sizing in terms of classroom population. 

"We recognize the fact that many of our schools, especially in Metro Manila, experience clogging in terms of number of students per classroom. While interventions are being done to solve this long-standing problem, this promotion of innovative strategies in teaching large classes is in a way introducing an alternative solution to the current problem," said Brawner. 

Meanwhile, DOST Undersecretary Fortunato T. De la Pena applauded the schools' innovativeness and said he is optimistic that the entries will be adopted by schools needing them. 

"While we believe that adopting innovative teaching strategies adds only a part of the solution in achieving the goal of improving science education, this project achieves, in a way, the purpose of instilling innovative thinking among our educators," said de la Pena. "We hope that through this project, innovative thinking will be in our back packs from now on." 

"I hope that through honoring the fruits of our educators' inventive minds, we have inspired others to keep on creating ways towards an effective and high-quality education system," de la Pena added. (30)