Getting High on English Literacy
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
A crescendo of lively squeals and noisy cheers fills the air as over a hundred pupils take their turn at five game stalls set up in a school sports hall that has been transformed into a carnival of colours.
At one stall, a pupil is visibly excited as he attempts to beat the clock by reading all the words on a given list within a short 30 seconds. Across the hall, another pupil has her brows in knots as she tries to figure out what letters represent the sound of a word being read to her by another schoolmate.
An English language boost for weaker pupils
Welcome to Learning Support Carnival hosted by Greendale Primary School. Held on 26 May, this Carnival was a collaborative effort by Learning Support Coordinators (LSCs) from five primary schools in the N4 Cluster - Fernvale Primary School, Greendale Primary, Maris Stella High (Primary), Montfort Junior School and Mee Toh School. The Carnival was organised for about 120 Pri 1 and Pri 2 pupils under the Learning Support Programme (LSP).
The LSP is a specialised early intervention programme to help pupils who enter Pri 1 with weak oral language and beginning literacy skills in English. Since 1998, the LSP has been implemented in all primary schools, and an enhanced LSP was rolled out in January 2007.
A screening test conducted for Pri 1 pupils at the beginning of the school term serves to identify individuals who need extra support in English language and literacy. The LSP is carried out by experienced teachers who receive training as LSCs to give special daily support to the pupils. In the LSP, pupils are taught in smaller groups, through multi-sensory teaching methods to meet their different learning needs.
A Carnival for both children and coordinators
Teacher Ms Joyce Ng, a LSC mentor from Greendale Primary, is the chairperson of the Carnival's organisation committee, who started preparing for the event last December.
"It's an opportunity for the LSP pupils to practise their language and literacy skills acquired through the programme," said Ms Ng of the Carnival's objectives, "as well as to experience success and raise their self-esteem through the many fun activities."
Organising the Carnival also provided a platform for professional exchanges between the LSCs and increased their mutual competencies and confidence, highlighted Ms Ng. Parent volunteers were also involved, which a pleased Ms Ng said helped to raise "parental awareness of the support rendered by schools to pupils with weak language and literacy skills and promote school-parent collaboration".
Games at a learning fiestaFor this year's Carnival, every school came up with a game that gave pupils an opportunity to demonstrate either their reading or spelling skills.
Mee Toh School designed 'Get High on Words', a game that puts pupils' reading ability to the test as they rattle off certain words that appear with high frequency on a given list within 30 seconds. Taking this idea further, Montfort Junior School asked pupils to read as many phrases as they can in a 'One Minute Dash'.
'Sounds Right' by Maris Stella High tested the pupils' phonological awareness by getting them write down the letters that represent the sound of the words that are read to them.
Meanwhile, the host school developed a challenge in reading and comprehension with 'Rainbow Dip'. Here, pupils would dip their hand into a box to select a passage which they would read. The reader would then be asked a question about the text.
Lastly, a game of 'Rolling Bee' by Fernvale Primary let pupils demonstrate their spelling ability. Pupils would throw dice and then be asked to spell words from a list that matches the number on the dice.
Regardless of how each pupil fared at every game stall they visited, all walked away with a token or a prize and the pupils were really happy and encouraged.
The grand finale of the Carnival was a Spelling Bee competition. Pri 2 pupils from the five schools pitted their skills against one another. The Montfort team walked away as the champions while Mee Toh School and Greendale Primary took second and third place respectively.
As the Carnival came to an end, all the pupils left on a high note after a few hours of fun and learning.
A delighted Helaine Wu, a Pri 1 pupil from Mee Toh School exclaimed, "I enjoyed all the games because they are all very fun!"
Pri 1 pupil, Delwyn Teo, from Fernvale Primary, shares her enthusiasm. "I enjoyed myself very much and I hope to go for the carnival again next year!"