PE Everyday at Beacon Primary School
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
"What day is Thursday?" "Team building day!" chime two classes of Pri 1 pupils in unison.
What they mean is: once a week, these Pri 1 pupils from Beacon Primary School put on their PE attire and get ready for a Team Building PE lesson, which focuses more on problem-solving skills and teamwork rather than physical technique. That's only one day's focus, out of the full week's PE sessions which keep pupils active for at least 30 minutes everyday.
This is part of the school's Wellness Channel, a programme that encompasses a character development and holistic health programme. With daily PE sessions, all pupils at the school have 2½ hours of PE curriculum time every week. Other schools will also see an increase in their PE curriculum time*, which will be implemented in phases.
"It's fun to have PE everyday," says Pri 3 pupil Ernie Herlynni, who is part of the pioneering cohort in the school. "We like playing games with rules because it's more challenging - not like when we were in kindergarten, where we just played for fun."
Character development through team building games
Beacon Primary School was founded in 2007 as a FutureSchool, where schools implement innovative education programmes that leverage on IT across all levels and subjects. Because of the high presence and use of ICT in the school, the PE teachers mooted the idea of having weekly team building games to strike a balance with other academic activities, as well as to impart broader learning skills.
During Thursday's team building games, the task or challenge is demonstrated to the pupils. After the pupils give it a try, their PE teacher carries out a short debrief, posing questions such as "What problems did you face?" and "Why did that group finish first?" - all with the aim of encouraging self-reflection and solving problems as a team.
In this way, answers are drawn from the pupils on how they can improve their technique the next time around. With each round, the pupils are able to fine tune their strategy and relate to each other better. As Pri 3 pupil Alan Anand Selvin shares about their most recent team building activity, "We learned a group dance called kinderpolka. It was confusing at first, but got easier once we learned the song."
The debriefing is what makes or breaks the team building games. "The style of debriefing varies between the Pri 1s and 3s. With Pri 1 pupils, we use simpler language. We foresee that when they get to upper primary, they will be able to do group debriefs independently, with some facilitation from us," says Mr Nasrun Mizzy, who heads the school's PE and CCA department.
PE - a great teaching tool
PE can also be used in other ways for character-building exercises or teach other school subjects. For example, the school uses PE to teach Health Education and Civics and Moral Education. A classic tag game can reinforce a Health Education lesson on why bathing is important to keep germs at bay. The "catcher" represents the germs, and the goal is to escape the germs and prevent its "multiplication". "We want the pupils to see that Health Education and physical exercise are not separate topics," Mr Nasrun explains.
Another example is traffic safety, which can be taught using a game where pupils are assigned to be pedestrians or drivers. Apparatus such as ride-on cars are used, and bridges are constructed to simulate real-life obstacles.
As Beacon Primary School is only in its third year since inception, its resources are not fully stretched. Once the school has all six primary school levels in operation, daily PE lessons might pose a challenge in resource allocation and scheduling. "At the moment, we're considering scheduling a mass PE lesson per level per week, like mass aerobics, to address this problem," says Mr Nasrun.
With such elaborate PE games, what do pupils think of traditional PE lessons? Pri 3 pupil Desiree Foo offers reassuringly, "'Normal' PE is still fun!"
* Increase in PE Curriculum Time
|Level||PE Curriculum Time|
|Pri 1 – Pri 2||1.5 hr → 2 hrs
(in addition to 2 hours of PAL)
|Pri 2 – Pri 6||1.5 hr → 2.5 hrs|
|Sec 1 – Sec 4||1 hr → 2hrs|