Innovations are not only found in research and development centres, but also more common places like our schools. This was clearly shown at the MOE ExCEL Fest 2014, held on 11 and 12 April at Suntec City. An annual event, the MOE ExCEL Fest this year celebrated the many ideas and innovations in schools that contribute to a better teaching and learning environment for students.
Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said in his MOE ExCEL Fest 2014 opening speech, “Innovation is for our children’s sake; all our work in MOE is judged by how it brings out the best in children.” Indeed, the more than 170 teaching innovations from 130 schools showcased at ExCEL Fest presented a whole range of ideas and collaborations that share the aim of improving teaching and learning of students. Add to this, visitors to the MOE ExCEL Fest over the two days were in for a treat with 70 sharing sessions, 35 seminars, 65 exhibitions and a variety of learning trails.
In Guangyang Primary School, its innovative Chinese Language lessons usually make its students work up a sweat! But it is not because the students find it a tough subject to learn. Rather, the school uses aerobic moves to represent the strokes that form Chinese characters. The school had noticed that many of its students come from English-speaking families, and had difficulty learning and remembering Chinese characters. This prompted lead teacher, Ms Lucy Sim, to come up with the idea of using body movements to represent the strokes in forming Chinese characters.
For example, a dot in a Chinese character would be represented by executing a punch in the air, whereas a vertical stroke would be represented by simply raising one’s arm straight up. Through such kinetic activities, it is not a surprise to find the lower primary students having a fun time during their Chinese Language lessons.
Over at one of the exhibition booths at the MOE ExCEL Fest, Naval Base Primary School showcased its signature ‘Navalite Heartbeat’ programme, where the school collaborates with the community to promote a healthy lifestyle and to raise funds for students in need. While the school and its community stakeholders engage in physical exercises on their ACES (All Children Exercise Simultaneously) Day, the school also promotes values like Respect, Learning, Compassion, Self-discipline and Integrity. In raising funds for students on financial assistance and those with special needs, the school also holds its ‘Have a Heart for Art’ programme, which sees its students creating art pieces to be sold to parents.
Besides innovative teaching practices, there were also excellent ideas to improve the school environment to make teaching and learning more conducive for everyone. At Hougang Primary School, the teachers and students created a vertical green wall as a way to cool its environment. In addition to bringing relief and comfort in lowering their classroom temperature , the students also get to learn about how plants can help to reduce ambient temperature and also how vertical gardens come in useful in land-scarce Singapore.
As for Si Ling Secondary School, the school staff came up with a programme based on its students’ interests to help those who were at-risk. Seeing how some of its students from disadvantaged backgrounds would play truant or were not engaged in class, the school worked on an interests-based programme to keep these students in school after hours as a way to engage them constructively. For example, some of these students were interested in music and the school included a “Battle of the Bands” in its interests-based programme. The teachers soon saw an improvement in school attendance for these at-risk students and were also encouraged to see fewer or none of them dropping out of school after the programme was introduced.
Visit the MOE ExCEL Fest website to find out more about these and other innovative approaches to teaching and learning.
This year, the MOE ExCEL Fest also played host to the inaugural Parent Support Groups (PSG) Conference. You can read about the Conference here.