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Singapore: Creating a conducive learning environment
AuthorLeow Si …    文章CopyFromhttp://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_732403.html    Hits3372    UpdateTime2011-11-10    

 

Dance instructor Edwin Koh leading Primary 3 pupils from Junyuan Primary School during a lesson. The school has a programme in which all Primary 1 and 2 pupils take part in weekly lessons in an area such as dance. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

 

 

Primary school pupils are learning critical thinking, practising aerobics moves based on Chinese characters and even taking part in activities designed to instil in them author Stephen Covey's seven habits of highly effective people.

And these are not lessons conducted in brand-name primary schools. Rather, such programmes are now found in neighbourhood ones.

Woodlands Primary, for instance, teaches its Primary 3 and 4 pupils how to question and challenge assumptions.

Background story

CUSTOMISED PROGRAMMES

School: Junyuan Primary School

Location: Tampines

PSLE results: Last year, slightly over half of its pupils qualified for the Express stream in secondary schools.

Niche programmes:

  • All pupils from Primary 1 to 3 go through weekly structured lessons in sports and arts. These lessons are in areas such as dance, swimming and badminton. Talent identification can also take place.

  • The school has a mentoring programme for pupils who lack home support. Temasek Polytechnic students meet these children weekly and act as role models, guiding them in school work and imparting good values.

  • Principal Law Li Mei said: 'We customise our programmes to fit the different needs of the children. For those with high ability, we do pull them out for lessons where they are taught higher-order logic and questioning techniques.'


TEACHERS WHO CARE

School: Horizon Primary School

Location: Punggol

PSLE results: A new school set up last year. It now has 400 pupils from Primary 1 to 4.

Niche programmes:

  • Philosophy is incorporated into English lessons for all Primary 2 pupils. They are taught questioning techniques and are encouraged to think critically and debate.

  • Pupils take part in structured lessons on the environment, where they listen to talks, visit parks and take part in recycling efforts.

  • Each week, story-telling, role-playing and games are used to instill in pupils Stephen Covey's seven habits of highly effective people.

  • Principal Ang Chin Du said: 'From the feedback of parents so far, I think one distinguishing feature of the school is its very caring teachers, who create a joyful learning environment... There are more than 30 parents now on the waiting list for transfers to the school.'


EVERY PUPIL IS UNIQUE

School: Woodlands Primary School

Location: Woodlands

PSLE results: As of last year, some 65 per cent of its pupils made it to the Express stream in secondary schools. The school has achieved quality passes (A and A* grades) in English, mathematics and science.

Niche programmes:

  • Structured weekly lessons for all Primary 3 and 4 pupils, where they are taught questioning techniques and inquiry skills.

  • A whole-school approach towards promoting good health, including talks to highlight good nutrition and workshops to develop social skills and mental health.

  • A six-year choral programme where pupils pick up basic singing skills, learn how to dance and play the ukulele.

  • Principal Kit Gek Wah said: 'We recognise every pupil is unique and it is the school's duty and responsibility to develop each pupil to his or her fullest potential.'


IDENTIFYING WEAK AREAS

School: Guangyang Primary School

Location: Currently in Ang Mo Kio but will be relocated to Bishan next year.

PSLE results: Some 73 per cent of its pupils made it to the Express stream last year.

Niche programmes:

  • A six-year music programme where every child learns how to play a range of musical instruments, and to compose simple songs on the computer.

  • A science programme targeted at high ability pupils from Primary 3 to 5. Pupils select topics of interest and carry out research, with help from teachers.

  • Principal Susan Wu said: 'We had a meeting to identify areas of weakness. One example of an improvement is in our worksheets. We made them more focused so that pupils can work on one area at a time. We also developed differentiated instructions for children of different ability.'

School principal Kit Gek Wah said: 'One lesson involves the children discussing the concept of heroes. They devise criteria on what makes a hero. Thereafter, the teacher flashes pictures of various characters. Using inquiry techniques, pupils debate on whether these characters are true heroes.'

 

 

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