At Spectra Secondary School, the second specialised school for students in the Normal (Technical) course, new and innovative learning approaches will be piloted to cater to students' learning styles.
From 2014, Spectra Secondary School will open its doors to some 200 students. It will be the second specialised school, following Crest Secondary School, for students eligible for the Normal (Technical) course. Both schools will explore innovative teaching approaches to help their students learn.
"I think these specialised schools will pilot new and interesting ways for students to learn," said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who visited the school on 12 November 2013, during the Spectra School Experience for primary six students, "and where it may be applicable, we will scale it across the system."
To create an authentic experience that caters to the learning styles of students, the school will offer a unique curriculum that integrates both academic and vocational learning.
Catering to Students' Learning Styles
Building students' foundation in literacy and numeracy will be a focus, especially at the lower secondary level. In this, student-centric approaches will be key to helping students level up.
For example, the school plans to use the "flipped classroom" approach to teach Mathematics. For two to three weeks, students will first learn the concepts by tuning in to videos posted online. This allows students to learn at their own time and pace, and review the content when required.
During class time and in class sizes of 20, students would be engaged in Team Based Learning (TBL), where they work together in small groups to complete questions, putting their knowledge into practice. Group work also encourages students to be self-directed in their learning. Teachers would also get to spend more time interacting with the students, and address any learning gaps promptly.
During the Spectra School Experience, primary six students from neighbouring schools visited the new school to try out the "flipped classroom" approach that encourages self-directed learning.
Periodically, online quizzes will be conducted to gauge students' proficiency and help the teacher to customise learning according to their needs. Those who may be stronger would be paired with students who are weaker, to encourage peer-learning, while those who are struggling would receive more individual attention from the teacher.
In addition to the teachers, who will focus on the curriculum, one of the school's partners, Temasek Cares, will also be providing funds to engage literacy and numeracy coaches. Students who need levelling up and those with special education needs will be supported by these coaches through small pull-out groups or one-to-one sessions, depending on their needs.
Though it may be a specialised school, students will still have the flexibility to move between the multiple pathways available.
"For students who display capability in a particular subject, we are exploring opportunities to teach them at a higher level," said Mr Krishnan Aravinthan, Principal of Spectra Secondary School, who explained that they are planning to take the approach of of subject based banding.
If a student needs to switch to an entirely different stream of study, arrangements will be made for them to transfer to a mainstream school.
"We do understand that some students are late bloomers," said Mr Krishnan.
Providing Authentic Learning Environments
Analytical data from online tests will provide prompt information on students' performance, and help teachers provide the necessary support to them.
Aside from taking the English Language, Mother Tongue Language and Mathematics, students will specialise in one of four ITE Skills Certificate (ISC) courses at the upper secondary level. They can choose from Hospitality Services, Retail Services, Facility Services and Mechanical Servicing.
The school has garnered the support of close to 30 partners to create authentic learning environments for students. For example, Home-Fix and NTUC Fairprice have set up retail training rooms within the school, and will also be providing industry attachment places for students. A housekeeping training room was also set up by the Park Hotel Group.
With the right set-up, students will be able to see the relevance of what they learn. Class sizes will also be kept to 20 students, so as to cater to their learning styles.
"When our students focus on their area of interest, which they are passionate about, we'll see that a lot of learning will take place," said Minister Heng.
To view the school and speak to teachers, visit Spectra Secondary School during their Open House on 23 and 24 November 2013 at 1 Woodlands Drive 64. Alternatively, visit their website to find out more about Spectra Secondary School!