Teachers honoured for innovative approaches to teaching
Instead of writing or typing out their answers, Mr Oh Chee Kiat's students "answer" him with Lego bricks.
This helps students more hands-on to express themselves better.
Mr Oh, who is a senior lecturer-mentor in cyber and network security at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East said: "It's easier for them to tell a story using these bricks.
"It can be quite challenging for some when you ask them to write the answers down, but with these bricks, they just let their hands do the talking."
Yesterday, Mr Oh and six other educators - selected from a pool of 17 finalists - received the prestigious President's Award for Teachers from President Halimah Yacob at a virtual award ceremony, which was also attended by Education Minister Lawrence Wong.
The annual awards are given to educators who have excelled in their commitment to developing their students' potential and in adopting innovative approaches in their lessons.
Apart from using Lego Serious Play sets, Mr Oh also uses games such as Minecraft Education Edition to help students understand concepts, for example, in cyber security.
He had this idea after he saw how it was used in overseas community colleges during a business trip to San Francisco.
In 2017, it was launched formally after a six-month pilot phase, which found that students who took on this approach of learning saw a jump in their overall performance.
Mr Oh said the students also showed more confidence in their work.
He said: "Our education will require transformation. We have to give them space to imagine.
"I thought it was time for me to bring in some of these innovative ideas into our education system."
This sentiment is also held by another award recipient, Madam Shanthi Deenathayalan, the head of department for English at Guangyang Primary School.
When she was in Secondary 3, her geography teacher took them to Australia, where they could put the theory they learnt in class into practice.
She said: "I could see all these physical landscapes in reality. Everything that he taught he made connections, and he made us love the subject. It was an eye-opener for me."
Since then, this belief that learning should not be confined to the classroom took root in Madam Shanthi.
To cultivate her students' interest in writing, she gets them to write to overseas students, such as those in New Zealand.
She said: "The students get very excited because other people are reading. They're not just writing to the teacher. That's where the motivation level increases and they take charge of their learning."
This programme, which starts in Primary 4, will culminate in an exchange programme for some pupils in Primary Five, where they get to learn about the host country's values and culture.
Madam Shanthi, who teachers Primary 5 and 6 pupils, also makes it a point to introduce different teaching styles into her lessons, which has since been adopted by other teachers at the school.
She said: "I believe every child matters and as a teacher, we have to be the best educator so that we can cater to every child. So I try to think out of the box to make learning fun."