YMCA, the disco hit from the late 70s, has helped Guangyang Primary pupils get better spelling scores - in Chinese.
The song involves using the arms to form the letters in its title. Since last year, Primary 1 and 2 students have been learning Chinese in a similar way - by "acting out" the strokes of characters through different hand and body movements.
On Thursday, this Learning Chinese Characters Through Movement method was one of three projects to win gold for innovation at the PS21 Excel awards ceremony.
"For Primary 1 and 2 pupils, our teachers found that their main problem was word recognition," said Ms Lucy Sim, lead teacher for the Chinese Language department, who came up with the idea. "Since English letters in the YMCA song can be acted out, I thought, how about Chinese words?"
A nine-month pilot that started in July 2010 involving two classes saw the passing rate for Chinese spelling tests soar from 50 per cent to about 88 per cent. The project was rolled out to all Primary 1 and 2 classes last year.
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and national water agency PUB also got gold for the Ageing-in-Place programme and Kallang River @ Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park project respectively.
A total of 31 awards were given out to teams and individuals at on Thursday's ceremony, held every year to recognise innovation by public officers and agencies.
Head of civil service Peter Ong also launched Project Tomorrow, to gather ideas from public officers through crowd-sourcing. Under the project, a Post 'n' Poll mobile app will allow officers to give their suggestions on issues that matter to them, even those not related to their own agency. These ideas can be viewed on the government intranet for other officers to comment on, vote for and improve.
Mr Ong added that the public service will also organise hackathons to bring together officers for brainstorming sessions. This will take place from May next year.
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