Our middle school Classroom Without Walls program extends student learning beyond experiences they can gain at school through trips to Malaysia, Indonesia, and islands off Singapore.
Trust, risk-taking, goal-setting, resiliency, and cooperation are just a few of the traits that this signature SAS program aims to instill in students, who also further develop their own environmental awareness and cultural competence through participating in activities specific to each trip.
Check out a few reflections from our freshly returned students in 2016!
Avery S., sixth grade
The theme for sixth grade Classroom Without Walls was “I Connect”, and I connected with my environment, my community, and myself this September by getting up close with nature at Pulau Ubin, meeting a community gardener at a Changi Village park, and trying new things at a hawker center.
At the Pulau Ubin sensory trail, a friendly, smiling naturalist named Mr. R. Subaraj led our hike. He was a real expert. I was so impressed with how he picked up a whip snake and handled it carefully, then put it back safely in the trees unharmed. I learned that it has black stripes when it is stressed out, and I watched them slowly fade as it calmed down.
Mr. Raj taught us about an invasive species of plant that wraps itself around a tree, slowly grows roots around it, and eventually strangles it to death. He showed us one that wrapped itself around a small store instead of a tree, and the store’s door was barely visible. We also saw plants that keep mosquitoes and cockroaches away. Mr. Raj was also good at mimicking animals’ noises: monkeys would respond when he talked to them, and he made a perfect bird call of an almost-extinct bird.
Staying in a hotel room with no parents was really fun! Three of us felt more responsible and proud of ourselves for setting a time to go to sleep and sticking to it. We got to know each other better and played games such as Spot It, Farkle, and Uno. It wasn’t too hard to wake up the next morning because I was so excited to build a bridge with our homebase, swim in the pool, and walk along the beach.
Our homebase did challenging team-building activities such as a photo scavenger hunt and Minute to Win It. It was interesting to see how different people react in the same situations when working together. We learned about each other and we helped each other succeed.
I made a new friend who was shy and didn’t talk much in class before Classroom Without Walls, though she was always kind and hardworking. I learned that we both like animals, nature, and adventure. I like seeing her even more now and we talk more in class and in the halls.
At the lively hawker center, the smells made me hungry and made me want to wander to all the stalls and see what kinds of food there was. There were a lot of people in line getting food and talking. I ordered rice with pork from a shopkeeper who smiled and greeted me warmly, and felt proud of myself for ordering and paying for my own food. I felt independent and can imagine going out by myself now. It was hard to find a place to sit and eat, so my friends and I found a table and took turns to get food while the others watched the food and drinks. I felt so much older than I felt in fifth grade!
I can’t wait for Classroom Without Walls in seventh grade. I’m excited to venture further from Singapore and stay longer. I hope there is even more physical activity, and look forward to meeting new people and spending time with new friends.
Outside of school
Jake J., seventh grade
Classroom Without Walls helped me bond with my teacher, classmates, and side. We competed in friendly tournaments against other homebases, including synchronized swimming, sandcastle competitions, and relay races. What made us get to know each other the most was staying in the same room with other boys from my homebase. This was because, at other times, everybody could just go off and play with friends we already knew, but staying in the same room made us get to know each other.
Just as we were leaving for Malaysia, our homebase teacher said, “It will be extremely fun and interesting to see what you guys will be like outside of school!” And that’s just what everybody did. We also saw what the teachers are like when they’re not in the classroom, which was very different and more fun than they are in the classroom.
I feel like I know my homebase teacher Ms. Olsen differently now. Thumbs up for Classroom Without Walls!
Experiencing kampung life
Tim L., eighth grade
This Classroom Without Walls trip to Telunas, Indonesia let me see the world in a different way, and prepared me for the world in a new way. I thought critically about world issues and learned how some people get around them. Small things such as no hot water and big issues such as poverty and a lack of infrastructure all have a root cause. Our trip shines the light on the issues, and revealed the true problem and how we can solve it.
This trip, I had the opportunity to experience kampung life first-hand. We got to visit a local community school, walk around the villages, and try some activities essential to the villagers’ daily life. In reality, these are actually happy places, and the people living don’t have major conflicts to worry about, they are self-sustaining, and live with people they have known practically all their lives.
Locals also feel a strong sense of home to the natives; many of the villagers have had their ancestors and elders living in the same place. They are happy people and they get on with life, but the news cover it negatively by saying they say that they need a “normal” life in financial terms, and start doing other things with their lives.
- Social, Emotional and Service Learning