Actively Participating in Learning, Through the GEMS Experiential Learning Programme

By Derrick Moloney, Experiential Learning Programme Coordinator (Senior Years) October 18, 2018
Actively Participating in Learning, Through the GEMS Experiential Learning Programme

The Experiential Learning Programme (ELP) at GEMS World Academy (Singapore) supports and enhances teaching and learning experiences to engage students in real-world issues where students learn through experience and reflection.

The programme supports learning throughout the curriculum and also provides specific opportunities within the academic year for students to engage in experiential learning activities, connecting the curriculum beyond the classroom in a variety of contexts. 

Students in Grades 6 through 10 are offered a great mix of cultural activities, physical challenges, community engagement, and service. Students demonstrate responsible action through, or as a result of, learning, becoming more engaged in their own learning process and creating experiences and memories that will stay with them their whole lives.

Each year at GEMS (Singapore) students are invited to participate in a ‘Week-Without-Walls’ experience. This is a key element of each student’s experiential learning encounter. The ‘Week-Without-Walls’ experience is designed to provide our students with opportunities outside of the classroom context to further develop their connections with the curriculum while also promoting the approaches to learning that help develop global citizenship.

During these week-long experiences, students engage in cultural exchanges, become involved in community-based projects as well as Service as Action opportunities. Developing interpersonal skills, investigating curriculum links, and exploring aspects of the IB Learner Profile.

As part of my role as the Senior Years Experiential Learning Programme (ELP) Coordinator at GEMS (Singapore), I oversee our ‘Week-Without-Walls’ experiences for our students in Grades 6 through to Grade 10. This involves many hours of meticulous planning, communication with students and their families, liaising with tour operators and fine-tuning plans with my colleagues in the Educational Leadership Team.

Last year, our students travelled to South Vietnam, Laos, as well as Cambodia. Our students worked alongside the local community in a range of activities such as visiting the local schools, helping the students with their day-to-day activities or teaching them English and games. They also had the opportunity to participate in other local service projects such as community projects and cultural activities.

One GEMS (Singapore) Grade 10 Homeroom teachers last year, accompanied the students to Cambodia. She described why the experience was so important to the students by commenting that it “gets them out of their comfort zone.”

The Cambodia experience made them, (the students) realize how lucky they are living the way they live… to understand that there are so many things to do for the less privileged and to embrace their friendships with classmates and friends.

One of our students in Grade 8 travelled to Laos. He described his experiences and the positive impact his group had on the local community.

We travelled to a hill tribe village about 40 minutes away from Luang Prabang. After arriving in the village we were sent to the houses of the local people where we spent the night. After that, we learned about our Community Service activities… We helped make trash cans out of baskets to put around the local school and village. We also collected the trash on the roads to help clean up the countryside. Finally, we had the chance to teach English to the kids of the village and to play soccer with the kids.

The 2018-2019 academic year is shaping up to be a very exciting year in terms of our 'Week-Without-Walls’ experiences on offer to students. Our Grade 10 students will be our first year-group to go on their excursion. This year to Cambodia in November 2018. They will travel to a rural village, 90 minutes by road from Siem Reap, Cambodia. Our students will spend the week living with the locals and learning about their day-to-day life. They will also participate in long-term sustainability community projects. Undertake a variety of activities and sessions organised within the camp and visit the world-famous temples of Angkor Wat in the latter part of the week.

Our students in Grades 6 to 9 will go on their 'Week-Without-Walls' experiences later in the academic year, March 2019. Destinations and plans are still being finalized at this stage. Destinations will mostly be within the South-East Asian region.

Learn more about the GEMS World Academy (Singapore) Experiential Learning Programme (ELP) Programme click here>

Derrick Moloney,
Experiential Learning Programme Coordinator (Senior Years) 

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