SEKOLAH Menengah Kebangsaan Puchong Batu 14 (SMK Puchong) together with YTL Foundation, FrogAsia Sdn Bhd (FrogAsia) and the design and architectural department of Syarikat Pembenaan Yeoh Tiong Lay Sdn Bhd (SPYTL Design Group) recently launched the school’s new Frog Classroom.
The idea of transforming the classroom came about when YTL Foundation’s director of projects, Datin Kathleen Chew, was invited by Teach for Malaysia to teach a class and motivate the students.
The class she taught in was in a terrible state of disrepair. Chairs and tables were broken and window panes were missing. There was even a hole in the door where someone had kicked it in.
Chew was stunned by the condition of the classroom.
“The students were responsive and eager to know more about the world and I could not help but think how much it would help them to learn in an environment that was clean, bright and fun, where they could be motivated to channel their energies positively,” Chew explains.
YTL Foundation and FrogAsia therefore decided to embark on a classroom makeover initiative.
YTL Foundation enlisted the help of the SPYTL Design Group and challenged them to develop the “Frog Classroom”, a space designed to fulfil the needs of teaching and learning, and that could be easily and affordably built by volunteers in other schools.
The team visited the school, interviewed the teachers and students, and spent many hours researching and brainstorming ideas in order to establish their vision of a classroom of the future.
They came up with a design that is centred around the students’ desks.
These desks are unconventionally curved and arranged in a spiral within the room. Students sit across from each other in groups so they can learn collaboratively.
The walls are painted in sections of bright blue, green, magenta and white, with white boards at the back of the class for students to express themselves.
A punching bag is hung in one corner, while an ornately framed mirror is hung in another.
“Teenagers want to be heard and, if they do not get the attention they desire, they express themselves in other ways,” says Baldip Singh, chief architect of the SPYTL Design Group.
“For example, the walls and tables in the school were terribly vandalised, with bad language scribbled everywhere, probably written out of anger or frustration. The doors had punch holes in them as the students were channelling their grievances towards school property.
“We decided that we would use their language in the design, so it would be something they could easily understand.
“We custom-made the tables but did not finish them in the factory. The team then went to work on the unfinished desks and doodled positive messages on the tables. We also thought a punching bag would be perfect for releasing pent up energy as after punching the bag a few times, the students would hopefully not punch the doors or anything else,” Baldip adds.
Once the designs were complete and approved by the school, the team worked to make the ideas a reality, carrying out much of the work including washing windows and painting walls.
“This is really amazing and so motivating to the students,” said Lee Poh Eng, the principal.
“Projects like this one make them feel special I am very grateful and touched by this effort.”
To support the Frog Classroom, YTL Foundation has also donated a Chromelab to the school.
The Chromelab consists of 42 Chromebooks, which come in a mobile Chromecart so that they can be easily charged and safely stored.
The Chromelab is also provisioned with Yes 4G mobile connectivity, enabling the entire class to be connected to the Internet.
FrogAsia, the provider of the Frog Virtual Learning Environment (Frog VLE) to schools in the country under the 1BestariNet project, further supports this initiative by providing training on the use of the Frog VLE as well as teaching and learning resources from the Frog Store.
“YTL Foundation believes that technology can level the playing field in the everyday learning process,” says Chew.
“The Frog Classroom will allow the students to have access to information far beyond the physical limits of the classroom.
“They can source for information on the internet, collaborate with each other or students from other schools, and be a part of FrogAsia’s Connected Classrooms (a series of live online webinars that give students the opportunity to interact with experts from different fields or even say hello to students in other countries)!” she said.
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