According to Forbes Magazine (2012), two of the ten most in-demand job skills include critical thinking and mathematics. This reinforces what we already knew; God created us in His image to think creatively and logically, to solve problems and find solutions, to fulfill His unique purpose for our lives. If students are to progress successfully in advanced-level math courses, they must develop a strong foundation of mathematics from a very early age. Beginning in 2012, a math committee of Upper and Lower School teachers and administrators evaluated math instructional practices, reviewed curriculum, and researched ways to strengthen math instruction at WCCS. As a result, the Lower School teachers studied Primary Mathematics/Singapore Math strategies during the summer preparing to implement a new math curriculum in Kindergarten through 5th grades.
The Singapore approach focuses on developing students who are problem solvers and thinkers. Educators in Singapore created the program in the 1980’s based on Jerome Bruner’s (1957) learning theory of Concrete – Pictorial – Abstract. The program focuses on a progression from concrete experience (manipulatives) to pictorial (visual models or drawings) and finally to the abstract (numerical symbols). This series of computation strategies offers a better way to build mathematical understand and thinking. Results from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) provide evidence of success as Singapore students consistently rank among the best in the world in math achievement. Many US schools have implemented these math strategies since Singapore Math Inc. brought them to the US in 1998.
Characteristics of Primary Mathematics/Singapore Math include an emphasis on depth over breadth; therefore, more time is devoted to each topic with a greater focus on mastery. Topics are introduced with simple examples and then incrementally developed until more difficult problems are addressed. Abstract thinking is grounded in understanding; therefore, students gain a relational understanding of mathematics that requires them to understand both “what to do” and “why.” Singapore Math teaches model drawing diagrams that promote understanding of word problems and provide a bridge to algebraic thinking. Mental Math techniques also encourage understanding of mathematical properties and promote numerical fluency. A high level of expectation is implicit in the curriculum, as students become more sophisticated mathematical thinkers.
Take a few minutes to watch a short video clip that explains Primary Mathematics/Singapore Math and try it yourself! Also, check out the PowerPoint for additional information and links to helpful information and resources.
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