Thursday, May 20, 2010
Questions Posted at Singapore Math in Action Professional Development in Manila
These are some questions posted at the Singapore Math in Action by Keys Institute for Teaching & Learning.
Q: You said that Singapore Math does not focus on recalling procedures. But isn't math process procedural? Please explain the difference.
A: In the Singapore curriculum, procedural fluecy is important but must be learnt meaningfully. Thus, the long division algorithm is explained using base ten blocks. Or the division of a whole number by a fraction is explained using the grouping meaning of division (how many three-fourths are there in one whole?. Mathematical processes include the use of heuristics and thinking skills. They also include reasoning, communication and seeing connections. None of these are procedural in the sense that the invert-and-multiply strategy is procedural.Mathematics is about sense making rather than recalling procedures.
Q: Many schools in Manila have crowded curriculum. How do you suggest Singapore Math being implemented the way it should be implemented given that kind of national curriculum?
A: Some schools simply use the Singapore curriculum and make sure that by the end of six years their students have mastered all content in the Filipino curriculum. Others use it as a resource to help teachers teach whatever there are in the Filipino curriculum in a meaningful way and to give their students challenging problems to solve.
Q: How do you feel about supplementing the school's curriculum of U.S. Math with Singapore Math? Will it be confusing for the child or would it be helpful for the child to learn different ways of solving problems?
A: Mathematics is the same everywhere. Singapore mathematics textbooks use more visual approaches and can help students learn abstract ideas.
Q: How old are Grade 1 students in Singapore?
A: They turn seven during the school year. They start school in January.
Q: When do you recommend a school to introduce Singapore Math to their students?
A: Any program is best introduce right from the start - Grade 1.
Q: How do you feel about 4th Graders using finger-counting to arrive at addition facts?
A: This should not happen. First and maybe second graders may use finger counting to figure out addition. But these should soon become facts and be remembered. Games such as Salute! seen in the lesson conducted during the seminar should help students gain mastery and fluency in addition facts. See the photograph.
Q: How do you help kids adjust from traditional methods to Singapore Math method especially if they are already in a higher grade?
A: They will need to get use to the use of bar models to solve word problems and they need to get use to more challenging materials. Older students may need some closing of gap.