Saturday, May 26, 2012

Spiral Curriculum

Good day Dr. Yeap! I attended the seminar last May 21-24 at SM Megall (see photo). Thank you for sharing your expertise and time with us. I just want to ask you about spiral progression. How do you apply it in Math? Can you give an example? Cely
Singapore mathematics curriculum emphasizes the spiral approach based on Jerome Bruner's explanation on spiral curriculum. The idea of the spiral curriculum, according to Bruner - 'A curriculum as it develops should revisit this basic ideas repeatedly, building upon them until the student has grasped the full formal apparatus that goes with them.' Most people will not miss the idea of 'repeatedly' but may miss the subtle notion of 'building upon them' and 'until the student has grasped the full formal apparatus' of the target concept. In Singapore curriculum, addition is taught four times in Grade 1 (this is a core idea and they are new to it) - addition with 10, within 20, within 40 and within 100. Students get to revisit the idea of addition repeatedly but each time building on the strategies that they already had. When they add with 10, they count all and count on, perhaps with the use of concrete objects and drawings. Later, in addition within 20, they learn to make ten before adding, effectively acquiring the notion of place value. Later they progress to more formal approaches such as adding ones and adding tens in the formal algorithm. Thus, it is not mere review of materials. It involves extension. In a similar way, multiplication of whole numbers is taught in grades one through four; addition and subtraction of fractions is taught in grades two through five; area of plane figures is taught in grades three through seven; solving equations is taught in grades seven through nine. As a result, in Singapore, Algebra is taught across grade levels in high school (grades seven through twelve). Thus, we do not have the practice of teaching Algebra, Geometry etc separately. They are all under the subject of mathematics. There is geometry in all grade levels.