Friday, October 1, 2010

Singapore math (good overview)

In contrast to the most common math programs in the United States, Singapore math devotes more time to fewer topics, to ensure that children master the material through detailed instruction, questions, problem solving, and visual and hands-on aids like blocks, cards and bar charts. Ideally, they do not move on until they have thoroughly learned a topic.

Principals and teachers say that slowing down the learning process gives students a solid math foundation upon which to build increasingly complex skills, and makes it less likely that they will forget and have to be retaught the same thing in later years.

And with Singapore math, the pace can accelerate by fourth and fifth grades, putting children as much as a year ahead of students in other math programs as they grasp complex problems more quickly.

That's from today's New York Times article, which also notes that while the books for the Singapore approach have costs in line with other textbooks, equipping teachers to use these methods may need a major professional development investment.

As nearly as I can follow the bidding, our new Common Core math standards share the Singapore notion of studying fewer concepts more deeply, and this approach to teaching will be a credible contender as a school strategy for moving students forward to those new expectations for higher achievement.  There may be some specific elements that do not quite align, but the main thinking truly seems compatible.

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