We’ve had many questions about our math curriculum – Singapore Math. Below, one of our parent volunteers, Stacey Gibson researched and wrote about the curriculum to help answer some of your most pressing questions about it.
Note: New Summit will not be using the common core version of Singapore Math.
The Singapore Math curriculum has been used in the country of Singapore since the 1980’s. Singapore consistently ranks among the top countries in the world for math literacy.
Singapore Math relies heavily on visualization and solving problems by using pictures and diagrams. The curriculum focuses on teaching students how to master skills and in solving equations, rather than just memorization and drills. There are three phases of learning: concrete, pictorial and abstract.
In the concrete phase, students use manipulatives (such as blocks or buttons) to learn math concepts with a hands-on approach. Students learn addition and subtraction by physically adding or removing objects to or from a row or group.
The pictorial step teaches students how to draw diagrams, known as “bar models”. This process involves drawing bars in order to visualize the parts of an equation. This is useful not only for addition and subtraction but also for multiplication and division. These skills are particularly useful in solving word problems. Rather than trying to picture the elements of the problem in their head, the student will draw bars representing the different parts of the word problem. This allows younger children to solve more complex problems.
Once students have developed a thorough understanding of the concepts by using concrete objects and diagrams, they move on to abstract learning. The abstract phase moves from using physical objects and bar models, to the numbers and symbols used in traditional mathematics.
Singapore math uses a layering approach, in which each skill builds upon the last. In the United States, many math curriculums use a spiral approach, in which skills that had been learned in the months or years prior are revisited. The Singapore curriculum focuses on mastering a fewer number of concepts each year, there isn’t a need to go back over those concepts months or years later. This slower approach allows more time for mastery and retention. Since students develop a deep understanding of how math processes work, they are typically prepared for more advanced math at earlier grade levels than is seen with many other math curriculums.
This curriculum meets and exceeds the Common Core standards mandated by the State Board of Education. The Singapore approach allows students to achieve a higher level of proficiency sooner than the traditional math curriculum.
Check out Cassy and her passion for Singapore Math and what it’s all about: