Back to School is upon us, so welcome to Math in Focus: Singapore Math!
If this is your school’s first year implementing Singapore math, consider a Back-to-School Night presentation, addressing the history of Singapore’s success and the overarching philosophies.
You can welcome your community to the program by sending home a letter (click image to preview). Math in Focus users will find these, as well as letters for each Chapter, included in their School-to-Home Connections book. In your welcome, address the program as a whole, including materials students may take home and a few of the big topics you will teach at your grade level.
Parent Support Videos will be featured hmheducation.com/singaporemath, so stay tuned for an update when these videos go live in September. Look for additional resources to download and share with families or colleagues, describing Singapore Math, including Problem Solving, Place Value, and Bar Modeling.
The early chapters in each grade level place a strong emphasis on Number and Place Value. Singapore math is designed so that teachers guide instruction to develop mastery and solid conceptual understanding. Operations and Problem solving are embedded into these early chapters and will continue to be practiced and applied at higher levels throughout the year (in Geometry, Measure, Data, etc. strands).
Much of the success of the Singapore approach is due to the learning pathway of moving from the concrete to pictorial representations and finally the abstract (symbols, numbers, words). Beginning with basic counters (and fingers) in Kindergarten, students advance in using other manipulatives to model numbers. These include connecting cubes, place-value blocks and place-value chips.
Children are engaged in meaningful activities that encourage discussion with a focus on metacognition. After showing a quantity using concrete materials, children are encouraged to communicate new strategies in comparing with another quantity, shown in a slightly more abstract way. Eventually, students consolidate prior knowledge and number sense to count, read and write, show, compare and make patterns using larger numbers.
In reviewing the first few chapters you will teach, note which manipulatives are suggested for the lessons and consider creating a small inventory to place at each table or cluster of desks. This encourages collaboration and allows you to remediate if necessary, easily revisiting the concrete stage though others may have progressed to the pictorial or abstract.
Note the vocabulary used consistently throughout — such as digit, numeral, number, tens, value, etc. is intentionally introduced in a sequential format, mindful of how appropriate or abstract the concept may be.
Chapter 1 Sequence Across All Grades K-6
Kindergarten: Numbers to 5
Grade 1: Numbers to 10
Grade 2: Numbers to 1,000
Grade 3: Numbers to 10,000
Grade 4: Place Value of Whole Numbers
Grade 5: Whole Numbers
Grade 6: Positive Numbers and the Number Line
If you have a story of success that you’d like to share with other educators, send an email email@example.com or add your comment below.
A few Teacher Tips that many Singapore math classrooms have found helpful…
1) Instead of using a word wall to expose students to new vocabulary, use sentence strips and write out the new vocabulary word, the definition and an example. Insert these in a pocket chart or use magnets to hang in a prominent space in your classroom. This allows the sentence strip (and new vocabulary) to be a portable device that can be moved into a small group instruction area where you may focus on new vocabulary with students identified, specifically, as needing that support.
2) Begin using place value language as it is introduced in early chapters. Be mindful of using this terminology even after students progress past lessons where this language is explicitly taught. For example, when students are regrouping in a lesson on addition, model and ask for students to explain the process. “One hundred is the same as 10 tens. So, 20 tens is the same as 200.” (as in regrouping two tens as 200).
3) Use the School-to-Home Connections Newsletters (or Family Letters in Grades 6-8) at the start of each new chapter to continue communication between school and home. These letters, printed in English and Spanish, include: a brief summary of the lessons taught within the upcoming chapter; new vocabulary; an activity that can be done at home with an adult, sibling or friend. Math in Focus teachers have access to these letters in a blackline master (printed) and electronic format (pdf). You can print a copy of the letter to send home and email or post on a class website or blog.
4) If you have not already done so, consider creating and laminating a classroom set of place-value mats (beginning in Grade 1) to manage use of place value blocks or chips where students can also write using wipe-off markers. Math in Focus teachers may reproduce the Place Value Charts (found in the Teacher’s Resource pages in the back of the Teacher’s Editions) and laminate or order as an additional component.