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Singapore Maths - experience anyone?

(26 Posts)
bronya Tue 07-Jul-15 15:10:20

How is it supposed to be taught? Surely the whole mixed ability class working at the speed of the slowest pupil cannot be right? No differentiation at all, all independent problem solving abilities squashed, all enthusiasm for Maths totally wiped out with children ending Y2 having done only numbers below 100???

BrilliantDayForTheRace Tue 07-Jul-15 17:46:03

I think they work at speed of avg child and chn who find it hard are just meant to do extra after school.....

mrz Tue 07-Jul-15 18:09:08

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 07-Jul-15 18:34:24

It's not supposed to be working at the speed of the slowest children, but yes it is mixed ability teaching. I can't see how it would quash independent problem solving skills unless it's being badly taught.

The current nc expectations are for children to end year 2 having dealt with numbers to 100. Obviously some children will have done higher numbers, but the majority will be working with numbers to 100. Mostly when using Singapore maths, or one of the schemes based on it they don't do a direct age swap. P1 would normally be 6-7 year olds but usually the p1 curriculum is taught to year 1 and P2 to year 2, which means dealing with place value, reading, writing and calculating with numbers to 1000 for all children.

Galena Tue 07-Jul-15 19:11:49

Independent problem solving most definitely should be being encouraged. Children are given an investigative problem to work on with little guidance, allowing them to develop their problem solving methods which they then come together to share and discuss. Lower achieving children then have more structured support while higher achievers are given more independence and more chance to apply their learning with similar, but different, problems to show that they have truly understood how to apply their learning, rather than just plugging in numbers and turning the handle to get an answer.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 07-Jul-15 19:23:17

I'm trying to work out how badly you would have to teach it to quash problem solving skills. Probably so badly it's no longer 'Singapore maths'.

My understanding is that there are at least two ways that problem solving is incoroprated into lessons. Firstly the sort of investigative tasks that allow children to discover rules/concepts for themselves. Then tasks where the higher attaining children are problem solving using using skills they have learnt while others are still practicing and developing those skills. There are probably also lessons where problem solving skills are taught specifically, but those might be a bit less open ended.

bronya Tue 07-Jul-15 20:10:33

Thanks all - my faith in the world is slightly restored! The lessons seem to have consisted of simply filling in the workbook (question by question, not allowed to go ahead) with the least able having teacher support and manipulatives to help. No practical work, no investigations, just drilling in number facts.

spanieleyes Tue 07-Jul-15 20:15:26

The steps are meant to be very small ones, so that every child can access all of the teaching. it is a VERY big change from how maths is taught currently ( OFSTED inspectors are having special training on what it should look like as it is so different to what we expect to see-differentiation, rapid progress, group work etc-that there is concern they might not understand!!

Smartiepants79 Tue 07-Jul-15 20:25:39

We have incorporated some Singapore maths teaching into our curriculum this year and my understanding is that it is all about problem solving????
Never seen any work books....
We've been teaching our kids Singapore bar methods - concrete, pictorial and abstract.
Been quite interesting and will take some time to show how it impacts on the children's methods in the end.
The oldest and most able have found it difficult to see the point of it as they feel they have heir own methods that work already BUT our maths co-ordinator feels in could be invaluable for solving more complex problems.

mrz Tue 07-Jul-15 20:29:29,aps,290 plenty of work books available

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 07-Jul-15 21:23:52

I'm not sure they are supposed to just work through the work books like that. There should definitely be practical work. The whole point is that is it's based on Bruner's ideas of working from concrete to pictorial to abstract. So all new concepts are introduced practically, then represented with drawings or jottings, then the abstract of just numbers.

Do you know if they use the textbooks as well, because those have the practical activities in. The workbooks are really just drill and practice to develop fluency, they aren't supposed to be stand alone.

bronya Tue 07-Jul-15 22:00:13

Rafals I don't know about textbooks. The workbooks say 'Maths No Problem' on them.

The children say that Maths is too easy, boring and repetitive. Last summer they were full of enthusiasm and fire for it. Nothing was too hard, they were convinced they could do it if they just tried hard enough. I know this because the friends of ours who are their parents, asked me (as an ex teacher) to help find problems, puzzles etc of a mathematical nature to keep their interest. I had a lovely afternoon with two little enthusiastic children showing them what I had found! This year, their mum invited me round to see how things had changed. I was shocked to see the change in them. All of the wonder, the love of numbers and the drive to succeed is just gone!

mrz Tue 07-Jul-15 22:17:09

Galena Tue 07-Jul-15 22:51:01

My colleague has just been to a workshop run by Yeap Ban Har who wrote that book. He very much focussed on problem solving and moving children on. It sounds like someone has been provided the materials without training and has used them badly.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 07-Jul-15 23:40:41

I agree with Galena. I can't see Yeap Ban Har endorsing that use of his books.

The Maths No problem books are a version of Singapore Maths that has been aligned to the UK curriculum rather than the Singapore one, which would explain the numbers to 100 in year 2. I can see how that might be limiting for higher attaining children. The 3 other schemes I'm aware of all seem to have stuck more closely to the original SM schemes which essentially means they are using many of the number objectives from the year above in the new curriculum. There's almose certainly more challenge in that for the most able.

Cloud2 Wed 08-Jul-15 12:57:48

Don't know anything about Singapore Maths, but had experience of similar system.

I think the advantage of it is that it will let most of children have a solid math foundation. But I don't think it will stimulate the bright, able children much. I guess bright and most able children would normally take extra stuff outside classroom in Singapore.

Like when I was little, there are no after school tution exist in my country, teacher would put challenge questions on the board every week. you would get a reward for being the first one to solve it. There were exciting compitition between a group of boys and a group of girls in my class I remember.And now, there are after school math class teaching Olympiad math for the most able children. I think Olympiad math is quite different from the normal math, it is more a kind of intellegence challenge.

I hope, UK won't just simply adapt Singapore math, but use the approach to help most children gain solid foundation, still keep the differentiation for the bright students.

Just mention, I have to say I am surprised to see some of my colleagues (who have been to University, of course learnt non science ,engineering subject) can't work out average, percentage.

Cloud2 Wed 08-Jul-15 13:10:42

And although the math seems easy in earlier years, might be repetitive. But by year 5 and year 6, it certainly goes more in depth. The pace goes faster. Secondary math is much advanced than UK math.I have always heard friends' children who just moved to UK found math learned at home are advanced than here.

ReallyTired Wed 08-Jul-15 13:18:42

I used the Singapore Early bird Kindergarten book with my daughter. In my experience there is a lot of hands on activites to get children to really understand what numbers mean and place value. (Ie. grouping real objects into groups of tens and ones.)

I feel that year 1 UK maths goes too quickly. Children need to really understand basic concepts rather than rush on ahead.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 08-Jul-15 14:08:31

That's interesting, cloud2. I think I might agree with you about retaining differentiation for some of the higher attaining children. But I'm not sure how much that is to do with the fact that recently differentiation here has been more along the lines of pushing children forwards. It might be that better quality differentiation and in depth tasks on the same content might challenge those children just as well.

Practice and repetition is a fairly huge part of implementing SM. But the set of books used in a year group includes more challenging workbooks linked to the content in the textbooks and standard workbooks. I don't think those are as widely available in the Uk and that may be part of the problem.

Cloud2 Wed 08-Jul-15 14:27:01

I agree with you. The differentiation shouldn't be just pushing children forward. The main math education is to provide a solid foundation for majority students to gain important life and work skill. And then , maybe some addiontal math for bright students to strech them.

The sort of math questions that I mention to strech bright children in primary school are like these, the famouse Chicken and duck one , you are given the total number of feet and have to work out how many chicken and how many duck. The climbing cliff one, for certain length ,you go up 3 feet and slip down 1 feet per hour, how many hours to get to the top. Student has to take account the last hour you don't need to slip back down. Like the one , there are a certain journey, 2 people walk from each end, when to meet. I remember we have to do lots of questions which we called practical questions, that the question are in sentence, and real situation, you have to apply math skill to it.

ReallyTired Wed 08-Jul-15 14:32:01

I thought that differentiation in singapore maths is sideways rather than acceleration. The more able children who finish their work early are given mentally challenging problems like the sort on nich

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 08-Jul-15 14:54:55

Mostly it is, but I think there might be some flexibility. Going on the challenging problems book for P1a the chapter on numbers to 10 includes comparing and ordering numbers to 20 IIRC. That would normally be taught later. I'm not sure if that extends to the later chapters of 1b taking from P2 content though.

Difficult to say what all teachers in Singapore are doing in their classrooms anyway. They could all be doing something slightly different while using the same sets of textbooks and the same basic principles.

lutra3d Wed 08-Jul-15 15:05:20

I read an article which explained that children who are struggling have extra tuition from their teacher so that they can keep up in class. The teachers have time built in for this on their timetables.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 08-Jul-15 15:32:44

That was the impression I had lutra. I think Singapore schools run on a half day so children struggling are given catch up session on the part of the day they are not in. The other thing I think I've read is that childten that struggle with maths are taught in smaller groups. They cover the same lesson but with a smaller teacher:child ratio.

I think maths mastery works in a similar way. The lesson is taught in the morning then children that had a problem with that lesson are given further teaching in the afternoon. That on it own might account for the extra progress rather than the way any individual lesson is taught.

lutra3d Wed 08-Jul-15 15:40:25

I hadn't read that the children who struggle are taught in smaller groups - that's interesting. I think it's key that the extra tuition comes from the teacher. It was also my understanding that the teachers additionally get lots of time for CPD.

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