BRONXVILLE, N.Y. -- Bronxville Elementary School has taken a new approach to teaching math to its students. The technique, “Singapore Math,” is based on the national math system of Singapore, which aims to promote a deeper understanding of numbers and mathematical concepts using critical thinking skills.
The curriculum, which has already been rolled out for Bronxville students in kindergarten through second grade, was introduced to third-graders this year.
Third-grade teacher and curriculum leader Sara Payne said the innovative approach to teaching math involves visual hands-on manipulatives like cubes, counters, place value disks or even candy to help students solve different problems.
The students move through a three-step learning process – concrete (manipulatives), pictorial and abstract (thinking). First, the teacher introduces a new concept with manipulatives. Then, the students draw pictures using bar models, arrays or other visuals to show their work. Finally, they complete the abstract problems using mathematical equations.
“The Singapore Math philosophy emphasizes developing a strong number sense, mental math skills and a deep understanding of place value,” Payne said. “It is the idea that learning to problem-solve and develop mathematical thinking are the key factors to being successful in math.”
Payne said the philosophy encourages students to collaborate and discover different ways or strategies to solve a problem. It also helps students understand the concepts behind what they’re doing and why, rather than simply memorizing facts.
“Students use their critical thinking skills, focusing on the process with less emphasis on the answer,” she said. “They are learning to explain their thinking, show their work and collaborate to discuss their steps while solving a problem in many different ways.”
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