Singapore Math adds up for J.E. Cosgriff Memorial teachers and students

Friday, Dec. 10, 2010
Singapore Math adds up for J.E. Cosgriff Memorial teachers and students + Enlarge
J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School first-grade teacher Sarah Wealton explains math concepts to some of her students.
By Special to the Intermountain Catholic

Let’s talk math! My first grade students often hear "tell me a math story about this illustration" or "explain how you arrived at that solution." After some modeling and practice, each and every one of them can easily do both of those things thanks to the Singapore Math curriculum and strategies that are being used throughout J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School.

Singapore Math is a curriculum modeled on the way math is taught in Singapore. It emphasizes the development of strong number sense, excellent mental math skills, and a deep understanding of place value. The curriculum is based on conceptualization before procedures through the sequence of concrete – pictorial – abstract. Instructional strategies build understanding through activities that move students in a sequence from concrete experience such as using manipulatives and hands-on learning, to a pictorial stage using visual models and then to the abstract level which is using numbers and symbols. Following this sequence ensures students have a solid understanding of basic mathematical concept and relationships before they start working at the abstract level. Concepts are taught to mastery and revisited but not retaught. Singapore Math focuses on developing students who are problem solvers. Students are taught computation methods that facilitate mental math as well as model drawing, a visual approach to solving word problems that helps them organize information and solve problems in a step-by-step manner. Singapore Math is used as a supplement to the Utah core curriculum and diocesan-adopted math programs. It is taught in preschool, focusing on number sense, up through elementary and middle school, which use more of the model drawing and mental math skills.

Cosgriff School began training and implementing Singapore Math in the 2009-2010 school year and chose to send three faculty members to an intensive four day training in July 2010. These three faculty members have offered in-service to fellow teachers in groups as well as on an individual basis. They also hosted a successful Singapore Math Parent Night in September. Over 75 parents were eager to learn about number sense, model drawing and other innovative math strategies. Teachers challenged the parents with a new way to learn math and provided activities that their students had been experiencing in class. Plans are underway for another parent night in January.

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