Sunday, February 6, 2011

Training Offerings March/April

Spring Workshops on Singapore Math for Teachers, Grades K - 6:

March 12, 2011: Teacher Training Workshop in Palo Alto, CA
Online registration

March 28, 2011: Teacher Training Workshop in Los Angeles, CA Online registration

April 16, 2011: Teacher Training Workshop in Honolulu, HI Online registration

Friday, July 9, 2010

Join us for our upcoming workshop in San Francisco on Aug. 28!

Today's blog question:

Q: What about the child in my class who says math class is “too easy” ?

A: Suppose a child (let’s say it’s a girl) is a quick learner, and interprets her speed as proof that the work is too easy. We would allow her to skip some of the seatwork, but still have her join in lessons that are done together as a class – group lessons, games, and mental math. In our experience, the group activities are not boring, and they increase her mental math flexibility and her visual understanding of mathematics. If you then give your whole class some time to work on class exercises or workbook pages (seatwork time), she might be excused from those.

In order to be excused, however, we ask the student to do a few workbook exercises correctly and with good form, after which she is excused from the rest of the unit or part of a unit. (Many students think they have mastered a concept as soon as they have a rudimentary understanding of it!)

We use various Singapore Math books like “Intensive Practice” to find extensions, puzzles, riddles and hard word problems for these children to work on during seat work time. The problems we find are more difficult questions on the SAME topic with the rest of the class, just with more depth and complexity. We allow any student access to these challenges, but find the fast finishers are the ones who most enjoy them.

The guideline here is that we do NOT take these students on to the next topic, or on to the next grade level, which can lead to rushing, worksheet-burnout and incomplete understanding.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Singapore Math Workshop

The Pi Project enjoyed a workshop in Honolulu with some great teachers from 3 different schools on Oahu. (OK... maybe we enjoyed a little beach time, too!)
An important question that came up at this workshop: What advice would you give a school that can only use SPM as a supplement?
Answer: Of course, we recommend that SPM be used consistently in order to be most effective, but if this is impossible, then we recommend: n

1. Adopt a UNIT perspective -- Adapt the most important lessons in the chapter to a problem-solving, concrete/pictorial format. Find tasks in the SPM books that address these big ideas. Keep it simple. Often a single multiplication problem, or an interesting word problem is enough. Prepare this one question well. Make sure your numbers are friendly, and predict your students’ outcomes.
2 . Do Mental Math most days. Again, make it short – this is visualization practice, not drill. Discuss and praise multiple ways to see a problem. Only do a few mental math problems on material that has already been covered. Remember: this is the last step of mastery.
3 . Ask Questions! Rather than telling students how to do something, ask. Ask "How do you know? Are you sure? Can you see it another way? What if we move these? Can you prove it? How do the 2 numbers compare? Which is more/less? What if we added more? What if there were twice as many?" With good questions, any curriculum can be made powerful!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Upcoming Workshop in Honolulu

We're packing for Hawaii, and looking forward to working with teachers from the Aloha State! (Not only because of the beautiful weather and beaches!)

Our passion is bringing true mathematical understanding to teachers of children in as many places as possible. On this quest, we're learning more and more about the wonderful teachers in this country, their different ways of seeing math, of thinking about problems, and their desire to teach for greater success.

Our workshop will be held at the Double Tree Hotel in Honolulu.
Join us if you're able!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Singapore Math Workshops

Wonderful participants at our Oakland workshop last Saturday.

Favorite funny exclamation
(while drawing a word problem model that compared the cost of a purse, dress and belt):
"Wait! the belt has to be longer than the dress!"

Most intriguing question:
"How do you encourage students to use Singapore methods (drawing number relationships, using mental math, using models) if there is resistance? What if they say they'd rather "JUST" do it my memorizing a rule?

Our answers:
1. Give students a mix of problems. Make sure there is at least ONE that they can NOT do without the SPM drawing. This can be frustrating, but is very motivating for the doubters.
2. Spend time talking about (and rewarding) DIFFERENT ways of looking at a mental math problem. The emphasis should be on understanding and flexibility, not speed.
3. Let 2 or 3 students come to the board at one time, and compare their models. Discuss the different approaches. Let math become a cooperative endeavor, with UNDERSTANDING at the core, not memorization.

Teachers' Workshop, Honolulu, Hawaii, Feb 20th!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CMC - A Debrief

We're back from a whirlwind trip to Asilomar, CMC South. It had to be the least stressful (and most fun)of all our trips to speak at conferences. That we had Keys School 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade math teachers (Emma Samuels and Rupal Jain) with us made us feel invincible.

The speaking experience was also enriched by having both Kathleen and myself there. We love the repartee that goes on between us both (often unscripted... we're considering moonlighting as improv comedians) and the audience picks up on this rapport. From then the energy is taken to another level.

Our session was well attended with about 30 people attending. Rather decent, actually, considering that our time slot was not the most desirable - 3.30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, just before the close of the conference.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How Does Singapore Math Differ from US Textbooks?

Now in our 5th year of using SPM at Keys School, we feel it has 5 major advantages:

1. Strong number sense. Math facts are not memorized in SPM, but visualized, internalized, and understood. Manipulatives are used heavily to train base-10 sense -- much more so than in US textbooks. Then there are pages and pages of pictorial representations in the workbooks giving students time to TRANSFER their learning into strong number sense. This pictorial transfer phase is what is most critically missing in US textbooks.

2. Mental math mastery: Mental math is a fun and challenging component of daily math instruction all the way through middle school. Rather than concentrating on speed, mental math is presented one problem at a time, with the emphasis on DIFFERENT ways of solving each problem using different approaches.

3. Depth of curriculum: SPM does not use the quick-spiraling approach that US textbooks use. ("If it's Tuesday, It Must Be Fractions"). SPM uses long units; each 3- or 4-week long unit has a minimum quantum of learning, plus additional levels of enrichment. Students have time to truly understand a concept, and successfully transfer it to the abstract in their own minds, and therefore do not need re-teaching.

4. Word problem modeling: The visual nature of SPM rectangle models allows students to tackle word problems with confidence. Even those learners who struggle with math (and especially word problems) learn to solve complex problems because they can SEE them.

5. Algebra readiness: Because of the emphasis on understanding of math concepts, rather than memorizing algorithms, students actually transition more easily to algebra with SPM. They say it is just "arithmetic with letters instead of numbers". At Keys we have seen a constant increase in algebra ability of our 8th graders since we adopted SPM. Most importantly, the "non-math" students who used to struggle and fail algebra are now succeeding.

The only disadvantage we've discovered is that adopting SPM required training for our math teachers, who needed to discard the algorithms they were taught and teach math from a conceptual, mathematical basis. Corrinne did our training, and it was brilliant!