I started teaching Singapore math 14 years ago and have great appreciation for the curriculum. I have taught the Primary Mathematics and the Dimensions and have come to know first hand year after year what makes the curriculum both approachable and challenging for my students. When starting to teach Singapore math, I was already a seasoned teacher - in fact, all-in-all I have been teaching for 27 years!
What Still Inspires Me Decades Later
Being able to connect with my students, especially at the upper elementary level, is key to helping them reach their full potential. Not all students learn the same way or at the same pace. Finding a strategy that works for each child is the challenge I love. Teaching the very small group classes through Monster Education makes it possible to find that connection with every child. That makes every class an inspiring experience for me and hopefully fun for my students.
Why I love Teaching Singapore Math
Singapore math allows students to grasp new concepts in a way that makes sense to them. There isn’t just one way to think about a problem and solve it. Singapore math is approachable for a variety of different learning styles and is challenging enough for the most advanced students. The Singapore program also teaches mastery through a deep understanding of numbers and operations. These skills build on each other as the student gets older.
Singapore Math in Upper Elementary
By upper elementary grades, students have a concrete understanding of basic facts, can visualize the problem, and apply their knowledge to other problems. Singapore math students should ideally have gained mastery of multiplication and division facts before leaving the third grade. These facts are the baseline for fourth and fifth grade topics including factors, multiples, fractions and geometry.
Mental calculations and problem solving strategies are also essential when entering the upper grades. Students need to know how to decide which operations are needed when solving multi-step word problems by looking for clue words and creating a model for the problem.
Developing a Problem Solving Mindset
Problem solving is probably one of the hardest concepts to teach in math. It is one the key skills that Singapore math focuses on in the upper elementary grades. By drawing models for each problem, showing their work, and writing outcome statements students are able to visualize what the problem is asking, and choose a method to solve it that makes sense to them. Having to write the answer in a complete sentence allows them to double check that their answer matches the question. It also brings the math concepts back to the real world as most Singapore word problems are real-world problems.
As tough as some of the upper elementary concepts are, seeing students gain confidence in the process makes the hard work worth it. By the end of each unit, kids are always laughing about how hard it seemed when they first started. Singapore math instills confidence in the students’ mathematical skills that lasts a lifetime. It makes the students’ effort all worth their while!
Ms. Mitchell teaches upper elementary Singapore math at Monster Education. Ms. Mitchell brings her fun and bubbly personality and her 27 years of teaching experience to every class. She has taught upper elementary Singapore math for the past 14 years. Her specialty is making long division, multiple digit multiplication, fractions, and multi-step word problems seem like a piece of cake! She holds a BS in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida.