Oxford University Events featuring Singapore Maths (and Me!)

Photo: Pablo Fernández/Flickr Creative Commons

Photo: Pablo Fernández/Flickr Creative Commons

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be speaking at not just one, but two different international conferences at Oxford University in England this June. And I am deeply honored by the invitation to present a Keynote address at one. Here are the details:

researchED Maths and Science Conference

Saturday, June 11th, 2016 — Oxford’s Mathematical Institute

reseachED are holding an inaugural conference in Oxford aimed at primary and secondary maths and science teachers. I’ll be on a panel with Sue Lowndes and Dr. Fong Ho Kheong that will explore the implementation of the Singapore approach in non-Singaporean countries; what do we know, what we have learned and what should we do going forwards. I’ll be the representing U.S. contingent.

International Forum: Implications for UK practice in using the Singapore approach to teaching and learning in mathematics

Monday and Tuesday, June 13 – 14, 2016 — St. Anne’s College, Oxford

I will be speaking at two sessions at this conference. On Day 2, I’ll present a keynote entitled: You’ve adopted the Singapore approach to teaching mathematics – now what? Singapore maths curricula have a proven track record for meeting standards in mathematics. They can, however, be seen as a departure from prior curricula that teachers have used. This session will explore what teachers and senior leaders should consider throughout the implementation process.

I’ll also head up a workshop session, Filling in Knowledge Gaps: Critical lessons across the year groups.  Upper KS2 students (that’s ages 8 to 11 to Americans) frequently lack the foundations required in order to successfully follow the Singapore curriculum. In this ‘straight from the classroom’ session, we’ll discuss the critical lessons and concepts students must master before jumping into their year-level content.

I understand that registration is brisk at these sessions. Hope to see you there!

Link to event registration pages:

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Winter 2016 dates for Intro to Singapore Math BER Seminar

My brain exploded
Wow! January already? Here upcoming dates for my Bureau of Education and Research seminar How to Use the Best Strategies From Singapore Mathematics to Strengthen Your Math Instruction  I’m told that seats are still available for the January seminars!

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Your city not on the list? Contact me and I can bring my Singapore Math® workshop(s) to your school or district – email Cassy (at) singaporemathsource.com

 

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Fall 2015 dates for Model Drawing BER Seminar

Bar Modeling is my Force

Best. Seminar. Comment. Ever.

Here are the just-released Fall 2015 dates for my BER seminar “Boost Students’ Math Problem-Solving Skills Using Bar Models, Tape Diagrams and Strip Models (Grades 2-6)

Save the date!

A whole day of problem-solving with Bar Modeling, Tape Diagrams and Strip Models PLUS that handbook for your own home enjoyment! (- with the answers and fully worked solutions!)

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“How to Use the Best Strategies From Singapore Mathematics to Strengthen Your Math Instruction” (BER) will have 10 dates in spring of 2016 – I’ll update when available.

Your city not on the list? Contact me and I can bring my Singapore Math® workshop(s) to your school or district – email Cassy (at) singaporemathsource.com

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Our Journey to Singapore: A Singapore Math Adoption Success Story

Beth Curran Preschool – 6th Grade Math Department Chair, St. Anne’s-Belfield School Singapore Math Teacher and Trainer

Beth Curran

For some time, I’ve wanted to share stories of schools that have successfully implemented a Singapore Math curriculum.

To present the first such case study, I asked my colleague Beth Curran to summarize the adoption process at St. Anne’s-Belfield School, an independent Pre-K to 12 school in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Please contact me if your school has a story to contribute.

 


 Our Journey to Singapore

by Beth Curran
Preschool – 6th Grade Math Department Chair, St. Anne’s-Belfield School
Singapore Math Teacher and Trainer

stab_logoIt all began with a strategic plan.  In 2011, St. Anne’s-Belfield School released its 2011-2016 Strategic Plan.  The first of six goals focused on teaching and learning in the 21st century.  Key elements to this goal included teaching with depth rather than breadth, teaching critical thinking and problem-solving skills, improving the quality of our computation, and ensuring that our pedagogy reflects researched based best practices.  The Action Plan that followed gave direct mention to Singapore Math as a curriculum to explore.

While teachers felt strongly that the students were leaving our Lower School (grades Kindergarten through four) very well prepared for Middle School (grades five through eight), we had to ask a tough question; could we be doing better?

Why Singapore Math?

As the Lower School Math Coordinator at the time, I was charged with taking a critical look at the Lower School’s current math curriculum and learning all I could about Singapore Math.  The more I learned, the more I was convinced that Singapore Math would be a great match for us.  It was almost as if the Strategic Plan was written with Singapore Math in mind.  The curriculum teaches concepts to mastery, focusing on depth rather than breadth.  Critical thinking and problem-solving are embedded within the curriculum, not taught as a stand-alone unit.  Concepts are introduced, practiced, and applied immediately to solve problems.  Computation and numeracy are also a major focus.  Check, check, and check!

Learning Village at St. Anne's-Belfield School

Learning Village at St. Anne’s-Belfield School

Not all of the homeroom teachers were as enthusiastic as I was.  It was a daunting task convincing them that learning a new math curriculum, on the tails of learning a new writing curriculum, was a good thing.  St. Anne’s-Belfield’s Head of School, being the visionary that he is, saw an opportunity to not only implement a new math curriculum, but to change the way math instruction is delivered at the Lower School level.  If we were going to ask our teachers to become Singapore Math specialists, why not hire and train dedicated math teachers?  And that’s just what he did.  Four math teachers were hired to deliver math instruction and these dedicated math specialists would co-teach math with the homeroom teacher taking on a supporting role.  This had an added benefit of cutting our student to teacher ratio in half during math class.

With the faculty in place and the Primary Mathematics materials ordered, we set out to train our dedicated math teachers in Kindergarten through sixth grade.  We contracted with Cassy Turner, Singapore Math Specialist and Trainer to work with our math teachers for an intensive one-week boot camp.  We learned the ins and outs of mental math and the bar model.  We asked questions, practiced, collaborated, practiced, designed an implementation schedule, and practiced.  Cassy’s enthusiasm and extensive knowledge left us feeling confident to tackle the upcoming year.  We knew professional development was crucial to a successful implementation and with that in mind we continued our relationship with Cassy throughout the year.  She made three more trips to the school, observing and teaching lessons and providing her guidance to keep us on track.

Successes and Challenges

Fast forward to today.  We are now a year and a half into our implementation. Our students are stronger problem-solvers than ever before.  Their computational skills have shown marked improvement.  Their overall sense of number and place value has increased.  Our students are confident and persevere through challenging problems.

We have done a lot of things really well.  We understood and placed value on professional development.  This is not a curriculum that can be picked up and taught from the Teacher’s Guides.  Most teachers did not learn math the way that a Singapore Math curriculum is taught.  Training is key.  If not trained, teachers will revert to teaching math the way they learned it.  Having a successful plan for ongoing professional development is critical to a successful implementation.

We put value on mathematics instruction at the Lower School level.  We saw the need for math specialists and took a huge financial risk to improve our instruction.

We implemented the curriculum in Kindergarten through sixth grade.  We felt so strongly about the benefits of the curriculum that we knew that even one or two years of exposure would be better than none.  This has been one of the most challenging hurdles of our implementation.  We worked with Cassy to anticipate and develop a plan for “back-teaching” missing skills.   In grades three through six, this plan guided us through our first year and fortunately, Kindergarteners through second grade students benefited from needing very minimal “back-teaching.”  Developing a relationship with a knowledgeable Singapore Math consultant is crucial.

If there was an area for improvement, it was parent communication and education.  We hosted a parent night early into the school year to give parents an overview of the curriculum and a brief introduction to some of the components that are unique to Singapore Math.  That wasn’t enough.  Parents didn’t learn math the way their children were now learning it. The focus of Singapore Math is to develop conceptual understanding before learning the mathematical steps or procedures.  Parents need to understand and support the school in teaching math this way.  Parent education is not an option; it is a requirement of a successful implementation.  In our second year, we designed a plan for parent chats spread throughout the year with topics including fact practice, mental math strategies, and bar modeling as a tool for problem-solving.  Your professional development provider or consultant can assist you in designing a parent education program that meets the needs of your school.

Our journey continues and our students are stronger math students as a result.  The first year was clearly the most challenging.  Our commitment to professional development, perseverance, and acceptance of this unfamiliar approach to teaching math has guided us and we are confident that each passing year will continue to confirm the benefits of teaching a Singapore Math curriculum.

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Seeking Singapore Math training in Hawaii?

leiAre you a school on the Big Island  that would like to take part in a two day Singapore Math training? You don’t necessarily need to be using the curriculum, just interested in supplementing or using strategies from Singapore Math.

If so, I have a school that would like to pair with with you and share the costs. They’re looking to host the two-day session sometime from the last week of July through August 5th.  If that fits your schedule and plans, email Cassy (at) singaporemathsource.com and I’ll hook you up.

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