Singapore Math Training Sessions


(Image courtesy of Indexed.)

I’ll be presenting “How to Use Strategies from Singapore Math to Strengthen your Math Instruction” in Cincinnati on May 13, Atlanta on May 14 and in New Jersey on May 20 & 21, 2009. You can read more about these 1 day seminars and register through the Institute for Educational Development.

All seminars will be “buzzword” free!

These are the only public sessions I’ll be doing until the 2009 – 2010 school year.

Thinking about a field trip to see the world’s top-scoring math in action? There are just a few spots left for this July’s Singapore Math Summer Program.


Flash Cards designed for Singapore Math

(Whether they meant to or not!)

Here are samples from the four decks I purchased at NCTM from Dr. Frank Wang’s booth. The cards are available from (maker of the Witzzle Pro) along with some engaging free puzzles to keep your number sense on its toes.






NCTM Takeaways

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting and Exposition (NCTM) has ended and I wanted to share a few quick items regarding Singapore Math.


First off, Houghton Mifflin’s division Great Source premiered their new Singapore math series. Called Math in Focus, the textbooks are hardbound (and are heavy!) and the Teacher’s Editions appear quite comprehensive. This series looks like an American textbook series. I chatted with Patsy Kanter, one of the authors, as well as Shar Hammet, the head of the mathematics division for Houghton Mifflin, and they feel that they’ve kept the true essence of the curriculum while adding value to a classroom teacher.  I hope to procure a grade level to review and share. At each grade level, the series includes:

  • Student Book A and Student Book B
  • Workbook A and Workbook B
  • Teacher’s Edition
  • Extra Practice (Blackline Masters)
  • Assessment (Blackline Masters)
  • Reteach (Blackline Masters)
  • Enrichment (Blackline Masters)
  • Manipulatives

You can download a sample lesson from the first grade.



The Singapore Model Method for Learning Mathematics was available from the Marshall Cavendish booth and will be available next month from Written by the Ministry of Education, this book ( or monograph, as they refer to the publication) is designed to serve as a resource book on the Model Method:

The main purpose is to make explicit how the Model Method is used to develop students’ understanding of fundamental mathematics concepts and proficiency in solving basic mathematics word problems.

Although I’ve just begun reading the book, it appears to be a comprehensive overview of the Model Method and provides examples for both basic and quite challenging word problems.

The table of contents (click to enlarge):

Model Method

And a sample page 77 from Appendix A:

model method example

Finally, there were 4 presentations on Singapore Math at the NCTM:

  • Singapore Math Sixth Graders Solve Harder Problems than the Eighth-Grade NAEP by John Hoven
  • Every Child Counts, and Every Child Can Count! Strategies from Singapore Classrooms by Ban Har Yeap
  • Taking the Problem out of Word Problems with Singapore’s Model-Drawing Approach by Char Forsten
  • What’s so Good About Singapore Math – An exhibitor workshop by

ALL four Singapore Math sessions were oversubscribed, with disappointed attendees listening outside at the door. Dr. Yeap’s session saw people lining up 40 minutes beforehand to get a seat!


Challenging Word Problems series discontinued

The Singapore Math series: Primary Mathematics Challenging Word Problem from EPB Pan Pacific is being discontinued. Get your copies while you still can! According to the publisher, these books are:

“Highly recommended for capable students as a source of interesting review and challenging word problems”

If you’ve ever used the books, you know what a loss this will be to future users. While the books may be relics compared to the current Singapore Syllabus, one can’t help wonder if the changes in the “Teach Less, Learn More” syllabus in Singapore haven’t contributed to the country’s ever so slight drop on the most recent TIMSS. may have most books in the series available through summer, although it sounds like Primary 3 is in short supply.

For your problem-solving enjoyment, here’s a sample from the end of the Primary 6 book – Challenging level:

Cindy had four times as many postcards as Annie. After Cindy gave 20% of her postcards to Jane and Annie gave 10% of her postcards to Jane, the number of Jane’s postcards increased by 75%. If Jane had 252 postcards in the end, how many postcards did Cindy have at first?

Have fun!

(Cross-posted at Kitchen Table Math – The Sequel)

Grade 4 Word Problem

An interesting word problem was recently posted at the SingaporeMath Yahoo group. The original poster wrote for help solving it without algebra and mentioned that it was from the Primary 4 books. This seems a little advanced compared to the problems in the text and workbooks. I believe the problem could be from the Challenging Word problems series, which provides answers only.

There are 285 teachers and students in the hall. 5/6 of the students and 1/3 of the teachers went out of the hall. There is an equal number of students and teachers left in the hall. How many teachers were there in the hall at first?

If 5/6 of the students and 1/3 of the teachers went out, there would be 1/6 of the students and 2/3 of the teachers left in the hall.

Begin with the end result:


2/3 of the amount of teachers is equal to 1/6 of the amount of students. For every unit of students, there are 2 units of teachers.

Then let’s work back to how many there were at first:


There are 285 people divided into 15 units.
285 ÷ 15 = 19 people per unit.

There were 3 units of 19, or 57 teachers in the hall at first.

Then, to check out work, let’s find out how many students there were at first.
12 units x 19 people in each = 128 students

128 students + 57 teachers = 285 teachers and students were in the hall at first.

How can you extend the problem?