Exciting Math News (even if it’s not Singaporean)

Here’s the Proof that Math is Hot These Days 

In a contribution to the Washington Post, Dominic Basulto says that Maryam Mirzakhani could do for mathematics what astronaut Sally Ride did for space travel: give young girls a role model for someone they’d like to be when they grow up.  The 37-year-old Iranian-born Mirzakhani, a professor of mathematics at Stanford, has been awarded the 2014 Fields Medal–the most prestigious honor in mathematics.

Here is a New York Times article on Mirzakhani’s award.

Kids’ brains reorganize when learning math skills

Stanford University research funded by the National Institutes of Health explains how the brain reorganizes itself as kids learn math.

Healthy children start making that switch between counting to what’s called fact retrieval when they’re 8 years old to 9 years old, when they’re still working on fundamental addition and subtraction. How well kids make that shift to memory-based problem-solving is known to predict their ultimate math achievement.

“Experience really does matter,” said Dr. Kathy Mann Koepke of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the research.

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Northport Elementary builds Critical Thinking with Math AND the Arts

Here’s an outstanding school I work with that is doing wonderful things with Singapore Mathematics…and now the Arts!

 I’ll share more about what these stellar students achieved in mathematics in coming weeks!

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Seattle School Board rejects enVision Math, adopts Math in Focus

Seattle Public Schools logoAt its June 4, 2014 meeting, the Seattle School Board voted 4-3 to adopt Math in Focus as its math curriculum for K-5 schools starting in the 2014-2015 school year.

Math in Focus is adapted from Singapore’s My Pals are Here Maths for the North American market.

Previously, most of Seattle’s schools 59 elementary schools had used Everyday Mathematics.

A Math Adoption Committee (MAC) reviewed many options and recommended  the adoption of enVision Math from Pearson.

The Committee discounted Math in Focus because it wasn’t aligned to the Common Core State Standards and had a higher cost than enVision.

For many years, a community-wide, grass roots coalition has pushed for consideration of Singapore Math® materials in Seattle. One Seattle school, Seattle’s Schmitz Park Elementary, has successfully used Primary Mathematics under a waiver of District requirements for many years.

On June 4, several school board members justified their support for Math in Focus rather than enVision by citing:

  • the program’s clarity and rigor,
  • how its visual approach works for struggling readers and English language learners,
  • backing from teachers and the community, and
  • their view that Math in Focus was worth the higher price.

The Board considered, but rejected, a proposal for a dual adoption of both enVision and Math in Focus. Ultimately, the Board voted to adopt Math in Focus on a 4-3 vote.

Interested in reading or hearing/watching more? Here are some links to coverage of the Seattle School Board’s decision:

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Singapore Maths Coming to Australia!

australian_flagIn a series of recent stories, The Australian newspaper highlights the success of Singapore’s students on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam and describes the value of its curriculum.

The paper cited a report by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority that compared the Singapore and Australian curriculums. It found Singapore schools spent about twice as much time on basic operations and geometry in the first few years of school and had a greater focus on problem solving (from “A lesson learnt…” see below)

The Australian then reports that Scholastic Australia will be publishing a new set of textbooks based on the Singapore model that, “enable children to gain a deeper and better understanding of mathematical content and ways of working.”

Here is an article and an editorial from The Australian:

Kids get Asian lesson in maths

The Australian, April 12, 2014:

Schools in Australia will be able to teach maths Singapore-style with the release next month of primary textbooks that set out the teaching methods responsible for taking Singaporean students to the top of international tests.

A lesson learnt from Singapore

In an editorial on April 15, 2014, The Australian was encouraged by the forthcoming release of new textbooks based on the Singapore model. To be published by Scholastic Australia, the texts will be linked to the Australian curriculum and endorsed by the Singapore Ministry of Education.

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Singapore Math® News and Views

number bondsThe Singapore Math® program recently has been in the news in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Several articles focus on the results of the 2012 Programme for International ­Student Assessment (PISA) which was released in December.

Can the Singapore method help your children learn maths?

Shortly after the results of the PISA exam were announced in December, BBC Skillwise ran a piece that explained some of the features of math in Singapore:

Singapore teaches maths better than most countries including the UK, according to international rankings for secondary pupils.

The difference starts at an early age.

There are many reasons but one key factor is its step-by-step approach that can be used at home or in the classroom.

Canada urged to demand same standards in education as in hockey

From the Calgary Herald, February 19, 2014: Sliding scores in math, science, literacy spark alarm.

Canada’s former deputy prime minister, John Manley, spoke at a symposium focused on Alberta’s ongoing Inspiring Education during the Sochi Winter Olympics. Manley, who now serves as president and CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, asked:

“How can we be satisfied with 13th place in math when we’re not satisfied with second place in hockey?”

Whitby school borrows ‘world-best’ teaching methods

The Toronto Star reports that students at the Trafalgar Castle School in Whitby, Ontario, are learning math the Singapore way.

Headmaster Adam de Pencier is pursuing the “world best” curriculum  by cherry-picking the leading teaching methods from around the globe:

“If we believe curriculum drives a school, shouldn’t we try to choose the best curriculum, whether it’s from Whitby, Walla Walla, or Wellington?” asked de Pencier, who had math teacher Jessica Semkin train in Singapore math last summer.

Semkin said the Singapore approach “slows down the pace of learning to make sure there is a mastery of skills. With Singapore math, we spent about two weeks on multiplying fractions, instead of a day or two, and then coming back to it later.”

Gill St. Bernard school receives a visit from Singapore math leader

Nine years ago, Gill St. Bernard School piloted the Singapore Math® curriculum in second grade. It quickly expanded; by 2005, the curriculum was in use throughout the Lower and Middle school.

When Lower School Director Peggy Campbell-Rush visited Singapore in 2012, she met Yeap Ban Har, Ph.D, an internationally recognized Singapore math leader. On April 16, 2014, Dr. Ban Har visited Gill St. Bernard School to conduct professional development for the school’s K-6 teachers.

Finally, an OPINION piece that urges consideration of a more rigorous math curricula such as that used in Singapore:

Save kids from Fuzzy Math

A February 3, 2014, New York Post Opinion piece by Naomi Schaefer Riley, includes this revelation:

The education establishment frowns on anything so simple as adopting the methods of high-performing countries…[I]t insists we spend decades and millions of dollars to evaluate each one.


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