Math in Focus is the U.S. version of the math curriculum taught in Singapore. Students in Singapore consistently score at the top of international mathematics comparison studies such as the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and PISA (Program for International Student Assessment). The Singapore Math pedagogy was also one of the key research models used to guide the development of the Common Core State Standards. The following diagram shows the philosophy of the teachings of Singapore Math:
The center of the program revolves around mathematical problem-solving. All skills, processes and concepts develop problem-solving attitude and understanding. Students grow as thinkers as well as mathematicians.
Singapore Math teaches concepts using a concrete-to-pictorial-to-abstract learning progression, which anchors learning in real-world, hands-on experiences. The goal is to develop deep understanding through visualization. Manipulatives are a constant in the classroom, and teachers use them to demonstrate the concepts being taught. Examples include number bonds, 10 frames, place chips and charts, and bar models.
A typical lesson begins with making connections to previously learned concepts, learning something new through instruction and exploration, guided practicing of many levels of problems sets, and finally, independent problem solving. This process can take two to three days, because the students are studying for mastery. A parent may see, or hear about, some of the following:
- Teaching of the lesson – Direct instruction and exploration of the concept.
- Guided practice – Activities and practice with support from the teacher. Students are gradually led from the pictorial to the abstract.
- Let's practice – Simple to complex problems created to determine if students are ready to progress to independence. During this practice, teachers may address any reteaching necessary or establish enrichment groups.
- Workbook – Independent practice to create fluency and accuracy.
- Extra practice "homework" – Reinforces all the teachings of the lesson.