We just came back to Boston from New York City! After a very successful session last year, we are privileged to be invited back to Columbia University Teachers College to present a Singapore Math Workshop to teacher residents. This workshop is part of TR@TC, or Teaching Residents at Teachers College, a federal-funded 18-month graduate level program designed to recruit and prepare secondary-level teachers to teach in high-need New York City schools.
Focusing on Singapore Strategies, we had a great evening discussing topics such as ways to better support students, the importance of striking a balance between conceptual understanding and procedural fluency, and the role of problem solving in our day to day classrooms.
I was amazed by the enthusiasm of the teacher residents throughout the workshop. We even decided to skip our break so we could have more “math time”! While discussing on the role of problem solving, we took this from one of our Singapore Math questions as our lead example.
This is a very “versatile” question. The answer is specially designed to be a simple round number so that the question can be attempted by students in three different stages.
The first group of students whom we usually give this problem to are the 4th graders. Without specific instructions on how to find the answers, the students usually rely on logic reasoning and Guess-and-Check to find out what B is. Students derive great satisfaction in knowing they are able to solve a problem that looks formidable at first.
For more advanced students, we introduce an intermediate method using bar-models. This provides a link between the Guess-and-Check method used by Pre-Algebra students and the formal introduction of solving the System of Linear Equations in middle schools.
The last group of students are 8th graders, who are starting to work on Systems of Linear Equations. They would apply the standard method of solving the set of equations and simultaneously derive the values of A, B and C.
We are so excited to be back and had a great time sharing our experience and learning from the teacher residents!