## Singapore - Is it spiral? Mastery? Is there review?

kellybell
Posts: 475
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 2:40 pm

### Singapore - Is it spiral? Mastery? Is there review?

Singapore - Is it spiral??
Rives wrote:I'm just about to decide on Singapore Math for my 2nd grader and had a last minute thought -- I am a little concerned about her forgettting a concept after it has been covered and wondered if Singapore covers topics later after they have already been taught. Also if supplementing another math, like say Miquon or something would be advisable?? I have had a terrible time making up my mind on a math program, but think I've finally decided to trust MFW and go with Singapore. Thanks for your input.
Rives
Although we're not using Singapore (we started with another program before MFW recommended Singapore), I agree that it's a good idea to just pick ONE program and stick with it. You don't need two total math programs. It's common to add some drill work (Quarter Mile, flash cards, or math windows), but don't do two programs. That's overkill.

Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).

Sue in MN
Yes, they cover topics again but the review may not be enough for some dc. My son needed more review. You can add the extra review if needed or use a different curriculum that contains more review. It is just one of those things where you have to decide what will work best for you.

Julie in MN
Posts: 2915
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

### Re: Singapore Math -- is it spiral??

Rives,
I have heard Singapore called spiral, and I have heard it called the opposite of spiral (mastery? incremental?). The SingaporeMath web site says it is neither.

Singapore introduces skills in small increments, which sounds like a "spiral" program. However, "mastery" is expected and even needed for advancement to the next skill. (You can't move on to evaluating whether 5/7 or 6/9 is the larger fraction until you have totally mastered the understanding that 1/5 is SMALLER than 1/4.) The skill you learned yesterday is not re-taught per se, but it is still needed for solving tomorrow's word problems.

This is one of the things I really like about Singapore -- the skills are simply *used*. For example, word problems in level 3 may require the student to first add two groups of items, and then divide them by the number of people using them. Voila! You have just reviewed addition and division!

So review is built in by *using* the skill - either in mastering the next higher level or in solving the next 2-step word problems. Review is NOT by random computation problems rotated ad nauseum, or by re-teaching the skill over & over.

And not to worry -- Singapore does have review pages quite often. Oh, and SingaporeMath also sells tons of extra workbooks if more problems (of any sort) are needed.

Julie
Last edited by Julie in MN on Fri Jul 07, 2006 1:18 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Fly2Peace
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:36 pm
I just wanted to share this example of how the concept is taught, and that really is the heart of Singapore in my opinion, is that it teaches the math concepts...

We "touched" briefly on multiplication this year. It was kind of a here is what it is, this is how it works... more of a conceptual intro. We did not do multiplication problems, or work on the tables at all. Yet, when dd took her standardized testing, that conceptual intro was enough that she was able to answer some of the multiplication problems correctly by applying the concept. We will cover multiplication much more at some point. I haven't looked to see when.

It is recommended that you have some sort of drill work. Most programs probably need some, unless it is built into the program itself.
Fly2Peace (versus flying to pieces)

Rives
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 8:39 pm
THanks so much for all of your input. I have agonized over this math decision and with so many choices out there it is hard to actually choose one. Anyway, I think we will go ahead and give Singapore a try and see how it goes.
Thanks so much.
Mother to Rosemary 8, Stuart 6, and Dorothy 4

cbollin

### Is each concept covered thoroughly before moving on?

4littlehearts wrote:How many new concepts are taught in a lesson? If there is one concept or less, do they go over it thoroughly before moving on to a more advanced concept or a new concept? I was thinking in the Levels 1-3. Thanks!
It is not expected that you linger on a lesson until 100% mastery is achieved. Example -- in book 1A, in one of the chapters you will learn math facts (number bonds in Singapore). You do not linger and stall out waiting for the child to learn each and every one before you go to the next day's lesson. You will drill every day.

Each chapter has several days worth of lessons. Most lessons cover one thing at a time and the next day's lesson builds on it. So you don't learn too many ways on the same day.

-crystal

Julie in MN
Posts: 2915
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota
A while back, I posted a copy of the Singapore table of contents from one level here:
http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?t=4238

That might help you see how a book is organized into several main topics, often broken down into parts.

To me, looking back over the years, Singapore never sat in one place for a long time. We were always learning something a little new. However, the skills were being continually reinforced in many ways...

- Some skills just build upon one another. Single digit skills are used when learning double digit skills. Addition is used when learning subtraction or multiplication.

- Some skills are embedded into other skills. Measuring requires learning weights and measures, but also requires the use of basic operations like addition & subtraction.

- Singapore word problems are written to require use of several math skills and so include built-in review. This is definitely a strength of Singapore, and it really shows the child how math is used in real life, not just on workbook pages.

- Reviews and practices are included throughout Singapore. Those will cover all previous skills, back even to previous levels. By years 5 and 6, there are TONS of reviews.

Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

cbollin

### Re: Singapore math or what???

4littlehearts wrote:This current school year (2009-2010) my son started using Singapore Math 2A and 2B in 3rd grade after finishing up ABeka 2 in 2nd grade, so that he could get used to Singapore's wording and the difference in the Singapore program in general. Towards the end of the year, in the middle of 2B, I kind of became frustrated because it seemed that my ds was having a hard time retaining their methods of figuring out a problem due to the mastery set-up of the program. Because of this I picked up some Christian Light Light units. Ds likes CLE better but I am still unsure whether I should just pick up the Singapore again. I really would like him to understand math and I feel that if I stick it out in Singapore it will pay off in the end. If I work with him a little into the summer he would be on target to finish 5B by the end of 6th grade. What to do???

I wish that Singapore had more review and I did not find the practice books to be enough or maybe it was the set up. Ds seems to retain better with a spiral kind of program. Part of me wonders if Singapore is somewhat overrated. Maybe kids at this age who do not totally understand every facet of math, regardless of what program they use, will one day understand math better due to maturity. I know I have a much better understanding of math than I did when I was younger even though I was taught with more of a rote drilling kind of math program. Any thoughts???
I don't think Singapore is a "mastery" program really. Not to the extent of some of them on the market. Many of the concepts are reviewed constantly along the way and are new applications of concepts are there. It is not spiral either. It is more incremental approach. singapore just doesn't fit in the standard categories.

I really like Singapore math in elementary years. I like to encourage people who are in Singapore to continue. I also like to be creative and share what I do to make it work in my house with my slow to average (blonde) daughter. Maybe some thing I do will help someone out there. that's why I type. If you feel that Singapore isn't the right program, that's ok too. You may use whatever math you think you should. It is not a requirement to use Singapore while using MFW curriculum.

I think what I see is that I tend to do math alongside my elementary children in order to help them know what to do when they get confused. Some kids (regardless of program) need more guidance, or need a quick hint -- hey, that would be a good problem to try this way. Part of teaching means I know what they have learned to that point and can remind them. You should certainly be encouraged to help remind your child. We do that in all aspects of life "wash your hands. say your prayer. stop kicking your sister. cover your mouth. seat belt on/ Use a napkin. flush". So why shouldn't we remind our students how to try a mental math problem or help them know the steps to take to set up a bar diagram until they do it on their own? It's just like that in my classes that I take as an adult. My instructor reminds me.

maybe, that's how your child feels. a little frustrated that he needed a tiny bit of help, but not sure how to ask.... or maybe you feel as a teacher like I do as a student --- don't pressure me on the fast track! I crack!

but.... my dear jazzy instructor said "ok... let's slow it down a bit... back to the basics. try again.... get some rest. see you tomorrow. don't give up. basically telling me "chill on it Crystal. You're doing fine. let's practice after class."

so how that apply to your situation in teaching Math?

Are you doing some kind of "drill" with number bonds on the side?
Have you just tried to get the Home Instructor's Guide to use with Singapore?
Are you verbally cueing your students to help them on the way? (see... everything I needed to learn about being a homeschooling mommy, I'm learning while training to be a group exercise instructor)
yes, some kids might need a quick cue to be reminded --- oh yeah, I remember that now..

Singapore is a very high quality math program. I don't think it is "over rated". It has the international test stats to back it up. It has the placement tests when kids switch to show that numbers of books don't necessarily mean the same as other grades in other programs. The strength of the word problems and the thinking skills are really good. That's almost an understatement of it. Does that mean that it is the only program anyone should use? Probably not. Does it mean that you will "ruin" your kid with another program. Probably not.

But just because your student hit a few normal slow down points, doesn't mean that he has to stop Singapore altogether.
It's a tough program. You can get some other practice books (not the intensive practice ones...... just the Extra Practice ones -- check Rainbow Resources or your local teacher supply store). There are helps out there to use in Singapore math if needed even if MFW doesn't sell them.

I don't know if you should or shouldn't switch. I just know many of us here have good experiences with it and would love to help you succeed with it too.

Keep going! smile.
-crystal

4littlehearts
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:05 pm

### Re: Singapore math or what???

Thanks Crystal, I think I am getting what you're saying. It will take time and slowly he should be able to master these concepts but over a span of time with practice. Is that what you are getting at? Sorry my mind is a little slow today with it being a Saturday and all.

I think as a mom I want him to do VERY well in a program and when I see that he is doing average or okay, that just doesn't sit well with me especially because in my mind I still have it that he is a year behind using Singapore because he is working in 2A and 2B in the 3rd grade instead of using 3A and 3B, also I am still regretting the fact that I kept him back a grade, so he could have been in 5th grade this Fall instead of 4th. I also do miss the tests found in other programs.

I do use flashcards with him for his multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction. He pretty much has his basic math facts down pat,except for the multiplication facts and division facts that were not taught yet in Singapore. Maybe it is just that for him at this point CLE seems so easy for him, although he is working below level in there as well, and that, well just makes it easier for me. Not the best, maybe. I know I should not choose a curriculum based upon the ease of use for the student or the parent, especially when it comes to math. Thanks for your help! Happy Mom's Day to you as well!

Julie in MN
Posts: 2915
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

### Re: Singapore math or what???

Hi there,
I agree with both of you that there are lots of math programs out there. Your child won't be ruined as long as you work on his math skills consistently. But like Crystal, I've used several programs and I do feel Singapore's worth the effort. I mean, I think it's logical that you question whether something's overrated, but I want to weigh in on the "no" answer to that question My son has taken standardized tests every year from 3rd to 8th. I sometimes have helped give the tests to some of the younger grades. One section of the math test is on drill and one is more thinking problems. When it comes to the thinking problems, I personally have the belief that I can identify kids who use Singapore by the way they jump right in. I could be wrong, but that's my personal view

As I read through your post, I just have some random thoughts. If you have more particular questions about specific problems in Singapore, I'm sure we could help you tackle those, too.

1. Math is going to have bumps in the road. As another mom told my son recently, "If you're able to whiz through your Algebra lesson in less than an hour, then you're not working at a hard enough level of math for you." Now, I'm not a big pusher, and ds doesn't always spend an hour on math, but the idea is that it's got to be a little hard sometimes in order to make significant progress.

2. Each child is different, but my son often gets overwhelmed with a new math concept. It just takes time to sink in. Eventually, I know he'll say it's "way easy," but at first he just needs to "dwell" for a while. When he was younger, I would pause by doing things such as using a second math program or focusing on drill for a while (both of which you've done, as well). Sometimes when he was on pause, I'd throw in one "hard" problem each day; sometimes I wouldn't. Sometimes I'd wait until he expressed an interest in going back to the main program; sometimes I'd just decide it's time for him to get going. Honestly, he still does this in 8th grade with some of the "big" Algebra concepts. But I'm so grateful that we homeschool, because by doing this, my very non-competitive youngest son has really excelled. He tests well and has even done well in some math competitions this year.

3. Singapore math, and math in general, builds upon itself. In the younger years, there are going to be some things the kids don't completely "get" or things they forget. There is even going to be a problem or two that's thrown in as a challenge for the kids who are ready. I know those kinds of things put me off balance at first, but now I see that I shouldn't have worried about every last detail. By about level 5 in Singapore, kids will be applying all of their skills often.

4. The biggest thing to me in Singapore levels 1-4 is exposure. Even if you just use it as a supplement by talking through the workbook pictures in levels 1-4, I think it has benefit. It's not until late in level 4 or definitely level 5 that you really "must" use the Singapore techniques in order to solve problems. Before that, you expose the child but often he doesn't really need to "use" the techniques to get the answers. By the way, don't press your child to use any particular technique in solving problems. The idea with Singapore is that there are many techniques. At some point, the child will recognize that he needs to dig out a different tool because otherwise he can't solve the problem

5. Like another thread was mentioning today, the reviews in the textbook can be done together -- orally or on a marker board. I found those to be an opportunity to "watch my child think." Remember when the classroom teacher had different kids come up to the blackboard? That's when the teacher can see what needs more teaching. The child may be understanding everything except one tiny piece of the puzzle and when that is put in place, "Voila! I think he's got it!"

Well, I can never be brief. I hope something in there is helpful
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

4littlehearts
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:05 pm

### Re: Singapore math or what???

Julie in MN wrote:4.
Before that, you expose the child but often he doesn't really need to "use" the techniques to get the answers. By the way, don't press your child to use any particular technique in solving problems. The idea with Singapore is that there are many techniques. At some point, the child will recognize that he needs to dig out a different tool because otherwise he can't solve the problem
I needed to hear that Julie. When he approaches a problem I expect him to always solve it the "Singapore way." To me their way seems more logical. Like for instance, 39+99=___, to me it would be easier to take the a 1 away from 39 and give it to 99 to make 100 and then add 38+100=138. My son chooses however to add it in his brain doing all of the carrying, adding the ones and carrying the one over to the tens and then adding the tens. He seems to line up the numbers vertically in his brain and figures it out. Actually he has become quite fast at this process. Used to be he had to copy each problem down vertically on a piece of paper first. Things like that. So I just let him do it his way for now, am I right?

I do see the benefit in Singapore because, even I have to stop and think about his little story problems before answering them. I do like the way they change the wording up a bit to cause the child to have to think each time they approach a story problem. I also like it because the math lesson at this point doesn't take him excessively long unless he is really struggling with his focus or with some concept that day. Abeka took quite a bit of time for us, and I have heard that Saxon can be very long.

cbollin

### Re: Singapore math or what???

4littlehearts wrote:Thanks Crystal, I think I am getting what you're saying. It will take time and slowly he should be able to master these concepts but over a span of time with practice. Is that what you are getting at?
yeah. that's it. I got a little weird on that answer. I tell you though.... all of a sudden being a student again has given me a lot of fresh insights into teaching my own students. From feeling overwhelmed with new vocabulary in a thick textbook, to learning routines and how to be comfortable in front of people..... it's all new insight into what my kids are feeling in school too. But as David Hazell once wrote "some times it is patience, not frustration, that wins the battle." ok... he was talking phonics, but it applies to anything in life, doesn't it?

Singapore 2A and 2B is "3rd grade level" compared to starting places in other programs. you know how I get -- rambling with stories... well... my oldest did another program's entire elementary math sequence (K-6th) and finished it in middle of 5th grade. She tested only into 4B of Singapore. How did I feel? weirded out honestly. She finished another program's 6th grade and tested in 4B? hmm...and this my kid who just got an A in algebra in 8th grade in Saxon. so don't let the book numbers get you down.

maybe working in CLE books even if it is below level like you said -- maybe the break and review was just enough to help him go forward.

Here's neat testimony that David shared a while back...http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php ... 91&#p36291
It talks about a mom who changed her kid to singapore in late 5th grade and started at 2A.....
• Quick testimony.
Today at the Ohio Convention I met a mom and her now 6th grader. Last year the child was in 5th grade and hated math. Everything they did was stressful. He made the switch to Singapore and tested back in 2A. Now in 18 months the child is finishing up 6a and 6b. He loves math and they are moving on Saxon 87.
FYI. Singapore works best when children are placed properly. Backing up can be the best thing that one can do the help a child move forward.
Blessings David
4littlehearts wrote: When he approaches a problem I expect him to always solve it the "Singapore way." To me their way seems more logical. Like for instance, 39+99=___, to me it would be easier to take the a 1 away from 39 and give it to 99 to make 100 and then add 38+100=138. My son chooses however to add it in his brain doing all of the carrying, adding the ones and carrying the one over to the tens and then adding the tens. He seems to line up the numbers vertically in his brain and figures it out. Actually he has become quite fast at this process. Used to be he had to copy each problem down vertically on a piece of paper first. Things like that. So I just let him do it his way for now, am I right?
I do it that way.

That describes my middle gal. She'd line them up, and do all of that. Then, sometimes, after she got all of the right answers, I'd go back and out loud would model it as "cool. here's another way to think about it" and do the 100 + 38 thing. Eventually, one day, she surprised me and sometimes would do it that way and tell me "I can just see that answer, do I have to write on top of each other?"

sweet! then sometimes she says "it will just be quicker if I write it down". sometimes her brain doesn't see it.

-crystal

s_duguid
Posts: 55
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2008 5:45 am
Location: Albany, NY

### Re: Singapore math or what???

cbollin wrote:
4littlehearts wrote: So I just let him do it his way for now, am I right?
I do it that way.

-crystal
That's us, too! My daughter at first wanted to do all the carrying in her head. Surprisingly, this past week she was looking at a problem with 98 and said, "Oh, I can make that a 100 and take away 2." This is 2 years later, and she remembered this as an option!

I just posted on another Singapore topic about our Singapore "journey." Maybe it could help?? http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=9056
Sue, married 20 years and mother to 3 (only homeschooling one):
TJ (18), college sophomore
Drew (17), high school senior
Victoria (12) starting 1850-MOD in fall
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