Bright Ideas - Singapore Math

I'm joining up with some AMAZING bloggers for a Bright Ideas blog hop!

Singapore Math.  Perhaps you have heard about these new strategies for teaching math.  But perhaps you are like me and have heard of it, but wasn't too sure what it was.

This past Friday I flew to Honolulu with one of my grade level partners to attend a Singapore Math workshop from BER.  It was so great! It was officially called "How to Use the Best Strategies from Singapore Mathematics to Strengthen your Math Instruction". Here is the framework that was in our participant packet:

Our presenter, Cassy Turner, told us that just like we ask kids to read for 15 minutes a night to build fluency, we should be asking them to do math fact practice to build fact fluency, as well.  In order to do that, we learned some fun Mental Math strategies:

  • Magic Thumb - Say, "When I point up, count up.  When I point down, count down."  Start at zero and students can count in multiples of 2, 3, 4, whatever.  Kids will be good at first, but when you point down, they will have to think and it won't become just a regular skip counting activity.  It will keep them on their toes! To make it harder, start at a random number, like 24, and count up by 3's.  
  • Number Strings - This is a fun way for kids to practice math mentally and also explain their thinking and find out where their math went wrong.  Have kids solve and follow your verbal instructions in their heads, then write their ending solution on a whiteboard to hold up and show you.  This is such an easy formative assessment in the classroom and a great warm up for math class.  Can you figure out this number string in your head?
  • Math Sprints - This is a way to re-think the Mad Math Minute! Give all kids the same sheet of math facts.  They should get harder towards the end.  Tell kids that they won't finish, the point is to improve, not finish.  Time the kids for a minute, then go over the answers together and kids write the number they got on top.  Give them another one, and tell them the point is to beat their last score.  Do everything again, go over the answers, and celebrate the kids who made progress (it should be everyone!).  Then, instead of collecting these for a grade, have them crumple the papers up, walk around with a trash can, and each kids can throw their paper away.  It's not about a grade, finishing, or even doing better than your neighbor, it's about personal improvement.  Walk around and take note of how many problems the kids did - this is your formative assessment.  I LOVE this strategy, because I have several kids who get anxious during fact fluency tests.  This will make it fun, less stressful, and easy for ALL kids to be successful.  Here's a link to some official directions for Math Sprints
Via Amazon
Want to learn more? Here is a great article from the New York Times to check out and also this article from Newsweek.

***************** Good News!! *****************
Cassy Turner, my Singapore Math trainer, commented below and said if any of my awesome readers wanted samples of Math Sprints or Number Strings, to just email her and she'll send them on over!  Her email is Cassyt {at} gmail {dot} com.  Thank you Cassy!  
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Hop on over to Sally's blog and read all about Ten Tips for Helping Learning Stick!

20 comments

  1. Seriously you are my 4th hop and I now have FOUR wonderful ideas!!! I love the number strings and the sprints... thanks for these GREAT IDEAS!!!!

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    1. I'm so glad that you can use some of these strategies!

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  2. I absolutely LOVE these ideas! Fantastic! :)

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  3. I am so interested in Singapore Math. We are going to be adopting a new curriculum, and hope that our District will give Singapore Math a look. Love ALL of these ideas, and will be trying them out next week. Thanks so much.

    Nicole
    Mrs. Rios Teaches Second Grade

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    1. You are so welcome! I wish my school would be adopting a new math curriculum. The one we have does not teach conceptually, like Singapore Math does.

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  4. Your post made interested in learning more about Singapore Math! My second graders really need these skills!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

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  5. In Vegas there was a Singapore Math conference last year...now I kind of wish I had signed up lol.
    Journey of a Substitute Teacher

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  6. We are using Singapore Math this year, and I love it! Thanks so much for sharing these ideas! Love the paper throw-away idea!! Your blog looks great!
    XO
    Laura
    Peace, Love, and First Grade

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    1. Thanks Laura! Didn't Tessa do an amazing job! I love it so much!

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  7. I need to look into Singapore Math more and i love these terrific ideas!

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  8. Hi Nicole,

    I had a similar training and took away some great ideas, too! I play the 'Magic Thumb' game, except I have my kids use both hands, palms out (like raiding the roof). My kids love it so much! They smile the entire time we do it and get excited to tell me what we should count by. I just love math games that put a smile on kids' faces :-)

    Elizabeth
    Seconds at the Beach

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    1. We'll have to compare notes and help each other out! I love your modification!

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  9. Love the idea of Number Strings! That one was hard for me to do! :) Thanks for sharing these great ideas!

    Katie :)
    KTP: Keep Teaching and Planning!

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    1. I'm not going to lie, my brain hurt by the end of the training after all the math we did!

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  10. Greetings Nicole - So glad to hear you enjoyed the session! If your readers email me, I'm happy to share some sample sprints and number strings. If your brain hurt, it must be growing!

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    1. Thank you so much, Cassy! I just updated my post with your email. I'm sure my readers will appreciate your help!

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