Singapore Math at St. Anne's Episcopal School
Singapore Math does more than just teach kids math; it helps them to communicate, listen and respect each other.
In a world in which our mobile devices can access answers faster than we can compute them, how do we equip our children for the future? Students must have strong problem solving, critical thinking, communication and collaborative skills to prepare for secondary education and a future of yet-to-be invented careers. Singapore Math develops all of these skills in children, along with the highest level of foundational mathematics in the world. St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Middletown, DE, has made teaching this method a priority since the fall of 2016.
Singapore Math is a research-based method of teaching known for its emphasis on depth and process over memorization and drill work. It reinforces the life lesson that there is more than one way to solve a problem. The Singapore Math approach has caught the attention of many around the world because Singapore consistently ranks at the top of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessments of global achievement in mathematics and science.
One of the defining features of Singapore math is visualization. Students are introduced to three methods of application: concrete, pictorial and abstract. These methods underscore real-world applications of math and help develop children’s desire to solve problems on their own.
Students must also work collaboratively with their peers to problem solve. In this way Singapore Math also teaches children to communicate, to listen and to respect their classmates. These critical life skills help children learn teamwork and how to navigate and build positive relationships in life.
The program at St. Anne’s was initially launched in Kindergarten through Second Grade with the help of a grant from the Longwood Foundation and the guidance of Sarah Schaefer, M.Ed., an international expert in Singapore Math and principal of M4thodology. Now in its second year, the program includes Third and Fourth Grade students. Feedback on the new approach has been great:
“Finding the answer is just one small piece of the puzzle,” explains Valerie White, director of curriculum and instruction at St. Anne’s. “What is more important is the ability to think critically and understand the ‘why’ behind the solution. When we press kids to think more deeply and demonstrate understanding of the concept or skill, we are extending their learning to create true mastery.”
“What has been happening in the classrooms here is really exciting,” says first grade teacher Melissa Meier. “Because we use the Singapore Math approach to teach place value, our students have a deeper understanding of numbers and how they relate to each other. My first graders this year have stronger number sense, which is the foundation of all mathematics.” First grade teacher Tara Ligouri and Meier are also collaborating with educators on a national pilot project for Singapore Math materials.
John Burk, director of academic innovation, physics, mathematics and computer science at St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, DE, notes, “As a high school math and science teacher, I see daily that the most successful students are the ones who develop a flexible approach to problem-solving, are willing to seek out more than one way to solve a problem and embrace the creative exploration that is integral to math and science.
“As a kindergarten parent, I am thrilled that my daughter is learning to approach math in a playful and creative way that is helping her develop a joyful approach to learning math, grounded in deep understanding that will serve her throughout her education,” he adds.
St. Anne’s Episcopal School is a co-ed independent day school for children in Preschool (age 3) through Grade 8 that focuses on academic excellence and spiritual growth in a small, family-oriented and diverse community.