We have found that the Singapore Math Model is best aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Math. To support this model, we implement Math in Focus in our school. Common Core standards call for a new level of rigor, depth, and coherence that will prepare our students to compete successfully in college and in the modern workforce. Singapore math’s effective framework parallels the big ideas in the Common Core.
We have found great benefits in using this model. It is research-based and focuses on classroom learning, discussion, and practice. It anchors learning in real-world, hands-on experiences and establishes foundational independent, problem-solving skills. This approach ensures mastery of more complex math concepts and develops the ability for students to monitor their own thinking through the use of a concrete-pictorial-abstract learning progression. Students learn the ‘why’ behind math concepts before they learn the ‘how,’ which allows teachers to teach to mastery.
Math in Focus is intentionally designed to prioritize critical math concepts and help students attain, then retain, the best understanding possible. A great deal of attention is placed on the order in which math concepts are taught at each grade level, and the amount of time spent on each concept. Math in Focus uses the bar modeling method as a problem-solving tool that is taught explicitly beginning in Grade 2. Students become familiar with this systematic way to translate complex word problems into mathematical equations and avoid the common issue of not knowing where to start. Struggling Learners spend more of their experience in the concrete phase, with manipulatives and visuals to aid their learning. Reteach provides more exposure to concepts for these students who may need more time to master new skills/concepts. While enrichment exercises of varying complexity provide advanced students opportunities to extend learning.
Each lesson follows this format: Direct Instruction, Guided Practice, Hands-On Activity, Let’s Practice, and Independent Practice. Lessons in Math in Focus sketch through multiple days to ensure mastery is being achieved. There is no longer a new lesson taught every day.