MATH DEPARTMENT OVERVIEW
The benefits of teaching Mathematics through problem solving includes allowing deep understanding to develop, connecting school mathematics to real world and allowing students to become engaged in and successful at Mathematics(Hensberry and Jacobbe, 2012).
In PHPPS, we seek to develop the five components in each of our students through our school based curriculum. In addition, we also engage students with learning experiences that link real life applications and authentic tasks to create a greater and deeper connection and interest in students’ Mathematics learning.
In alignment to our school’s initiative to develop students to thrive in the VUCA world, the Mathematics department has embarked on Howard Gardner’s 5 MINDS for the Future for our P5 and P6 students. Going beyond their classroom problem solving routines, students are exposed to the application of mathematics in the real world context while engaging the 5 Minds in various problem solving processes. The engagement of the 5 MINDS will promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of the foundational Mathematical concepts as well as that in the application of Mathematics in the complex world. It helps students make sense of their learning and better relate their knowledge and its application to real-life experiences.
The application of Mathematics is found in many and various aspects of life. It goes beyond learning the four operations of numbers, identifying shapes and patterns, and solving problem sums. Developmentally, students need to be exposed to CPA approach and hand-on activities to make learning fun, relevant, appropriate and motivated in the initial years of Mathematics learning.
1. Concrete Pictorial Abstract (CPA) approach
The CPA approach, based on research by psychologist Jerome Bruner, states that there are three steps essential for students to develop understanding of a concept. By going back and forth between these three states will allow for reinforcement in students’ learning.
a. Concrete representation (enactive stage)– a student is first introduced to an idea or a skill by acting it out with real objects or manipulatives. This is the foundational basis for conceptual understanding.
b. Pictorial representation (iconic stage) –once a student has adequately grasped the hands-on experiences, he/she can now relate these experiences to representations, such as a diagram or picture of the problem.
c. Abstract representation (symbolic stage)– the student is now capable of representing problems by using mathematical notation.
2. Mathematics hands-on activities are carried out to help students relate mathematical understanding to real-life experiences through authentic tasks. At lower primary, students do Mathematics journal writing to share and reflect on their learning experiences. Weekly mental sums and Mathematics vocabulary spelling are administered to improve students’ mathematical skills and understanding of key mathematical vocabulary.Through acquiring the skills in mental calculation, students will be able to use it as an alternative mode to check the accuracy of their solutions. The learning of key mathematical words bridges the gap from Math as an abstract concept to one that has practical applications in their daily lives.
1. Excellence 2000 (E2K) Math Programme
The E2K Math Programme is an enrichment programme that uses instructional methodology and materials designed to provide interesting, relevant and authentic learning to our students. Students will learn to question, reflect and take ownership of their own learning. E2K develops higher order thinking skills, problem solving skills as well as nurture other important 21st century competencies such as resilience and resourcefulness, critical and inventive thinking, and effective communication skills.
Koobits.com is an online ICT management system aims to develop self-directed learning, raise students’ interest and competency in Mathematical Problem Solving skills. This platform allows students to learn at their own pace and exposes them to a variety of questions including past year’s Math Olympiad questions. This platform also involves the partnership of parents as they monitor their children’s progress and the mastery of essential Mathematical problem solving skills.
Authentic learning enriches students’ learning experience and brings out the relevance of their learning in various topics. As such, the lower primary students have their annual shopping day, “PEI HWA MINIMART. Through the shopping day, students learn about the concept of money as a medium of exchange and a store of value. They learn about the use of money as an indirect form of exchange not restricted by mutual coincidence of demand. They are also exposed to the different nominations of money commonly used in Singapore. To extend and authenticate their learning, students are given a sum of money (manipulatives) to purchase their choice items bearing in mind their budget and the change they should receive after purchase. By physically handling the money and being involved in the purchase, students experience the actual use of money in exchange for a physical item. This shopping day experience also allows students to develop their decision making and reasoning skills when they share with their teachers the reasons for their choice of purchase. Such experiences authenticate their classroom-based learning and help them to apply their learning in their daily lives wherever possible.
4. Use of Math Manipulative
The use of Math manipulative allows students to acquire mathematical concepts and skills when they use concrete manipulative to aid in their conceptual understanding. It also builds confidence and foster interest in learning mathematics.
5. Math ESCAPE Room
Learning of Mathematics does not just restrict itself to solving Mathematical problems. Students can learn Mathematics through exciting and engaging assembly talks and recess activities in PHPPS. This year, our department took the Math Week to a whole new level of challenge and excitement with the theme of “Courage to Dare”, in the hope of highlighting and developing the qualities of an entrepreneur through all the fun and excitement.Recess Activities: From P1 to P6, we engaged all our students with fun and exciting recess activities like Form and Equation, Tangrams, Beat the Fidget Spinner, Crack the Code, and Guessing Booth etc.ESCAPE Room: For P3 to P6 students, a new ESCAPE Room theme was created and students have to solve a series of codes using musical instruments, colour mixing and directions to escape the room.Assembly Talk: As a conclusion to our highly successful Math Week, the 4 main qualities of an entrepreneur were highlighted and reiterated through powerful stories and a recap of how the various activities students have gone through have developed them in these 4 qualities.
6. Special Events / Highlights / Achievements
Yearly, our department will select 4 major Mathematics Olympiad competitions in Singapore and encourage students’ participation, allowing them to be exposed to Olympiad and higher order thinking Mathematics questions and to extend their learning.
- BPGH Math Competition 2014 – 3rd in placing
- Singapore National Girls’ Math Competition (RGS) 2014 – 6th in placing
1. Collaboration with higher institutions – (with NIE on the use of Geogebra in Primary School)2. Collaboration with West Zone Schools – (Study in Areas of weakness in Mathematics for the weaker students)3. Sharing with Cluster Schools – (Use of ICT in Mathematics)4. Collaboration with Cluster Schools – Providing training for teachers5. West Zone ICT COP 26. Zonal iNLC (West)