At Newbridge Academy, students are encouraged to question, experiment with, and be curious about mathematical relationships and how these can be noticed and applied in our daily lives. Our program meets the British Columbia mathematics curriculum and enriches it in many ways, including the implementation of the Singapore Math Primary Mathematics program. We use the US editions of Singapore Math Essential Math for Kindergarten, and Primary Mathematics for Grades 1 to 6, which aligns well with the BC mathematics curriculum.

Singapore students are the world’s math leaders. The Singapore curriculum focuses on fewer topics but in greater depth, with a greater emphasis on mastery, beyond learning to calculate. There is an effective mix of skill practice, word problems and mental calculation instruction connected to fundamental concepts. While typical North American curricula touch on a larger number of topics superficially, the Singapore Mathematics program presents the core math curriculum in a way that better prepares students for higher math.

The strong point of the Singapore approach is its clear and multi-pronged presentation of concepts. Singapore Math follows the Concrete - Pictorial - Abstract (CPA) approach to learning mathematical concepts. Based on the work of American psychologist Jerome Bruner, instruction begins with hands-on group activities with objects like buttons or dice. Next, students move onto the pictorial phase — drawing representations of concrete objects before moving on to abstract equations. This allows for effective building of conceptual understanding, rather than memorizing correct but poorly understood procedures.

In the early grades, students are taught to draw number bonds. These are diagrams that show how numbers can be “broken” into pieces. This helps students to recognize the relationships between numbers. In later grades, students learn to draw bar diagrams to visually relate various information to an unknown amount, to help them determine which mathematical expressions are useful in solving the problem.

The purpose of drawing the models is not to encourage students to follow specific rules, but to understand the concepts and choose a good problem solving method. For complex problems, several strategies are possible, and drawing the model allows the student to visualize a good strategy.

The Singapore Mathematics program is the core resource that we use. The main component is the lesson delivered by the teacher, which is supported by student textbooks and workbooks. There are also enrichment workbooks with variations on problems from the workbook, along with challenging new problems. Teachers also draw from other resources such as Kangaroo Mathematics contests, tangrams and other puzzles, iPad problem solving and coding apps, JUMP Math, and math projects. Students at Newbridge Academy have many opportunities to engage with mathematics at the level that is right for them.

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