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N’s International School Experience (Part 2)

N has covered a few topics in Math so far, and to be completely honest, I’m not quite sure what all the topics are. I pop into his classroom occasionally for a short chat with his teacher when I’m early for pick-up, and she has been very kind to entertain all my questions about what they’ve been learning, so I’m just recording what I’ve learnt from her.

In the first semester, they used ‘The Double-Decker Bus’ to explore addition and subtraction, and were also given math racks to work with. Developing learners are given one math rack, while more advanced learners use two math racks.

They also learnt how to use the split strategy to solve Math problems.

In Semester 2, they learnt about 2D and 3D shapes, and went on a Shapes Hunt around the school. We were away in Singapore during the Shapes Hunt, so I got N to do it on his own at home.

At the moment, they’re working on word problems and I like how the teacher illustrated the different types of word problems for them!

The children are frequently paired up so that they can work on problems together, and the teacher does switch up the pairings to ensure that they can work with other children. She also tries to put those of relatively equal “standards” together, and gives the more advanced learners extra work as they can finish their work faster. I really like this collaborative learning approach, as it allows the children to learn from each other, and to learn how to work with others.

This year, the school also uses DreamBox Learning, an iPad Math app, and the kids get to use it in class as well. They are encouraged to work on it at home too, and it’s so fun that N is quite self-motivated to complete the activities on the app. I have to sit with him when he uses it, as he sometimes has trouble understanding what is required of him, but he can usually figure it out after a bit of guidance.

Whenever I speak to his teacher, she tells me that for Math, it is the process that matters more than the answer. The children are encouraged to find as many different ways to solve a Math problem as possible, instead of doing repetitive drills. They advocate learning concepts well, and they want the children to be resourceful enough to solve the questions using different methods, as that will allow them to handle more complicated problems in the future.

We used to get N to work on Math assessment books from Singapore, and it was honestly quite a pain, as there is a lot of repetition. We are now trying to get him to solve one or two Math problems at a time, but he needs to come up with at least two ways to solve each problem. It takes time and practice to be able to do that, but hopefully, he will get better at it after a while.

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