The objective of East West Math’s professional development services is to train Elementary school teachers in the implementing world-class Singapore Math program with the effective use of the textbooks, workbooks, teachers’ guides and other resources in order to increase teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge of mathematics to improve student instruction.
Increased teacher knowledge and understanding of Elementary mathematics through this professional development effort will result in children becoming “mathematically proficient students” (CCSS pp. 6-8), confident and fluent problem solvers who are able to use multiple strategies to solve a variety of mathematical problems.
Thus, through the use of the Singapore Math materials and mathematically content-rich professional development project, teachers will gain the resources and knowledge to meet and even exceed the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics.
Common Core State Standards and Singapore Math
The Common Core State Standards in Mathematics demand pedagogical shifts for teaching and learning Mathematics in schools across the United States. New States’ assessments will significantly change and test for “intensive focus,” “linking back” and “mathematical modeling.”
Therefore, these shifts require for both teachers and students to focus on deepening their understanding of mathematics and to make connections among key conceptual ideas across all grades. Additionally, these shifts require teachers to abandon the traditional spiral progression of teaching mathematical ideas. As a result of these changes, old-fashioned teaching, which was primarily focused on procedural understanding, must be abandoned.
Also, as the result of the new Common Core requirements, most of the currently in-use textbooks became de-facto obsolete. These textbooks are unfocused, lack depth, lack connections among grades and do not meet the Common Core criteria even when alignment is claimed by a publisher.In contrast, Singapore Math pedagogy, textbooks and other resources meet all of the shifts demanded by the Common Core State Standards.
There is a strong correlation between teachers’ mathematical content knowledge and students’ learning. Gaps in the teachers’ mathematical content knowledge parallel gaps in student learning. Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics, Liping Ma, Ph.D. 2010.
The original Singapore Math textbooks were designed by the Singaporean Ministry of Education to address not only students’ learning needs, but also to address gaps in the teachers’ mathematical content knowledge.
Content-rich professional development will increase elementary school teachers’ understanding of key mathematical ideas. At the same time, Singapore Math textbooks will help teachers connect these key ideas across grades in elementary schools.
Students must have access to textbooks that explain mathematical concepts. At the same time, students need carefully sequenced exercises to practice the concepts they learned in order to gain mastery of these concepts. In the absence of the mathematically rich textbooks and workbooks it will be very hard, if not impossible, for students to become “mathematically proficient students.”
Successful shifts in the classroom of teachers teaching mathematics and students learning mathematics can only be achieved with high quality professional development coupled with pedagogically sound and mathematically rich materials such as Singapore Math textbooks, workbooks and teachers’ guides.