Mathematics Department Directions & Philosophy
Mathematics in Dazhong is shaped by our direction of Mastery of Maths for Life. This takes place in two ways: (1) Cultivating the Joy of Learning, and (2) Building Confidence through Mastery. Along this direction, key milestone programmes are designed to promote conceptual understanding by sense-making through stories.
The broad aims of Mathematics education in Dazhong are aligned to that of the National curriculum. They are to enable students to:
- acquire & apply mathematical concepts & skills;
- develop cognitive & metacognitive skills through a mathematical approach to problem solving; &
- develop positive attitudes towards mathematics.
Figure 1: Singapore Mathematics Framework
To develop our students to acquire and apply the necessary skills,
concepts, processes, attitudes and metacognition towards learning of
Mathematics, the department carefully designs and plans suitable learning
experiences (LEs) both in and out the classroom. Such LEs help students to
activate their learning, promote critical and inventive thinking. At suitable
milestone checkpoints, we assess and monitor their learning.
Department Key Approaches & Programmes
The department teaching principles are aligned to that of the Singapore Teaching Practice. The key principles:
1. Teaching is for learning; learning is for understanding; understanding is for reasoning and applying and ultimately problem solving.
2. Teaching should build on students’ knowledge; being cognisant of students’ interests and experiences; and engage them in active & reflective learning.
3. Teaching should connect learning to the real world, harness ICT tools & emphasize 21st century competencies.
Teaching is an interactive and iterative process that is focussed on students’ learning. In this process, teachers use a range of teaching approaches to engage students in learning, collect various sources of feedback to inform them of their instruction and the students’ learning, and then make informed decisions on their instructional practices to enhance the learning.
Our key pedagogical approaches include:
ICAN Approach: Mathematics in Dazhong is taught through the Improving Confidence And Numeracy (ICAN) approach, which employs 8 guiding principles formulated by MOE. There is an emphasis on ensuring that students have the necessary prerequisites before learning a new topic, hands-on learning with manipulatives, and reasoning and communication in the learning of mathematics.
Polya’s Problem Solving Techniques: To scaffold our students’ critical & problem solving skills, we introduced the Polya’s 4 Step Problem Solving approach to our students. The technique is created by George Polya, a Hungarian Mathematician. It emphasizes 4 key principles:
- Understand the problem
- Devise a plan
- Carry out the plan
This technique complements our problem-sum a day approach, and heuristics and problem-solving strategies are introduced progressively.
Student Learning Space Pedagogical Scaffold (SLS PS): The department also adopts the SLS PS in lesson planning & delivery. Use of relevant ICT platforms/tools to activate learning, promote thinking and discussion, and to visualise students’ thinking are researched and designed via our Professional Learning Time and implemented in their lessons.
Learning Mathematics is more than just learning concepts and skills. Equally important are the cognitive and metacognitive process skills. The processes are learned through carefully constructed learning experiences enacted via our department programmes:
MEW: All students in Dazhong get to enjoy exciting Mathematics Exploration Weeks (MEW) recess activities each Term. There are a variety of fun activities such as Guess & Win, Snap It Up, 7 Ate 9, Tangrams, Dino Math Track, Traffic Jam and Kahoot on iPads — promoting the joy of learning in Math and allowing them to connect their concepts through games!
Joy of Learning:
Our Primary 1 students get to experience the joy of learning at the P1 Math Carnival. They have fun at various Carnival games, while building up their confidence in Mathematics right from a young age!
Our Primary 2 students cultivated their Joy of Learning and Singapore Spirit by embarking on a Mathematics Trail @ Changi Airport. By looking at various aspects of Singapore’s treasured Airport, they learned about Mathematics in real-life contexts such as the height of the control tower, and hands-on activities such as weighing their bags on the luggage scales.
Our Primary 3 & Primary 4 students get a chance to embark on Mathematics Trails, experiencing Mathematics through various stations in real-life environments. The joy of learning they have on the Trails move them further along our goal of helping them Master Maths for Life.
In 2018, as part of Dazhong’s 80th Anniversary celebrations, our Primary 5 students had the opportunity to design and create Mathematics-related games during 4 sessions of a Mathematics Games Workshop. This instilled the joy of learning and entrepreneurial dare in the Primary 5 students, as they conducted the games they designed during a carnival for Total Defence Day!
Those with a greater passion and interest in Mathematics are stretched as part of the SOAR programme. As part of this, Primary 4 students will undergo a series of lessons that aim to develop their general critical and inventive thinking skills, which is one of the key domains in the 21st century competencies.
In Primary 5, students will have the opportunity to further their learning in specific subject disciplines and participate in various competitions that allow them to gain exposure and showcase their learning. They will also embark on a mini-project that allows them to conduct research into a topic of their interest, through which they will develop the necessary inquiry skills to nurture them into self-directed learners.
In Primary 6, students will be required to apply the skills and competencies they have acquired through the SOAR programme to complete a team project as part of the Destination Imagination National Tournament. This aims to provide them with the opportunity to apply their critical and inventive thinking skills and disciplinary knowledge to an interdisciplinary project, thereby culminating their journey through the SOAR programme.
The Primary 5 and Primary 6 SOAR students who have displayed aptitude in Mathematics will also be given the opportunity to participate in the Singapore and Asian School Math Olympiad (SASMO), which is an annual competition that aims to arouse students’ interest in mathematical problem solving, and to develop mathematical intuition, reasoning, logical, creative and critical thinking.