At Faith Christian School, we use the same math curriculum for students in JK through Grade 7 (Pre-Algebra).
The curriculum is DIMENSIONS MATH, published by Singapore Math Inc. We have chosen this curriculum because it fits well within our model of education designed to inspire students to wonder and think deeply, to ask good questions and to take responsibility for their own learning.
The DIMENSIONS textbooks do not look at all like a standard math textbook, which is good, as modern education emphasizes memorization (often temporary) rather than understanding.
The program, from even the lowest grades, starts with “Think” questions in each new section of each chapter. These questions pull from their prior knowledge while anticipating the new lesson, allowing for discussion, questions, and multiple methods. The persistence or struggle required for these exercises is where students make connections, hear multiple thoughts on how to solve, and discuss efficiency and beauty in the work of mathematics. Of course, they also better remember the why instead of just the how of problem solving. In addition, their ability to struggle and persist will be beneficial to their work in ALL subjects and in life!
After the “Think” question is posed and equally valid methods of solving are shown, students are given “Do” problems to work in small groups or as a class (depending on age of students) to try out the new skill. This method of learning math contrasts to other methods that restrict student’s natural skills in thoughtfully and effectively approaching learning to arrive at correct answers.
In addition, each student has a workbook that coincides with the textbook and is used for classroom practice and for homework as assigned. The workbook has enticing challenge problems that are often presented in the form of math puzzles that students thoroughly enjoy tackling - yes, enjoy!
DIMENSIONS (Singapore) curriculum moves from the concrete, to the pictorial, to the abstract. This allows students the use of many hands-on manipulatives to explore the math concepts by physically “touching” them. Next, we move to a pictorial stage where students see problems represented pictorially – either with pictures of manipulatives used, or through their own drawings of the math they understand to be happening. Lastly, the material moves into the more abstract, meaning the algorithms (or formulas) used to solve the problems. Students come to understand the “why” of the mathematics as well as the how, and having the two together makes for excellent, transferable math sense. Students have a deeper understanding of numbers, groups of tens, addition, fractions and more. This math sense and solid foundation provide students a significant and robust basis for the higher levels of math in high school.
DIMENSIONS provides access to many wonderful application (word) problems that require multiple steps to solve, pictures or models to be drawn, and sentences of response to be written. These application problems are a great tool to have the students show a complete understanding of concepts taught and bring forward the objectives of previous lessons. The effectiveness of this particular math curriculum is most evident when seeing the students’ confidence grow as they tackle the more complicated word (application) problems as a class, in small groups, and independently. Lastly, the curriculum provides a fantastic variety of math games that are fun and competitive but that allow students to practice the very specific skills being taught.
Here at Faith, we also work hard on learning our math facts (by rote) in Lower School. Furthermore, we actively teach students mental math strategies to help them see the many beautiful patterns in mathematics, preparing them for the more abstract thinking to come in high school math and other classes where they will apply problem-solving skills.
- Karrie Hadfield, Mathematics
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 The term “Math Sense” means the ability to apply math understanding to solve new problems.