Singapore Math Model Method
The Singapore Math Model Method is a method that is used to teach children in Singapore primary schools. It enables children to see the question in a much clearer way and it has received many positive reviews from overseas educators. In fact, our Math textbooks are widely used in overseas schools such as the U.S.
Young children (especially in the lower primary) have not totally built up their minds to understand logic yet, so drawing models help them understand the question in a better way.
In my opinion, there are some pros and cons to the model method.
Pros: The Singapore math model method is great for children who are visual learners as it gives a better picture of the question. Children play with toys when they are young. Using blocks to represent numbers is more visually appealing to them than using letters to represent numbers (Algebra). By seeing the question visually, these children are better able to see the logic and relationship between different objects.
Cons: This method may seem tedious and unnecessary if children can see the flow and solution in their minds. Some children might find this method time-consuming as they dislike drawing. Some children might prefer to write down statements to see the flow instead of drawing models.
Most importantly, I feel that this method also does not scale well for secondary schools and beyond. At secondary and JC levels, students are taught to use Algebra instead. That is the reason I do not discourage my primary school students to use Algebra if they know how to apply it correctly.
Nonetheless, I still find drawing models a great way to engage children by making things visual. The main problem with most students is they don’t understand the language of the problem sums. Hence, drawing models enable them to put their thoughts into pictures and enable them to understand better.
In this post, I shall not go through the basics of model drawing which is covered in Lower Primary. Instead, I will like to share something more useful for Upper Primary – cutting of models.
Cutting of Models
This method is widely used in problem sums that involve fractions. For better illustration, let’s look at an example over here.
“Mrs Tan made some muffins. She sold 2/5 of them in the morning and 4/9 of the remainder in the evening. She sold 40 more muffins in the morning than evening. How many muffins did she make altogether?”
Firstly, I draw a model and cut it into 5 parts. I used the pink region to represent the muffins that are sold in the morning and the blue region to represent the remainder.
Next, I cut the remainder into 9 units because the question said that she sold 4/9 of the remainder in the evening. To do that, I will need to cut each blue unit into 3 units to get 9 units in total, So 4 units out of these 9 units are sold in the evening.
Now, to make things consistent, I also need to cut the pink unit into 3 units each.
From here, we can clearly see that 6 units are sold in the morning while 4 units are sold in the evening. And the difference between both of them is 2 units.
Since the question says, “She sold 40 more muffins in the morning than evening,” we can say that
2 units = 40
1 unit = 20
From the model, we can see that there are 15 units in total after cutting the model. So,
Total Number of Muffins = 15 × 20 = 300
Of course, there are other methods to solve this question. Some children might find it cumbersome to draw models and prefer to use statements instead.
Remainder = 1 – 2/5 = 3/5
4/9 of the remainder = 4/9 × 3/5 = 4/15 (This will represent the fraction of Total muffins that were sold in the evening)
Difference between Morning and Evening = Fraction sold in the morning – Fraction sold in the evening
= 2/5 – 4/15 = 2/15
2/15 of Total Muffins = 40
(Warning: Many students write “2/15 = 40”. This statement is wrong because 2/15 is not equal to 40. Be careful of your presentation!)
Total Muffins = 40 ÷ 2 × 15 = 300
Using statements can be a faster way to solve the question. However, for children who are visually-inclined learners, parents might want to use the model method to teach them instead.