First, let's start with Singapore. You know that one of the highest math learners are in Singapore according to a

study here. US being behind Singapore, some folks decided to bring Singapore Math curriculum into the United States. I believe that they did a great job. What makes Singapore Math so special is that:

They don't have fancy, thousand-page textbooks.

Their textbooks are simple, to the point, full of exercise and unlike their rivals not so much colorful.

Their math goes in a sequential order so there are not much repetitions.

Third grade math taught in third grade, no unnecessary repeats in later grades.

I think this is what

Common Core people are trying to do right now. Other than those, Singapore Math has a different approach for teaching algebra, numbers and problem solving. You may see some of their work on Khan Academy as well. (Edit: They removed Singapore Math content from their website but they are still available on their Youtube channel)

Alright, I decided to use Singapore Math in my middle school classes because my students were missing lots of foundational skills which were supposed to be taught in elementary school such as long division or decimal multiplication. I decided to spend at least one class a week targeting those concepts but at the same time I didn't want to bore advanced learners.

So, I decided to test them all first to see which grade level they will fall into. In order to be able to do this, I have used

Singapore Math Placement tests starting with 1A level. It says that on the website, if a student receives 80% or more, they can move onto a higher level test. A few students scored at 1A level and the others passed. I continued testing them until they score at any point below 80 %. Some students went all the way up to 4A and 4B level. These students were my advanced learners.

To be clear with the grade levels, do not assume that the middle school students are scoring at an elementary level. since they are not taught the Singapore way, it's quite normal for them to get wrong answers with the math questions they have never seen before. I have only done this to see where they belong according to Singapore Math curriculum and what level good be a good start for them.

Later on, I have shared them privately how they scored on the tests. Then, I have made copies of Singapore math textbooks in order to help them learn those concepts. They studied through the practice books and I have recorded their progress through those packets. This took me about two or three months in total but I have seen great improvement with some students.

For example, I had a very smart eighth grade student who didn't learn long division ever and I was able to teach him since he had to do lots of long division with those packets. At the end of the program, I had two types of students: The ones who liked it and the ones who hated it. I guess there were couple things missing at this cycle which I couldn't afford to do. Let me summarize the learning circle:

- They take a test and we identify students' level.
- Students start practicing (completing the packets with the teacher's assistance)
- Teacher gives them feedback on their mistakes and they learn from those mistakes [Yes, I skipped this part]
- Students fix the mistakes and they re-take the test they failed before.
- Students score more than 80% on the same test, so they can move on.
- Students scoring less than 80% means they need intervention.

By the way, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of which packet they have finished, what they got on the placement tests etc. When you put them all together, this was too much work but it gave me lots of new ideas to try:

Last year, I was teaching summer school where the students failed their math class and I had only fifteen days with them. Looking for what would be the best thing to work with them, I decided to implement Singapore Math curriculum. I did the same thing as above, except for one thing: giving them feedback. Since I had only five students, I was able to grade each packet and circle their mistakes, ask them go over again and fix them as much as possible.

This was very helpful since I saw the students actually improving their scores and learning the basic concepts which they never learned before (such as reading time, converting customary units and measurement). Everything seemed to be alright but we only had fifteen days so it was a little short to gain a great amount of success.

Overall, I still love the Singapore math curriculum but I would rather have students start with this curriculum in their first grade and become fluent with their foundational math skills. If you have any ideas, suggestions, you can share them here.