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Westport Dad Backs 'Singapore Math'

Westport resident and father of three Kipp Marcus was thrilled to learn that the school system may implement a new method of math, known as Singapore Math, in kindergarten through second grade.

Based on math-teaching methods used in Singapore, this program helps improve student understanding of math on a deeper level, beyond simple memorization, through concrete, pictorial and abstract representations.

"I came upon [Singapore Math] because a colleague of mine whose son goes to Hunter, was working on the whiteboard in our office one day, and this kid was just exploding with math," Marcus told the Board of Education on Monday night. "And what was exciting was not just that he knew how to do math, but that he loved it — and this was not a kid who just loved math. He was just a kid who got it."

After learning that this 8-year-old boy was doing Singapore Math, Marcus said he learned more about it and started using this method with his son when he was 4. His son, now 5, attends Long Lots Elementary School, and according to Marcus, he's seen "exponential growth" in how his son looks at math.

"The only way to describe [Singapore Math] is that it's math in 3-D. It's math that you can feel, look at and think about it," he said. "It's not just learning how to do things — it's learning how to care about what you're doing in math."

Frank Corbo, Westport mathematics coordinator for grades 6 to 12, said Singapore Math is so successful because it places a strong emphasis on number sense, or understanding the relationship between numbers, in the early years.

"The power of this is saying you can do [math problems] a number of ways," Corbo said. For example, 27 plus 23 equals 50. But instead of solving the equation in the traditional sense where you carry numbers over, Corbo said students can say 20 plus 20 is 40, three plus seven equals 10, and then add 40 and 10 together to get 50.

The program was presented to the school board by members of the District Math Team, which is looking to implement this method for the 2011-12 school year.

Do you think the district should implement Singapore Math next year?

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