Tuesday, December 7, 2010

PISA 2009

PISA stands for Programme for International Student Assessment conducted under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The findings is released on 7 December 2010.

65 countries (some countries participated as a city e.g. Shanghai)took part in the study. It is not a competition but it is a study that contains information to help education systems navigate itself in relation to the world.

15-year olds were assessed in areas of reading, maths and science. PISA 2009 has reading as its focus. It is conducted once every three years.

The study finds out the extent to which 15-year olds (those near the end of secondary education) are able to analyse, reason and apply their knowledge in unfamiliar settings.

In particular, the proportion of students in the two highest levels of proficiency (Level 5 and Level 6) is suppose to indicate the proportion of talent pool in a country.

Countries that I have worked with are mostly represented in the study - Singapore, the Netherlands, the US, Chile, Thailand, and Indonesia. The Philippines and Malaysia did not participate. In Singapore, 5152 students randomly sampled 15-year-old students from 167 secondary schools and 131 students from 4 private schools participated in PISA 2009. This is the first time Singapore took part in PISA. It has always taken part in TIMSS which focuses more on attainment of curricular goals and PIRLS.

Look out for a few things in the reports.

Proportion of students in a country that are in the highest level of proficiency in all three domains - reading, maths and science. These is indicative of the talent pool in a country. On average, this is less than 5%.

PISA 2009 focuses on Reading - so there are quite detailed findings about Reading. (In Singapore, students do this portion in English).

Look out for the proportion of students who are deep and wide readers.

Find out what type of reading materials are best in helping students become good readers.

Other than ranking, look out for proportion of top performers in each domain.

Also look for for the indicator that tells us about how students in the lowest quarter in term of socio-economic background perform. This is indicative of social mobilty trough education.

The Executive Summary and the Report is available on the website. In mathematics, China-Shanghai (China participated as provinces rather than as a whole country) was top with Singapore second.Third was China-HongKong (not significantly higher than Korea) with Korea, Chinese Taipei, Finland and Liechtenstein (these countries scores were not statistically different from each others') making up the other top-performing countries. Japan is a notch below with countries like Switzerland, Canada, the Netherlands and China-Macau.

Students' performance at Level 6 and Level 5 are important. This is the excerpt from the Report.

"Proficiency at Level 6 (scores higher than 669 points)
Students proficient at Level 6 on the mathematics scale can conceptualise, generalise, and utilise information based on their investigations and modelling of complex problem situations. They can link different information sources and representations and flexibly translate them. They are capable of advanced mathematical thinking and reasoning. These students can apply insight and understanding, along with a mastery of symbolic and formal mathematical operations and relationships, to develop new approaches and strategies for addressing novel situations. Students at this level can formulate and accurately communicate their actions and reflections regarding their findings,interpretations, arguments, and the appropriateness of these to the given situations.

Across OECD countries, an average of 3.1% of students perform at Level 6 in mathematics. In Korea and Switzerland,around 8% of students are at this level, and more than 5% of students in Japan, Belgium and New Zealand perform at this level. Among the partner countries and economies, in Shanghai-China, more than one-quarter of students perform at Level 6, while in Singapore, Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong-China the proportion is 15.6%, 11.3% and 10.8%, respectively. In contrast, less than 1% of students in Mexico, Chile, Greece and Ireland reach Level 6, and in the partner countries Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Colombia, Jordan, Albania, Tunisia and Panama, the percentage is close to zero.

Proficiency at Level 5 (scores higher than 607 but lower than or equal to 669 points)
Students proficient at Level 5 can develop and work with models in complex situations, identifying constraints and specifying assumptions. They can select, compare, and evaluate appropriate problem-solving strategies for dealing with complex problems related to these models. Students at this level can work strategically using broad, well-developed thinking and reasoning skills, appropriately linked representations, symbolic and formal characterisations,and insight pertaining to these situations.

Across OECD countries, an average of 12.7% of students are proficient at Level 5 or higher. Korea is the OECD country with the highest percentage of students – 25.6% – at Level 5 or 6. Switzerland, Finland,Japan and Belgium have more than 20% of students at these levels, while in the partner countries and economies Singapore, Hong Kong-China and Chinese Taipei, the percentage of students at these levels is 35.6%, 30.7% and 28.6%, respectively, and in Shanghai-China, more than half of all students perform at least at Level 5. With the exception of Chile and Mexico, more than 5% of students in every OECD country reach at least Level 5.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jakarta Post


This article was written by a journalist who attended the launch of Maths Champion - the Indonesian version of My Pals Are Here! Mathematics.

In the article, the 'learning centres' the journalist wrote is actually Professional Learning Communities (PLC). I was describing the fact that in Singapore teachers learn to become better teachers through a school-based approach to professional development.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Singapore Math in Chile


This is the Englsih translation of the information on Chilean Ministry of Education website.

Ministry of Education will begin to apply Singapore method for learning of mathematics

Textbooks used for teaching this methodology will be delivered in March 2011.

40 000 children of first and second grades in 300 schools across the country will be involved.

In a seminar organised by the Ministry of Education and delivered by one of the experts of the Singapore method for teaching mathematics, Dr. Yeap Ban Har, principals and teachers were given an understanding of the method.

Dr. Yeap Ban Har, PhD in mathematics education, was for many years an academic at the National Institute of Education of Nanyang Technological University. During the seminar, he explained that the teaching of mathematics must not be such that many students do not learn it well. He said, "I have seen taught classes of Chilean students and they have the same potential as children in my country. It is possible that they also enjoy mathematics and have high achievement."

The methodology applied in Singapore has resulted in the series of textbooks "Thinking without Boundaries" or "Pensar sin Limites in Spanish. The books are for students in the first six grades.

The Mineduc will deliver the book to about 40 000 students in first and second grades in 300 educational establishments of the country, both public and private subsidized schools, which constitute a representative sample of schools in the country.

For Barbara Eyzaguirre, coordinator of educational standards of the Ministry of Education, "It is important for Chile to achieve progress in the training of students in mathematics and for this we must consider policies that help students so that they can actually achieve an international standard."

During the seminar in Santiago, some teachers from schools that are currently using this method, highlighting the good results achieved by their students.

This learning system aims to develop reasoning abilities and the ability to solve problems, with three major focus: focus on the visualization of mathematical problems through the use of diagrams, using an approach that allows progress from concrete to the pictorial to finally reach the abstract, and a deep understanding of the concepts, logical thinking and mathematical creativity - in contrast to the application of formulas without meaning.

To achieve these goals, Dr. Yeap Ban Har explain that spiral curriculum plays an important role, where students encounter core ideas for several years, but each time with different degrees of depth. In addition, practice with systematic, gradual variations is important.

This method is based on a problem-solving approach and relies on the use of visuals, concrete materials and good practice, will be implemented in schools in Chile from next year.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Singapore Math in Denver Colorado

The first presentation is on problem solving and the second one is on features of early grades mathematics in Singapore.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Seminar at Colegio Inmaculada Conception, Universidad Andres Bello & San Benito School Santiago

This presentation was made at the launch of My Pals Are Here! Mathematics Spanish Edition called Pensar sin Limites (PSL).

Other than three public seminars, this was also presented at various schools that strated their journey in using PSL

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Minisitry of Education of Chile

Dr Yeap Ban Har was invited to speak at this seminar which was hel first in Coneption on 28 September 2010 and again in Santiago two days later. There is now a Spanish edition of My Pals Are Here! Mathematics.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Singapore Math in the Netherlands


Another item on Singapore Math in Dutch. And this is another one ...


Friday, September 17, 2010

Singapore Math in The Netherlands

This is Day 2 presentation on the bar model.

This is the Final Day presentation.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Global Forum on Singapore Mathematics 2010 Hyatt Hotel Singapore

Paper 1

Paper 2

Paper 3

Singapore Math in the Netherlands

A leading Dutch newspaper Volkskrant published this article that attracted a lot of media attention. Dated 15 September 2010.

AMSTERDAM - In 1995 ontdekte Ban Har Yeap (42) voor het eerst dat kinderen in Singapore beter kunnen rekenen dan elders in de wereld. De Singaporees kreeg een vergelijkende studie van internationale rekenprestaties van basisschoolkinderen onder ogen: Singapore voerde al jaren de lijst aan.

Rekentalentjes tref je in elk land. Het zit hem vooral in de grote middengroep. Meer dan 40 procent van de Singaporese kinderen kan lastige rekenproblemen oplossen. Tegen een internationaal schamel gemiddelde van 4 procent.

Sindsdien reist docent en docentenopleider Yeap over de wereld – van de VS en Chili tot Noorwegen en Zuid-Afrika – om het Singaporese rekenen toe te lichten. Dit jaar is Nederland aan de beurt. Vanaf volgend schooljaar introduceren uitgever van lesmethodes Bazalt en onderwijsadviesbureau Haags Centrum voor Onderwijsadvies de methode op de Nederlandse markt.

In Den Haag is de methode op drie basisscholen getest. Met succes. De kinderen vonden rekenen direct leuker, zegt Lionel Kole van Bazalt. ‘Al was het maar omdat ze mochten tekenen tijdens het oplossen van de sommen.’

Dat is meteen ook de kern van de methode, zegt Yeap. De Singaporese rekenmethode is sterk visueel. Kinderen leren geen formele algebra, ze leren rekenen via het ‘strookmodel’. Yeap geeft een voorbeeld. Op een blaadje schrijft hij: X + Y = 11 en X +3Y= 29. Een verzameling tekens die personen met enige rekenvrees een milde stress kunnen bezorgen.

‘Bij ons lossen kinderen van 8 dit met gemak op’, zegt Yeap. Hij tekent twee poppetjes. Een jongetje en een meisje. Allebei met een koffer. De koffer van de jongen weegt 11 kilo, die van het meisje 29. De kleren in de koffer van het meisje zijn drie keer zo zwaar als die van de jongen, zegt Yeap. Bij verdere uitleg snapt zelfs de verslaggeefster het.

Yeap bekeek Nederlandse rekenmethodes. Tot zijn verbazing ontwaarde hij een interne contradictie: je moet goed in rekenen zijn om te leren rekenen. ‘Daarom scoren alleen de kinderen met een abstract talent hoog in Nederland en de rest van de wereld.’ In Singapore en andere Zuid-Oost Aziatische landen, waar gebruik wordt gemaakt van het visuele rekenen, scoren alle kinderen hoger. Vooral voor kinderen met een beperkte of matige aanleg voor wiskunde en rekenen is de methode een uitkomst.

Hard werken
Dat er in Zuid-Oost Azië goed wordt gerekend, verbaast mensen vaak niet. Yeap: ‘Leren en hard werken is in onze cultuur belangrijk, maar daarmee verklaar je de resultaten niet. Enerzijds focust onze methode zich op één onderwerp per keer en dat over de duur van vele jaren. Anderzijds worden onderwijzers intensief opgeleid en krijgen ze ook als ze al werken elk jaar nog honderd uur rekenles.’

Nog een voorbeeld. Een kind van 9 rekent moeiteloos 351:3 uit. Yeap: ‘Ze zien het getal als 300 en 30 en 21. Ze denken in blokjes en plaatjes. Dat is een veel natuurlijkere manier van rekenen dan puur abstract.’

Deze week leidt Yeap diverse Nederlandse lerarenopleiders op in de methode. Meestal zijn de reacties zeer positief. ‘Hèhè, eindelijk snap ik het ook, zeggen ze vaak.’

Een ander voordeel is het rekenplezier. Waar in Nederland maar een klein percentage op de middelbare school voor een bètaprofiel kiest, gooit in Singapore geen enkel kind wiskunde uit zijn pakket. Yeap: ‘Waarom? Omdat rekenen leuk is.’

(if you can read Dutch)

Presentation Slides
Day 1

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Seminar for Parents & Tutors on Primary 1 & 2 Maths


This course is organised by Singapore Teachers' Union for the end of July.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Seminar for Parents on PSLE Maths

This is one of the many talks on PSLE Mathematics that I give throughout the year.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Henry Park Primary School Seminar for Parents

I am glad the school with the alumni association took the trouble to do this for the parents. I was also able to meet two friends, from school and from university days whom I have not seen for a while. There were so many questions during the break - which is good - that I did not manage to catch up with them.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

Presentations at Boston and San Diego

These are available at www.mathz4kidz.com as well as math.nie.edu.sg/T3. I have also posted some on my facebook.

By the way, my students created something to help kids learn the model method www.ultimath.com This was their project for research education when they were in secondary two and three.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Public Seminar by Singapore Teachers' Union 6 Feb 2010

STU organized a seminar for members of the public - teachers and educators on the topic of PSLE examination. Helping Students with PSLE Mathematics is a seminar to help adults helping children understand the current views on what constitute doing mathematics and how this is assessed in the national examination. Strategies to help students are demonstrated during the seminar. See http://www.stu.org.sg under Professional Development.