Monday, 11 May 2015

Using The Bar Model in Singapore Math

There are a number of reasons why Singapore math works. One of them is the use of visual representation. Kids get to better understand the problem, take note of obvious patterns, analyze the sequence and identify what needed to be done. It has, time and time again, proven to be an effective tool in stimulating the child's mind and developing his analytical and cognitive abilities.
One of the more popular tools for visual representation is the use of bar models.

Why It Works
Bar models allow the kids to simplify word problems. By presenting them through bars, they will be able to identify the issues involved, see the patterns and come up with the right solution. Bar models help the kids portray the word problems in a different perspective. They will be able to understand and see the relationships of the numbers involved.

The good thing about it is that it covers a broad scope. It can be applied to numerous math transactions. Thus, students across different levels can make good use of it. They can start with addition and subtraction, see how the numbers are related through the bar model. When they're used to it, they can apply the same technique to multiplication and division. It can then be extended to ratios, fractions and percent. That's how practical they are. That's how useful bar models can become in the math lessons of your kids.

How It Works
Bar models can be used in two different ways, either through the part-whole model or the comparison model.

1. Part-Whole Model
This model can be used in various math applications - addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Based from its name, it is effective in presenting a number as part of a whole.

Example: Adam has 10 apples and Ben and 30 apples. How many apples do they have in total?

Solution: Draw a long bar which represents the total number of apples that both Adam and Ben have. Divide it into two. One part is shorter while the other one is three times longer than the first part. This would help the kids illustrate the problem. The shorter part of the bar signifies the 10 apples of Adam and the longer part is used to represent the 30 apples of Ben. Kids will immediately identify the math application that needed to be used in this problem - addition.

This particular model can also be used when a part is missing. If the only given figures are the total 40 apples and Adam's supply of 10 apples, kids will realize that by subtracting one number from the other, they will arrive at the missing part. The bar model is useful in this situation by drawing the whole model and the shorter bar of 10 apples. Kids will have to identify the missing part.

2. Comparison Model
Like the part-whole model, the comparison model can be used in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. But the difference of the two is that this use two bars while the former model uses only one bar. The presence of two bars allows the kids to compare the two and identify what is missing from the other.

Example: There are 100 sticks in the pile. If Bea got 20 sticks, how many sticks will be left in the pile.

Solution: Draw two bars. One will be longer than the other. The longer bar represents the 100 sticks. The shorter one represents the 20 sticks of Bea. By comparing both bars, kids will realize that they need to subtract 20 from 100 to get the missing part.

A Singapore maths educational article by Scotts Digital, a top marketing firms in Singapore

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