I have always believed that my role as a Mathematics teacher is to promote the use of challenging hands-on materials and activities that engage students’ critical thinking, develop their skills, and capacitate strong problem-solvers. With over 20 years of experience as a mathematics teacher, which includes working as a mathematics curriculum specialist and coach, I have always looked for materials to support teachers deliver instruction through understanding and conceptual development, rather than just rote learning based on memorization of rules and procedures. The Prime series books delivers just that.
We have chosen to use the Prime books series in our Elementary section because it helps students develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The crafted model lessons created help teachers deliver the content using best practices and pedagogies, such as the CRA approach (Concrete – Representational – Abstract) and bar models used to represent number relationships, which is a best practice used in Singapore Mathematics.
In addition, problem-solving is explicitly taught using the four steps for problem-solving by George Polya (Understand, Plan, Solve, Look back) and makes use of bar models to represent the problems. Bar models help students develop visual models for math problems where students need to determine who or what is involved in the situation and draw unit bars to plug in the information from the problem into the visual model, keeping number relationships in the sizes of the units bars drawn. This strategy helps students understand the problem and determine an efficient approach to solve it by finding the value of the missing unit bars. It is a powerful tool found in the Prime books series to teach students number relationships and develop algebraic thinking from an earlier age.
The Prime series comes with a combo of a Coursebook and a Practice book, in addition to a Teacher guide. The coursebooks model lessons that scaffold instruction, and the activities in the practice book help students consolidate their understanding. The teacher guide books incorporate prerequisite skills and a review for each lesson that can be used as a preassessment or diagnostic before the beginning of each unit. Moreover, the beginning of each Prime lesson states the objectives clearly in a child-friendly language that helps both teacher and student focus on each lesson’s specific skills and concepts.
The Prime series book definitely met our expectations of a well-crafted material created to engage students in conceptual understanding and problem solving, using world best practices and pedagogies. It helps us create a teaching environment where learning math is interesting, engaging, fun, attainable, and learned deeper, giving students a strong foundation of concepts and skills to become critical thinkers.