Friday, September 26, 2008

Math problem of the week: 4th grade Trailblazers vs. Singapore Math

1. From 2/3 of the way through the grade 4 Math Trailblazers workbook, p. 144:

A. When Shannon and her family arrived at the park on Saturday, Shanon counted 3 children on each of the following: the slide, the swings the monkey bars, and the merry-go-round. How many children were at the park when Shannon arrived?

B. If there were 8 more children than adults at the park, how many adults were at the park?

...

Shannon treated her little sister and her mother to a treat. At a nearby stand she bought two cans of juice at 65c each and three popsicles at 85c each. She gave the vendor $5.00. How much change will Shannon receive?

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2. From 2/3 of the way through the grade 4 Singapore workbooks, Primary Mathematics 4b, p. 120

A computer costs $2290.  An oven costs 1/5 the cost of the computer.  How much more does the computer cost than the oven?

A basket, together with 6 cans of mushrooms, weighs 3.05 lb.  Each can of mushrooms weighs .43 lb. Find the weight of the basket when it is empty.


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OILF's Assessment

In the first Trailblazers problem, the italic each gives away the multiplication operation, and the problem is split into two parts so you know to multiply first, then add--unlike the Singapore problems, where you have to figure out which operations to use, and in what order.

Both Trailblazers problems stick to friendly numbers:  2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 65 and 85.  Their Singaporean counterparts, meanwhile, use a four digit number, a fraction, and two unfriendly decimals.

Playgrounds and refreshments vs. major appliances.

3 comments:

Casvelyn said...

I am bad at math (and I don't even really like it), but based on all the problems samples here, I find Singapore Math to be easy for me to comprehend. Granted, I'm a college student, so I should be able to do elementary math, but the Singapore problems just appeal to how my brain works (and the problems seem more relevant, somehow).

Dawn said...

casvelyn - I think it's at least in part simply that the Singapore questions are always very clear and straighforward. They aren't cluttered up with stupid information (the naming of each piece of playground equipment); they're edited of all the useless information in much the same way a brain edits out the useless bits when faced with problem in real life.

I really don't know if anyone's brain works the way that Trailblazers problem seems to expect.

lefty said...

Dawn, According to what I've read, Reform Math programs claim as a virtue the extra clutter of their word problems: it is supposedly a useful, mathematical exercise to sort through this clutter to figure out what's relevant.