Use Algebra to solve problems for PSLE Maths

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Use Algebra to solve problems for PSLE Maths

Postby tianzhu » Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:13 pm

Is it advisable to use Algebra to solve problems for PSLE Maths?

Many parents are not updated on the use of Model Drawing and other Problem Solving Heuristics in solving Maths questions in Primary schools. I believe parents are better versed in algebraic methods.

Some parents may feel that it is easier to solve Sect C questions using algebraic methods and may be even tempted to teach their kids Algebra.

MOE has clarified that students are not restricted to the use of any one particular method. So questions linger on Is Algebra taught in P6 deep or thorough enough to be used for Sect C type of questions? Is it advisable to use Algebra to solve problems for PSLE Maths?
Please share your view.


http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/forum/2007/ ... 070217.pdf
ST Forum, 12/2)

Some parents of primary school pupils seem to be confused about their
children's mathematics as taught by some teachers.
From comments I gathered when tutoring Primary 6 pupils, it appears that modeldrawing
methods have to be used in order to score more marks in the Primary
School Leaving Examination (PSLE).
The use of algebra methods may lead to loss of marks as it is not encouraged
nor recommended.
However, algebra is part of the Primary 6 Maths syllabus.
Some parents are not even aware that algebra questions have been set in past
PSLE Maths papers.
Can the Ministry of Education clarify the following doubts:
Can students use different maths techniques like algebra if they prefer it to
model-drawing?
An example of a question in which both methods can be used:
At a funfair, two-fifths of the visitors were women. There were three times as
many men as children. If there were 90 more women than children, how many
visitors were there at the funfair?
Will there be loss of marks if algebra is used instead of model-drawing methods?
Are model-drawing methods so important that they continue to be highly used in
secondary schools?
Should we not teach students to be more creative by using different approaches
in maths if these can help them understand the subject better and more easily?

http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/forum/2007/20070217.htm
Different Approaches Taught for Mathematics Techniques
1. Mr Lim Boon Tong had sought clarification on whether mathematics techniques like algebra, other than the model drawing method, could be used in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) Mathematics. (“Can algebra be used to solve PSLE maths problems”, The Straits Times, 12/2).
2. The model drawing method is a powerful approach for problem solving and learning mathematical concepts. By drawing models, pupils can represent the mathematical relationships in a problem pictorially. This helps them understand the problem and plan the steps for the solution.
3. The pictorial form also helps pupils visualise what could otherwise be abstract concepts. In this way, model drawing supports the learning of fractions, ratio and percentages. Pupils will find model drawing useful when they solve problems involving these concepts in Primary Five and Six.
4. The model drawing method is thus a developmentally sound approach for young children. It is recognised internationally as an effective way for young children to learn problem solving and to have early exposure to algebraic concepts. At Primary Six and Secondary One, pupils can draw upon their earlier experience of using models to help them understand algebraic relationships in problems.
5. Other than the model drawing approach, pupils are also taught different problem solving methods. They are encouraged to try different approaches and have the flexibility to choose the method that works best for them in solving the problems. They are also encouraged to present their solutions clearly so that these can be understood.
6. While pupils are not required to use algebra to solve word problems in the PSLE Mathematics, they are also not restricted to the use of any one particular method. In the marking of PSLE Mathematics, all mathematically correct solutions are acceptable and there is no loss of marks if a correct algebraic method is used.
7. We thank Mr Lim for his feedback.
Ho Peng (Ms)
Director, Curriculum Planning and Development
Ministry of Education
Tan Yap Kwang
Chief Executive
Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board

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Re: Use Algebra to solve problems for PSLE Maths

Postby ChiefKiasu » Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:17 pm

I personally feel model drawing is a waste of time. Give me good ol' algebra any day! 8)

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Re: Use Algebra to solve problems for PSLE Maths

Postby tianzhu » Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:35 pm

ChiefKiasu wrote:I personally feel model drawing is a waste of time. Give me good ol' algebra any day! 8)


That's for you. How about your son?

Best Wishes

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Re: Use Algebra to solve problems for PSLE Maths

Postby ChiefKiasu » Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:44 pm

tianzhu wrote:...That's for you. How about your son?...


My son lagi better. Don't know algebra and lazy to draw models.

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Postby lizawa » Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:29 am

The first chapter in the P6 Maths textbook is "Algebra". They are taught basic algebraic equations.

To solve Sect C problems, you need to form multiple equations and solve simultaneously. So, I personally feel that because they started teaching Algebra so late, it is sometimes easier for the kids to use models, process skills, fractions, ratio etc to solve the problem. If they cannot form the 2 or 3 simultaneous equations to solve, then, they will be stuck.

Just take one of the questions that Tianzhu has posted previously, on the person spending 0.5 of remaining on item x, y, z and left with $1.50 in the end. This kind of the question will be easiest solve with the process skills taught rather than algebra.

Algebra, in a way, is very mechanical. Using process skills or models, help the child to visualize and think a little deeper into the question. I think it's good training for the child.

Just my opinions.

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Postby lizawa » Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:31 am

Is it advisable to use Algebra to solve problems for PSLE Maths?


Forgot to answer this question :)

Yes, if your child is able to use algebra and thinks it's easier, he should use it.

After 1st term in school, my son (P6) can decide for himself what questions he can solve easier with models, ratios or algebra. The main thing is, they must be clear how to use all these different methods.

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Postby tianzhu » Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:15 am

lizawa wrote:
After 1st term in school, my son (P6) can decide for himself what questions he can solve easier with models, ratios or algebra. The main thing is, they must be clear how to use all these different methods.


Hi lizawa
Thank you for the insightful reply.

You are right, let the student decides. Eventually, he/she will sit for PSLE without anyone’s help. What’s more important is that he/she understands the concept and is able to apply the skills to solve similar problem should he come across it in examinations.

Judging from the methodology you used to answer the questions, I guess you are geared towards using Algebra to solve such problems. Just curious, is your son taught similar way of answering these questions in his school or are the teachers using Model Drawing and Heuristics?

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Postby lizawa » Wed Jun 04, 2008 2:06 pm

Just curious, is your son taught similar way of answering these questions in his school or are the teachers using Model Drawing and Heuristics?


For these types of questions, he will use the same method I used. He has been taught all these by the school. He will also use model drawing and heuristics, as and when needed. And as and when he thinks is easier or more appropriate. Some questions on fractions are more difficult to be solved by algebra, in his opinion. So he will use ratio or model drawing.

You will be surprised, after so many years of training in model drawing, our kids are quite expert already. :)

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Postby matrix0405 » Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:19 pm

Unless you're prepared to teach your kid algebra, using algebra will further confuse the kid as they are not taught to use this method. Besides, most model questions are set in such a way for using models to solve. Using other methods likely takes a longer time.

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Postby heutistmeintag » Thu Jul 31, 2008 12:54 am

lizawa wrote:Algebra, in a way, is very mechanical. Using process skills or models, help the child to visualize and think a little deeper into the question. I think it's good training for the child.


For those of us who are trained in Algebra, I think we have internalized the method and using it comes very naturally...so much so that we are resistant to other methods. Sometimes, we have to un-learn in order to help our children. :wink:

matrix0405 wrote:Unless you're prepared to teach your kid algebra, using algebra will further confuse the kid as they are not taught to use this method. Besides, most model questions are set in such a way for using models to solve. Using other methods likely takes a longer time.


I totally agree here. I was skeptical and tried to teach my children simultaneous equations when they started learning modeling. My P6 boy has become so proficient with modelling that he will solve his question while I am still resolving the first variable. Mind you, while I had not been a gifted child, I am at least an "A" student when it comes to Maths.

So personally, I have to say that Algebra may be our thing in the past. We should let the children decide which method they are more comfortable with.

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