BBS April 2010 Singapore Math in Indonesia by BBS Maths Consultant Dr Yeap Ban Har
The open-ended approach common in the Japanese mathematics classroom uses a single problem in a mathematics lesson. In training teachers at Bina Bangsa School - a family of schools in Indonesia that uses the Singapore curriculum - I introduced the idea of teaching new concepts, doing drill-and-practice as well as getting students to apply what they learn using a well-selected or well-crafted problem. Other than workshops and lectures, teachers also get to see such problem-based lessons - there was one on learning area (primary three) and one applying Pythagoras theorem to find distance bewteen points (secondary two). Teachers saw examples, they worked through afew such problems, I modelled a few of such lessons with them and one with students,they worked with other colleagues to design one such lesson which hopefully they will try out and see how studenys respond to the lesson).
In designing such lesson, teachers select a problem and solve the problem themselves to understand the processes and challenges involved, as well as to see the mathematics in the problem. They decide if the problem can be used to introduce a topic or to provide drills-and-practice or to provide opportunities for students to apply what they have learnt.
They also considered how students will solve the problem and how to use the solutions to help students construct knowledge.