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RCC, Americorps Vista host home school teachers

Jul 29, 2019

Rockingham Community College and the Americorps Vista team that has been working on campus for several semesters hosted home school parent-teachers on July 15 for an instructional workshop.

“You have to be the most disciplined, dedicated people on the face of the earth, and I applaud you. It is huge for your family to (home school),” facilitator Kim Bell told the parents.

Bell was brought in to lead the workshop, titled “Singapore Math Strategies and Philosophies” – a program based on the mathematics curriculum used for kindergarten through sixth-grade students in Singapore.

In the 1980s, the U.S. and Singapore ranked in the lower half of all the countries that had students take the TIMSS test (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study). Singapore began studying American research.

“By 1993, Singapore ranked number one, while the U.S. had really not gone anywhere,” Bell said. “So, in 13 years, they totally revamped and revolutionized their educational instruction in Singapore.”

Bell said Singapore has no natural resources – except for its people – “so they had to educate their people to get away from being a Third World country.”

In an hour-long math test a researcher present to Asian and American students, “the Asians worked 59 minutes before they gave up or asked for help. The average time was 30 seconds before an American student gave up,” Bell said.

“What’s wrong? Only robots are truly made for memorization,” she said. “(Schools) made students memorize, they taught students procedures, and they burdened students with tedious calculations.”

Looking back at fifth-grade students to whom she has taught algorithms over the years, she recalled how well they scored on tests – but admitted they would not remember long-term how to do them.

“They know they need to multiply. They know they need to understand it. But making students do 30 problems was not what was best for students,” she said.

“Research has stated that problem-solving has to be at the center of the mathematics program,” Bell said. “Problem solving, teaching computation in ways that make sense, and going slower to go faster (is the answer). Students have to have a strong number sense foundation. They have to understand place value.”

She described Singapore Math as “an approach to teaching math that produces strong problem solvers and logical thinkers,” through which students learn math concepts using a three-step process of concrete (using objects such as chips or paper clips), pictorial (drawing pictures of math concepts), and then abstract (using numbers and symbols).


Rockingham Community College
PO Box 38
215 Wrenn Memorial Rd.
Wentworth, NC 27375


Monday to Thursday:
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Friday: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm


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