Primary Math Common Core Edition
The teaching methodology utilized by ALL the Singapore Approach math programs is an exceptionally effective progression from concrete to pictorial to abstract reasoning. Not exactly incremental (like Saxon) or spiral (again, like Saxon) or unit-style (like Horizons), basic concepts are presented using more than one approach and with an emphasis on mastery. Textbooks and workbooks and Teacher Guides (or Home Instructor Guides when available) cohesively and effectively mix drill, word problems, and mental calculation with instruction and apply to all important concepts. There is a program-wide emphasis on basic computational skills (i.e. number operations, fractions, decimals, and percents) coupled with critical thinking and problem solving. Creative problem solving is centered in the bar model drawing methodology. To visually represent problems students are taught to translate them into bar models which help to both understand the concepts and to develop a good solution strategy, as well as serving as a bridge to algebraic thinking. In comparing the various editions of Primary Math (US, SE, and CC), it's important to remember that in all of the basic characteristics they are much more alike than they are different. We can get bogged down trying to determine the actual differences between the editions when, in reality, they are extremely minor in relation to the solidarity and consistency of the teaching methodology.
The CC edition is aligned to the Common Core State Standards which have been adopted by many states but which are still controversial. In relation to Primary Math, this alignment has not impacted in any significant way the general methodology of the program. In fact, it still has the same basic structure, content, and format of its original predecessor developed over thirty years ago. However, there has been a small amount of content (data analysis, probability, negative numbers, and coordinate graphing) added, and topics have been rearranged. If you want to carefully compare the three American editions (US, SE, and CC) from Singapore Math, Inc, we have a scope and sequence chart on our website that includes all three.
There are some format changes in the CC edition. As in the SE (but not the US) all textbooks are in color. Workbooks are still black and white (as in all editions). Instead of being cumulative, reviews at the end of each unit cover only the unit material. Practices (frequent in the SE texts) have been removed but some of that content has been incorporated into the lessons. Most significantly, the Teacher Guides now include reduced-size copies of both textbook and workbook pages. As would be expected, the Teacher Guide specifies which CC standards are applicable to each lesson.
It is NOT possible to mix basic components (i.e. workbooks, textbooks, TGs, or HIGs) from one edition with those from another edition although the supplementary material can be used across editions. It IS possible to change from one edition to another but changes should be made after completing the B books of one level and before the A books of another level.
There are two full-color Textbooks (A and B) for each level. Although the texts are written to the student, it is assumed that instruction is being facilitated and supervised by the teacher. For instance, much of the concrete aspect of the lesson presentation is conducted by the teacher using manipulatives and supplies outlined in the Teacher Guide before progressing to the pictorial representation found in the textbooks. Also, the mental math activities (an important component of the program) are based in the Teacher Guide. The Textbooks could be used either as consumable (working and writing answers to problems as the student progresses through the lesson) or as non-consumable - answering orally in dialog with the teacher or writing answers on separate pieces of paper.
Workbooks (black and white) correlate directly with the textbooks and the student is expected to do all the work in them independently. The workbooks provide focused practice on the mathematical concepts presented in the textbook lessons. It's important to note that the workbooks are just that - practice and reinforcement - with the bulk of the mathematical instruction presented through the textbooks. Although many people feel that there is an appropriate amount of practice/reinforcement in the workbook when coupled with the textbook, some students will need or want more and that's where the supplementary books - Extra Practice and Challenging Word Problems come in.
Teacher Guides are exceedingly useful - if not necessary - for these courses. They help the teacher understand the course material, particularly key concepts such as the bar modeling method which the parent might not be familiar with. They provide detailed lesson plans (not quite scripted but thorough) which coordinate the textbook presentations with the workbook practice. Lessons often include references to Mental Math, Reinforcement, or Enrichment activities as well as suggestions for memorizing math facts. There are reproducible worksheets for Mental Math and Reinforcement as well as descriptions for activities and games found in the back of the TG. Answers to those worksheets as well as the workbook exercises and the textbook examples are all found in the TG. Now with this CC edition, reduced copies of the student pages (with answers) are included, as well. (8.5" x 11," 260 pgs, spiral-bound)
Home Instructor Guides will be coming - probably at the rate of a half-level or full level per year. However, they were not available for the 2014-2015 year and we have not heard if/when any will be available for 2015-2016.
Primary Digital: Unique to this CC edition is a new online digital curriculum that complements the core materials of Primary Math CC. Using the same basic teaching methodologies but combined with multimedia technology and designed for use in the classroom and at home, it can provide homework, lessons, tests, or review. Ultimately, there may be many more applications to this program but at the time of this writing, the website was still labeled as "under construction." Cost for one level for one student for one year is projected at $99. With the exception of tests (currently not available for the CC edition), the content of Primary Digital appears to parallel the printed version rather than augment it.
The Singapore approach math programs remain a strong option. All three editions will equally prepare your student for pre-algebra. Their pacing is slightly more advanced than some (most notably Saxon) which works well for some students. Because of these pacing differences, it is a good idea to take a placement test prior to moving from another program into any of the Singapore approach programs. We have tests specific to the US and SE editions but not yet for the CC. If considering the CC, it's recommended that students take the US placement test. Due to the reduced practice exercises and cumulative reviews, some students are more likely to need the supplemental Extra Practice workbooks when using the CC edition.
Suggested manipulatives include: base ten blocks, linking cubes, measuring tools, number cubes, number discs (or place value disks), place value chart, solid blocks, and miscellaneous items such as fraction squares, geometric shapes, play money, and graph paper.