Tag Archives: Singapore Math

Alton Central School (ACS), NH: School Administration AGAIN Compromises Their Credibility!

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

Related posts:
>> School bus fiasco … — July 8, 2013.
>> Credibility of ACS Administration questioned — June 24, 2013.

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School Board member Mr. Steve Miller, yet again proving that he is the only one on the board that on a consistent basis stands up for the kids, brought up the issue of the School Bus shenanigans on July 8, 2013, at last night’s ACS School Board Meeting. [How come WE were the only public attending?]

Thank YOU, Mr. Miller. Your efforts on behalf of the kids, as was also the case with bullying, is much appreciated.

Mr. Bill Lander, the Superintendent, said that he hadn’t had a chance to get to the bottom of it — since I had only e-mailed him a couple of hours prior to the meeting, after I had done my post (for the record).

But, Mrs. Sydney Leggett, the Principal, was happy to jump in and provide an update. She said that ONLY 1 kid was affected. Well it is on the ‘tape’, i.e., the video recording IF they ever get around to posting it (unedited).

Check the tape. Listen to what Mrs. Sydney Leggett, the Principal, says.

Why Bill Landers and the Principal forget that they are ‘on tape’ is a continuing mystery to me — unless, of course, they don’t give a damn, because they are not accountable to anyone.

So, Mrs. Leggett says ‘one child’. Well, we are aware of ONE CHILD, because Deanna got a call from the child himself asking her what he should do!

I, was told by Mrs. Pam Forbes (and I am now beyond trying to protect too many people as I was yesterday) that a ‘number of kids were involved‘. [That certainly sounded like there was MORE than 1.]

And here is another mother and she is pretty adamant. Images below. And yes, of course, I have the original unredacted versions. These discussions take place on Facebook. 

Well you don’t have to have done Singapore Math to work out that we now have at least 2. So that is more than 1.

Credibility ….

School Board …

Mr. Lander ….


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Click to ENLARGE.

‘Common Core’ 7th Grade Math Book Being Used By Alton Central (ACS) Has A Fundamental Flaw!

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

Related posts:
Alton Central (ACS) might not have 100% Board backing for
>> ‘Common Core’
 June 11, 2013.

NHPR on ‘Common Core’ — June 9, 2013.
I request School Board do joint Common Core presentation
>>May 14, 2013.

Facts about the biometric bracelet — May 12, 2013.
May 11, ‘Common Core Curriculum’ meeting in Alton — May 11, 2013.
>> Lets find out about ‘Common Core Curriculum’ — May 8, 2013.


Click on any of these images to ENLARGE.



Yesterday for the first time I got to see the ‘new’ “Common Core“, “Singapore Math” books (yes, there are two of them, “A” & “B”) that Alton Central (ACS) is using for 7th Grade Math.

Very nice books, and I wish I had books like this growing up — though I am still confounded as to why there is a crab on the cover.

These books have now been used for a year at ACS and you can see that from the 2nd picture above. I can even tell you the name of the kid who used the book.

Well we plan to use these books for Homeschooling Devanee — hence my particular interest in them. Since I know Devanee very well and given that we have been doing this for awhile now, the first thing I did was to check if the book had ANSWERS at the back. I am quite partial to having answers in the back of Math books because it eliminates the need for me to create an Excel spreadsheet to check Devanee’s answers.

Sure enough the book had ‘Selected Answers’.

But herein lies my problem and puzzlement.

The answers are in tightly bound pages of the book.

OK. This book was used by a student in 2012 and there was even pages of math homework by this kid inside the book.

So, what is the deal here? Is having ready access to the answers a part of the ‘Common Core’ agenda?

Multiple things bother me:

1/ This is an ‘expensive’ textbook meant to be reused. So, how come they did NOT handle the ‘selected answers’ in a BETTER manner, e.g., a supplemental booklet? [These books are supposed to be created by the crème de la crème of International educators, all of them with at least a “Master’s”. They didn’t see this problem? Maybe they should have hired a consultant.]

2/ How come the answers are still in this book if it was used by a student throughout 2012 – 2013? Did they copy (at further costs) all the test pages?

3/ Though I (as somebody with 35 years experience with book publishers) know the ‘pressures’ involved for those that recommend and purchase these textbooks, how come nobody noticed this flaw in these books?

I am not impressed. I am not happy.

I have already worked out a way to prevent Devanee gaining ready access to the answers WITHOUT in anyway putting even a scratch on the book. I might patent my invention for use with ‘Common Core’ books. Yes, I am going to forward this to the Principal at ACS and get some answers — the main one being HOW did they stop kids from looking at the answers when they were doing homework (or didn’t they do homework using this $39.99 (retail) book.

Click to access the 'Marshall  Cavendish' catalogue that lists this book.

Click to access the ‘Marshall Cavendish’ catalogue that lists this book.

Can YOU Subtract ’12’ From ‘9’ Using ‘Number Bonds’?


..by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
>> PI day — Mar. 7, 2013.
The Math Museum In
>> New York City 
Mar. 4, 2013.

If so, as the incomparable Kipling said: “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”.

I guess unlike me, an old man pushing 60, who learned his 3 Rs in the 1950s (in a third world country), you must know all about ‘Number Bonds‘. Just this year, looking at Teischan’s homework I became vaguely aware that they were doing this stuff called ‘number bonds’. Initially all I had seen was the two dangling ball efforts to deconstruct an integer and I had no problems with that since I do think that kids should appreciate how a number comes to be what it is. Now to be fair, ‘number bonds’ is part of the new, ‘new math‘ – the so called ‘Singapore Math‘ (and in case you don’t know, ‘Singapore‘ is a tiny Asian country, really best known for its infamous capture by the damn Japs during WW II, when it, like my home country was a British colony). Singapore Math is being taught all over the place, not just in Alton.

Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.

Then yesterday Deanna showed me this homework that Teischan was struggling with. It took my breath away. I never realized that they were going to use the two dangling balls to do arithmetic operations. So, have a look at this.

They had done the top 2 in class, on the blackboard. She had supposedly transcribed the method and answer from the board onto her sheet. Number 2 was wrong and we asume she copied it wrong.

Though I had never seen subtraction done this way, I could work out how they got ’14’ for #1 and the (correct answer) ’12’ for #2.

Then I noticed that we had a problem! Number 3 and 4 (’17.’ & ’18’ on the sheet) were very different to the other three, and the two they had done in class. Can you spot the difference? Yes, the ‘ones’ number of the second operand is BIGGER than that of the first operand. To use the same technique as for one & two, you would have to use a NEGATIVE NUMBER, in this case ‘-4′ which when added to the ’10’ will give you the right answer ‘6’! But even I, with my high expectations of kids, do not really expect 6 and 7 year olds to be that conversant with negative numbers. IF you don’t use negative numbers, then you have to use a DIFFERENT technique to handle numbers 3 & 4!

I had no idea what that different technique would be. So I did what I always do when I am stuck. I Googled. I found this excellent video tutorial, with exactly the right example, at ‘onlinemathlearning.com‘. Here it is. You have to watch it.

Click to access page. It is the 1st video of the three.

Click to access page. It is the 1st video of the three.

Notice the BIG ‘No!’. I was mortified.

There is an exception to the method. This is for 6 and 7 year olds.

I have two issues with using this strange, two dangling ball approach for teaching kids subtraction.

1/ This method does NOT ELIMINATE the need to do subtraction! Ah? Kids still have to do subtraction with this approach. So what is the gain. I would be all in favor if this method eliminated the need to subtract and said kids could do subtraction by just adding numbers. Now that isn’t as crazy as it may sound to the uninitiated. Logarithms. Now that is real math. We (as kids who didn’t have calculators) used logarithms because ‘logs’ allowed you to do complex multiplication and division using just addition and subtraction. That is neat and useful. You eliminate a complicated process with an easier, better mastered technique. Not so with the two dangling balls. You still have to do the damn operation — in this case subtraction. Plus, how do they teach subtraction. They count the difference between the two numbers. If so, why bother with the two dangling balls. Just count the difference to begin with!

Click to access article.

Click to access article.

2/ Having an exception to deal with a common occurrence is beyond unacceptable. The abiding, (to some of us sensually stimulating) beauty of maths is its predictability, its uniformity. You can’t have a so called ‘easy method’ that has exceptions to deal with common occurrences. This is plain crazy.

Yes, I am the first to admit that I am an old fashioned and stuck in my ways. But, I see no problems with the way we learned our arithmetic, algebra, geometry and trigonometry. We had no electronic calculators or even mechanical ones. We learned things by rote and repetition, over and over and over again.

This was the dedication in one of my recent books.

Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.

P.S.: I collect old logarithmic/trigonometric tables (i.e., the  so called ‘log’ books) and old slide rulers. Send me pictures and quote me a price. Yes, every once in awhile, late at night, when I feel that I am due a treat, and have a few dollars stashed away, I log onto eBay and see what they have. Got a real beauty of a slide rule, cheap, very cheap, a couple of months ago — making use of the eBay, ‘make an offer’ feature.