Singapore Math - Bar diagram skills

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My dd is staring Singapore 4A this fall. We have used the program from the beginning. However, somehow the bar diagram concept for CWP has not really stuck with dd. Now that the problems are getting more complicated, she cannot apply the diagrams. But, about 50% of the time, she can still do the more complicated problems without help, despite not using the diagrams. Problems that I cannot see the solution to without algebra. It is like she has the bar diagram concept somewhere in her head but cannot always draw it.

Can seasoned Singapore users give me a little advice?

Is it worth going back and trying to re-establish the skill? I am thinking of going back to CWP 2 and building the skill up from the ground. Or would this be a waste of time. I believe when we first covered the concepts, the problems were easy enough that dd just glazed over the diagrams. And now that she needs them to do some problems, she is lost. This is only in the CWP though, she aces all the regular workbook problems.

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Have you tried having her work with thinking blocks? I am using it and the CWP with one of my twins who will be starting 4A.

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Have you tried having her work with thinking blocks? I am using it and the CWP with one of my twins who will be starting 4A.

:iagree:

Those Thinking Blocks videos are fantastic. I emailed the creator and said, "THANK YOU!!" She is thrilled that they help so many students.

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Have you tried having her work with thinking blocks? I am using it and the CWP with one of my twins who will be starting 4A.

OMIGOSH - THANK YOU!!!!! This is wonderful! I am so excited about it.

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Have you tried having her work with thinking blocks? I am using it and the CWP with one of my twins who will be starting 4A.

Awesome! Thanks!

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Now that the problems are getting more complicated, she cannot apply the diagrams. But, about 50% of the time, she can still do the more complicated problems without help, despite not using the diagrams. Problems that I cannot see the solution to without algebra. It is like she has the bar diagram concept somewhere in her head but cannot always draw it....This is only in the CWP though, she aces all the regular workbook problems.

The complicated problems in CWP are purely algebra problems. The bar diagrams are a visual form of algebra. Some students who understand math fairly well can do an instinctive form of algebra in their heads (with a little help from scratch paper), at least for simpler problems. It sounds to me like your daughter is in the latter group.

For many students, the visual tool of the bar diagrams makes thinking through an algebra problem easier. But students have been learning algebra for hundreds of years without bar diagrams, and students who have that instinctive "I get it" way of thinking usually don't have too much trouble learning it. So I'd say it's entirely up to you whether you want to put effort into getting your daughter to master the other half of the bar diagram problems, the ones that she doesn't get instinctively. The bar diagrams will give her one more tool for thinking through algebraic problems, but they may not really be that necessary for her.

If you do want to teach it, you probably don't need to go all the way back to CWP 2. You could try working through the levels of my Word Problems from Literature series with her, having her draw and explain the simple diagrams and then discuss how the diagrams change as the problems get more complex:

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