# Is there a merit to Singapore's bar method in and of itself? Or, boat sailed.

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Due to my ineptitude in teaching math (there's another post on this) I missed the boat on truly teaching the bar method and, those relevant problems in 4A (where we are now) are being done in an algebraic fashion because that was all I knew and that is what I taught (i.e Diana has twice as many books as Andrew, total is Z, x +2x=Z, etc).

I think my kid gets it this way now (he is not gifted or advanced in math).

is there a merit to the bar method that will come back to bite me if I do not specifically teach it, or should I forge ahead? many thanks.

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I think the merit in the bar model is that it leads so nicely to algebra. I think some of the problems in 4 and 5 are easier to solve with bars than with algebra (some that I'd solve with a system but the bar is significantly faster).

I mainly see the bar method as a useful tool.

I don't know if I'd go back and try to teach it though...

I do think it provides a really cool and pretty useful visualization for word problems though.

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I'd go back and teach it as the algebraic method will probably not be as intuitive when you get to more difficult problems. Also the bar method reinforces the concepts being taught, particularly when you get to fractions.

BTW, I made this same mistake when I started using CWP 4 as a supplement with my older son. Once I realized the power of bar diagrams, we switched over. It was no big deal.

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If you were finished with elementary math, I'd say to forget it. However, 4th, 5th and 6th grade math are where those bar models become really useful (especially for fractions and ratios). In MM for example, the bulk of the bar model teaching happens in 5. In 4th, I'd definitely still teach them - your effort will not be wasted.

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I'd go back and teach it as the algebraic method will probably not be as intuitive when you get to more difficult problems. Also the bar method reinforces the concepts being taught, particularly when you get to fractions.

BTW, I made this same mistake when I started using CWP 4 as a supplement with my older son. Once I realized the power of bar diagrams, we switched over. It was no big deal.

Thank you. We have started CWP 4 yet. May I ask, specifically how did you go back and teach it (as in, which resource did you use for the lessons?) Many thanks again

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Thank you. We have started CWP 4 yet. May I ask, specifically how did you go back and teach it (as in, which resource did you use for the lessons?) Many thanks again

I just used the worked examples in the book as a guide. I worked through many problems myself using the method before explaining it to my son.

If you want more input for yourself, I recommend Elementary Mathematics for Teachers as well as The Singapore Model Method for Learning Mathematics.

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The Process Skills books will be excellent for teaching the bar models.

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I have to say that the bar model can be handy, but I often find it a clumsy approach to the problems Singapore uses it for. I'm working with a child accelerated in maths, and try to teach him both methods and assess the problems for which is simplest; but I don't know how that would work for a less-mathy child.

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Sometimes the bar model is much easier - I found it so on one problem this morning. We also do some straight algebra because we also do HOE. We didn't do anything special to learn the bar model though, just puzzled it out with the book.

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Since I am one that often posts about not appreciating the bar method, I thought I would post this positive example for their usefulness.

I was working through a math SAT section with a teenager and I actually finished this problem faster b/c I used a bar diagram vs. alg. This is just one of those problems where the alg is more "clunky" and the diagram easier. (that is definitely not always the case and is often the reverse!)

One-fifth of the cars in a parking lot are blue and 1/2 of the blue cars are convertibles. If 1/4 of the convertibles in the parking lot are blue, then what percentage of the cars in the parking lot are neither blue nor convertibles?

It took me about 5-10 secs to draw the picture and answer.

That said......I would not go back and teach bar diagrams to a student that is beyond SM levels. That one is just an example of where a diagram is intuitively easier. Most of the time solving it both ways takes about the same amt of time. (The teenager answered in about 90 sec)

But.....I wouldn't have thought of drawing a diagram if I wasn't used to doing it with my 5th grader for MiF.

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