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Singapore Math, Grade 8 Set Review by Jennifer Do Nascimento

Singapore Math
19535 SW 129th Avenue
Tualatin, OR 97062

Most parents in the homeschool community have heard of Singapore Math. It is known as an advanced system of mathematics that has been converted from use in Japan for students here in the States.

Recently, Singapore Math worked with Star Publishing to develop a series of textbooks specifically designed for middle school students. Together, the two companies developed Dimensions Math. The series follows the Singapore Mathematics framework and also covers the topics in the Common Core State Standards

We received the complete Grade 8 Set for review. Our set included: Textbooks 8A and 8B ($23.50 each), Teaching Notes and Solutions 8A and 8B ($30.00 each), Workbook 8A and 8B ($9.50 each), and Workbook Solutions 8A and 8B ($15.50 each). All the books we received are softcover. The textbook is also available in hardback.

As you can probably guess, the school year is divided between the two books, A and B. The “A” books contain chapters one through seven, and the “B” books hold chapters eight through fourteen. Each chapter has two to five lessons, all of which vary in length. Some of the material covered in Grade 8 is: exponents, linear equations, quadratic factorization, congruence and similarity, Pythagorean Theorem, and data analysis.

The textbooks are very appealing to look at, and are full of color and lively detail. They provide a comprehensive and systematic approach to teaching mathematics. A combination of different approaches is displayed throughout the books in special sections like: Chapter Openers (topic introduction through real-life applications), Math Bits (fascinating facts about the current topic), Basic Practice (simple questions that involve the direct application of concepts), In A Nutshell (quick review of important rules and concepts), Recall (relates concepts or definitions covered earlier to the current topic), Remarks (highlights the key learning points), Discuss (thought-provoking questions related to facts), Further Practice (more challenging questions that involve the direct application of concepts), Brainworks (higher-order thinking questions), Class Activities (introduces new concepts through cooperative learning methods), Math Webs (website links for additional information), Write In Your Journal (encourages reflective learning), and more.

The Teaching Notes and Solutions books are exactly that. It contains fully worked solutions for all of the problems in the student textbook. It also has brief overviews of each of the chapters and helpful tips for teaching them. This is an invaluable resource for parents like myself who are not mathematically inclined.

The Workbooks are written as a supplement to the textbooks and give students more practice in applying concepts previously learned. The questions in each workbook chapter are categorized into four parts according to the level of difficulty and thinking skills involved: Basic Practice (simple questions that drill comprehension of concepts), Further Practice (harder questions that involve direct applications), Challenging Practice (questions that require synthesis ability), and Enrichment (questions that demand higher order thinking). The unworked solutions are in the back of the book. The Workbook Solutions books are the fully worked answers to the questions in the Workbooks.

So, how did we use the Grade 8 set? My original intent was to have my eighth grader use it as her math curriculum for the rest of the year. Since she just finished a different curriculum, I figured it would be a perfect time to transition to something new. While she was eager to start the new program, it didn’t go nearly as well as I had hoped.

Her previous program could almost be called living math. It was written in a conversational-type tone. I should have thought about that. While there is nothing wrong with Dimensions Math, it is definitely not a living math. The instructions and teaching are very institutional. Again, not bad- just not what my daughter is used to. In fact, as we went through the first couple of chapters together and did the work, I was quite enjoying myself! The math is very well taught and explained. The added features *almost* make it fun. Now there’s something I didn’t think I would ever say!

Overall, Singapore’s Dimensions Math Common Core is a good program. The different components ensure understanding and the student’s mathematical success. I recommend this thorough curriculum to any family with students who may need extra help and instruction when it comes to math. Younger students who are advanced would also benefit from this comprehensive program.

-Product review by Jeniffer Do Nascimento, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2017