AME - SMS Conference 2015

Developing 21st Century Competencies in the Mathematics Classroom


Keynote I (General)

Doing Maths or Thinking Maths?

Mrs Belinda Charles,
Academy of Principals (Singapore)

Abstract: Teachers commonly present maths to students as a way of working out a sum or a problem and often dwell on the procedure and the steps. When this is done without sufficient reference to the larger mathematical thinking undergirding it, students learn only a solution, not a way of thinking. Is this good enough in a VUCA world?

Keynote II (Secondary)

Mathematics education, virtues and 21st century competencies

Dr Stephen Thornton
University of Oxford

Abstract: As a mathematics teacher I am faced with three types of decisions every moment of every day: first are educational decisions about how best to teach a concept or skills to help students understand or solve a problem; second are mathematical decisions about why this piece of mathematics is important and how it fits with other mathematical ideas; third are ethical and philosophical decisions about what is worth learning and for what reason. The Singapore Framework for 21st Century Competencies and Student Outcomes captures much of this in its emphasis on the core values that lie at the heart of the competencies and outcomes. In this keynote I will argue that the outcomes of confidence, self-direction, citizenship and active contribution to society can only be achieved through rigorous intellectual engagement with core disciplines, particularly mathematics. I will draw on the work of educational philosophers Alasdair MacIntyre and Hugh Sockett to show how mathematics contributes to and embodies intellectual and moral virtues such as truth, justice, courage, and impartiality. I will discuss the practical implications for the everyday decisions that need to be made by teachers of mathematics.

Keynote IV (Secondary)

The Continuing Relevance of Mathematics in the 21st Century

Dr Hang Kim Hoo
NUS High School of Mathematics and Science

Abstract: Is Mathematics still relevant in the 21st century? The immediate response is almost surely a ‘yes’ across all segments of society. How much is and how far can the mathematics that a person know continues to be relevant in the 21st century? The answer to this second question is not going to be uniform or straight forward. Within the larger context of developing 21st century competencies among all students in Singapore schools, this keynote address will focus, from a practitioner perspective, on why, what and how learning, doing and using mathematics can be further refreshed, to address both the attainment of mathematics education and the acquisition of the 21st century competencies. The current Singapore Mathematics Framework (2003) will be revisited to highlight how some current mathematics classroom practices, and the respective platforms, can be reinvented or further enhanced to help students acquire the 21st century competencies through learning, doing and using mathematics. Some challenges faced by the mathematics teaching fraternity in their attempt to infuse the teaching of 21st century competencies in the mathematics classrooms will be highlighted and discussed with proposals on possible strategies to overcome these challenges.

Keynote III (Junior College)

Bridging gaps between mathematics and the classroom

Professor Fidel Nemenzo
University of the Philippines

Abstract: How do we bridge, in our own small ways, the divide between mathematics research and mathematics education? Maths researchers and educators are seldom involved or interested in each other’s activities. Mathematicians hardly read up on the latest ideas and innovations in teaching. On the other hand, many mathematics educators too, show little interest in mathematics as growing and vibrant area of research. Today the gap between the ‘two cultures’ takes place within a more general problem: the fragmentation of learning, brought about by specialization and the different languages we speak. In this talk, I will convey the message that mathematicians and mathematics educators should work together to promote an understanding and appreciation of mathematics as a language, tool and a way of seeing that continues to grow and transform our world. I will also give a personal account of what I have learned, as a mathematician, about teaching, and how my own practice of mathematics and my experiences as a teacher have changed, and continue to change my view of mathematics.

Keynote V (Junior College)

The challenges and opportunities of developing the 4C’s in the Math Classroom

Professor Victor Tan
National University of Singapore

Abstract: The 4C’s refer to Critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating and collaborating. These are essentially the learning skills under the 21st century competencies. Many math teachers may find it challenging to help their students developing these skills in their math class. In this talk, the speaker will share his thought on the issues encountered by the teachers in teaching these skills. He will also give some examples how to design classroom activities and assessments that will help to enhance the 4C’s in students.

Keynote VI (Primary)

21st Century Competencies and Singapore Mathematics Curriculum

Professor Lee Ngan Hoe
National Institute of Education

Abstract: Based on the 21st Century Competencies Framework and the Singapore Mathematics Curriculum Framework established by the Singapore Ministry of Education, an effort to establish the link between the two will be presented at this talk. This would provide a basis for teachers to see the relevance of 21st Century Competencies in the Singapore Mathematics classroom. The talk will then present some instructional approaches that teachers could employ to support the development of 21st Century Competencies in the context of the Primary Mathematics classrooms.

Keynote VII (Primary)

Developing 21st Century Competencies in Primary Mathematics Classrooms

Dr Yeap Ban Har
Marshall Cavendish Institute / Pathlight School.

Abstract: What are the features of such a classroom? What is the research supporting classroom practices that promote the so-called 21st Century Competencies? This lecture describes and provides the research underpinning of classroom features and lesson format as well as teacher actions that have potential in developing such competencies amongst primary school students. Using examples across grade levels, the speaker will show how lessons that help students learn new concepts as well as drill-and-practice lessons and problem-solving lessons can be structured to develop and improve students 21st Century Competencies. The idea of anchor tasks and three-part lesson format will be discussed