Last Updated on 18 November 2023
Algebra is a branch of mathematics that uses symbols and letters to represent numbers, variables, and operations. It is often considered as one of the most challenging topics in math, especially for students who are used to solving problems using arithmetic. However, algebra is not as difficult as it seems, if you know how to use the right strategies and tools.
One of the most effective tools for learning algebra is the model method, also known as the bar model or the Singapore math model method. The model method is a visual way of representing and solving algebra problems using rectangular bars. It helps students to understand the relationships between the unknowns and the given information, and to apply logical reasoning and arithmetic skills to find the solutions.
The model method was developed in Singapore in the 1980s, and has been widely used in the Singapore math curriculum since then. It has also been adopted by many other countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan, as a way to enhance students’ mathematical thinking and problem-solving skills.
The model method can be used to solve various types of algebra problems, such as linear equations, simultaneous equations, quadratic equations, word problems, and more. In this article, we will show you some examples of how to use the model method to solve different kinds of algebra problems, and how to help your child master algebra using this tool.
How can I teach my child to use the model method?
The model method is a great way to help your child learn algebra by using visual representations of the problem. Here are some steps you can follow to teach your child how to use the model method:
First, explain to your child what the model method is and why it is useful. You can say something like this: “The model method is a way of drawing bars to show the relationships between the numbers and the unknowns in an algebra problem. It helps us to see what is given, what is asked, and how to find the answer.”
Second, show your child some examples of how to use the model method to solve different types of algebra problems. You can, for instance, use the video below to show how the model method works for word problems.
Third, let your child practice using the model method on their own. Encourage your child to explain their reasoning and show their work as they solve the problems.
Fourth, review your child’s work and give them feedback. Praise your child for their efforts and correct any mistakes they might have made. You can also ask them questions to help them deepen their understanding, such as “How did you decide what to draw?”, “What does this bar represent?”, or “How can you check your answer?”
Fifth, repeat the process until your child becomes confident and proficient in using the model method. You can also challenge your child with more complex problems or different variations of the model method, such as using fractions, decimals, or negative numbers.
What are some common mistakes students make with the math model method?
Some common mistakes students make in algebra are:
- Skipping the model drawing or illustrations to “save time” or drawing a badly labelled illustration. This can result in loss of marks, as the examiners may not understand what the students are trying to express or how they arrived at their answers.
- Using the wrong type of model for the given problem. There are two main types of models: part-whole and comparison. Part-whole models are used to show the relationship between parts and a whole, while comparison models are used to show the difference or ratio between two or more quantities. Students need to identify the key information and keywords in the problem to decide which type of model to use.
- Drawing models that are not proportional or consistent. The models should reflect the relative sizes and values of the quantities involved. For example, if one unit represents 10, then all the units in the model should represent 10. Similarly, if one quantity is twice as large as another, then the corresponding model should show that clearly.
- Not checking the models for accuracy and completeness. Students should always check their models against the problem statement and the question asked. They should also ensure that they have labelled the models correctly and have shown all the necessary calculations and steps.
Remember, the model method is not the only way to solve algebra problems, but it is a powerful tool that can enhance your child’s mathematical thinking and problem-solving skills. Have fun and enjoy learning algebra with your child!
A big fan of MOOC, I am intrigued by how technology has transformed education and makes learning fun again.