Teachers did not realize the importance of relating the lesson to the real life experience of the students. Later, educators and philosophers realized that the content of math education should be close to the students’ personal experience or to realia, hence math education geared towards a more practical approach in which learning concepts were discussed and examples from real life experiences were given. Today, efforts to improve mathematics teaching have grown immeasurably, thus allowing teachers to teach math effectively. This paper discusses some of the modern approaches useful for attaining goals in the upper primary math classrooms. In particular, the approaches mentioned are relevant to the teaching of Mathematics in the upper primary level in (name of school), which is located in Brunei Darussalam.
The Mathematics curriculum in (name of school) adopts a modern approach to teaching. In particular, the curriculum emphasizes the teaching of math in relation to the real life setting. This means giving particular attention to how math is used in the real world, such as government, business, home, and school. In the curriculum for upper primary (Grades 4–6) students, the syllabus includes topics that relate to real life experiences of using numbers and math concepts. Specifically, the goals of instruction include the following:
• Communication of math ideas in oral and written form
This denotes the use of modern approaches that promote communication among students, especially in spoken language. Such approaches include Cooperative Learning, Cooperative Learning entails class activities that allow students to interact with each other and perform tasks in groups. Murdoch and Wilson (n.d.) define cooperative learning as an approach that requires students to work together towards a common goal. Merely working in groups without specific goals and measurements cannot be considered cooperative learning. For activities to be considered as cooperative learning activities, they should have clearly set goals and rules, for instance, each student in the group plays an important role in the performance of a particular activity. One way of applying Cooperative Learning is asking students to solve math problems. For example, students will be asked to solve for the average of annual GDP growth of the country in 10 years. In the given problem, each member of the group will be assigned to solve the GDP growth for (a) particular year/s. Hence, in a group of four, one can be assigned to solve for the growth from 2002-2005, another for 2005-2008, still another for 2008-2012, then finally another member averages the total GDP growth from his/her classmates. This way, each member of the group contributes effort and knowledge to come up with the final answer. The answer to the problem cannot be obtained without the output of each individual. Thus, assigning each member a role will make the student collaborate with others. Without the contribution of each member, the group will not be able to arrive at the final answer. Brown and Ciuffetelli (2009) and Siltala (2010) identify five basic and