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How to learn maths from matchsticks?


Mathematics can be challenging. Whether you are learning how to multiply double-digit numbers, calculating the volume of a cube or figuring out the value of cosine, there are a variety of tips and tricks that we find useful. At NACIS, we know that all students learn at their own pace and in their own way. We also know that sometimes the transition between primary and secondary schools, particularly in subjects like maths, can be scary for our students as well. 


To help our students succeed, we take a highly personalised and interdisciplinary approach to mathematics and other core subjects.


The NACIS Mathematics Team has created the Formative Assessment of Study Thinking (FAST) platform to promote the development of primary and secondary students based on their learning needs, abilities and interests. FAST provides unique interactive exercises before, during and after learning for each unit that assesses how well they have grasped the content. Teachers can then use this data to better tailor and personalise their teaching methods to each student.


Students at NACIS are encouraged to understand what learning methods work for them, which is done through a process of experience and self-reflection. One way we challenge students to do this is through interdisciplinary learning methods.


For example, in a grade 4 mathematics class, students were learning about pi. Students were encouraged to use different creative expressions to show their interpretation of the infinite decimal. Some students drew each digit of pi on grid paper to form a colorful image, while others turned it into a song by allocating each piano key to a number of pi.


In another class, we also used matchsticks to challenge students to solve problems in unique ways. Over the course of three weeks, students competed with one another to use matchsticks to create Chinese characters, and then were tasked with changing it into another character just by moving a matchstick. This exercise not only focused on mathematics but also improved concentration, spatial thinking, problem-solving ability and instilled confidence in the students.


In primary, we encourage students to not do exercises blindly, or in other words, not to do them without thinking about the exercise. Getting the right answer to a problem does not always mean that you are really good at something. We believe that students should not only learn the answers, but also master the different ways to get to those answers.

- Mr. Kris, Acting Head of Primary National


Part of our learning in every subject is the ability to reflect on the work completed to see if there is an alternative or better way to complete the task. 


This is especially important in Maths where students must use complex strategies to solve problems and arrive at the solution.


On the one hand, sorting out mistakes is a reflection on specific knowledge, learning tasks and results. From a deeper perspective, it can also be a summary of thinking styles, problem-solving strategies, etc. When children encounter difficulties in solving problems again, they can consciously go back to the relevant steps, analyze their own way of thinking, and make timely adjustments. Only by mastering the learning strategy flexibly can you become the master of learning.


- Ms. Elva, Acting Deputy Head of Primary National



How do we prepare students for transition?


NACIS Executive Superintendent Mr. Christopher:

One of the advantages of NACIS being a through school is that our Primary and Secondary teams can work closer together to ensure that children continue to progress in their Maths learning.

Children in Grade 5 are introduced to our Grade 6 teachers and information on each child is shared from Primary to Secondary. Students start Grade 6 much more confident and able to continue to learn effortlessly.

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