Easily introduce the Singapore Bar Model in your classroom
Lachy Fitzpatrick
Co-founder and CEO
In case it’s been a while since you’ve come across the Singapore Bar Model, it’s a visual tool to represent
worded number and algebra problems. Part of its value is how effectively it can visually represent a wide range
of problems.
According to reSolve there are four elements that can be included in a bar model.
1. Part-Whole Model: used to show the parts of a whole.
Part-whole bar model
2. Comparison Model: used to compare two wholes.
Comparison bar model.
3. Change Model: used to represent a change in one or more quantities. (Note that the ‘totals’ shown on the right can be used on any bar model.)
Change bar model.
4. Stack model: used to represent multiple wholes.
Stack bar model.
The stack model can also be represented horizontally.
It is important to note that sometimes there is more than one way to represent a problem.
The biggest learning curve of the Singapore Bar Model is knowing when to use each model. Fortunately, reSolve
has done this work for you! In their resource kit they have mapped out examples of each of these models and how
they are used depending on the question.
Here’s an example from the reSolve resources.
An example of using the bar model to solve a word problem from Lesson 1 of reSolve’s 8 lessons.
reSolve is an innovative national program that promotes relevant and engaging mathematics teaching and learning
from Foundation to Year 10. It is a collaboration of the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian
Association of Mathematics Teachers.
The resources that reSolve provides for secondary teachers are quite comprehensive and 100% curriculum aligned.
The best bit is that they include prepackaged lessons ready to go!
They include the following documents:
You can find the complete reSolve
resource pack by clicking here… but beforehand you should keep reading to find out about Conceptua
Math’s bar model digital manipulative which is an easy and free way to provide students with a great exploration
and practice tool.
Conceptua Math offers engaging activities, research-based mathematical models, and most importantly to me, it
empowers teachers to use all of them in conversation with their students.
Conceptua Math’s free bar model tool can be used to teach and work through most of the reSolve resources
digitally. It provides an interactive bar model creation and manipulation tool that helps students develop their
bar modelling skills.
A screenshot Conceptua Math's bar model tool.
Conceptua Math’s free bar model tool can be used to teach and work through most of the reSolve resources digitally. It provides an interactive bar model creation and manipulation tool that helps students develop their bar modelling skills.
An example of solving a problem from reSolve with Conceptua Math's tool.
Below is another example from reSolve that shows off some of reSolve’s algebra resources from Lesson 3 and how they can be represented in Conceptua Math. We’ve demonstrated representing it in Conceptua Math in two useful ways.
Using a comparison model to represent the problem.
Using a part-whole model to represent the problem.
There are a series of short tutorials that are worth going through before using Conceptua Math. You can find them here.
This tool is great to allow students to work easily and interactively with the bar model. It scaffolds the
process of creating the bar models such that students are able to quickly pick up the concepts and processes.
The tick at the bottom of page also allows them to check whether their solution is self-consistent.
You can find
Conceptua Math’s bar model tool here.
There are two main considerations you should take into account before diving in.
Firstly, Conceptua Math’s tool was designed for students up to grade 5. So although we have used it for algebra
it can be limited in the complexity of the problems that it can be used to solve.
Secondly, as with any digital tool, make sure your students can transfer their knowledge to pen and paper. One
way to do this is to use Conceptua Math’s tool to demonstrate and introduce the Bar Model, get your students use
the digital tool to experiment and build their confidence with the Bar Model, and then have your students solve
problems without the digital tool on paper.
The Singapore Bar Model is a brilliant tool to use when solving number and algebra word problems and reSolve has done an amazing job providing a set of free, curriculum aligned resources ready to go for class. It is further enhanced with the use of the digital manipulative for bar models provided for free by Conceptua Math. Have fun checking them all out!