Investigations Blog

Developing Norms in the Investigations 3 Classroom

Our first blog about norms discussed ways to work with students to establish norms that support the development of an equitable and inclusive mathematics learning community. In this blog, we share some of the ways the Investigations curriculum supports teachers in doing that work. In the first few days and weeks of school, students in Investigations classrooms work independently, with partners, and in small groups; make choices and use materials during Math Workshop; and participate in...

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Ready, Set, Norms!

The beginning of the year is an exciting time; one that offers us an opportunity to get to know our students. As we learn their interests, cultures, developing identities, and preferences we are simultaneously thinking about how we can create an equitable learning community that values and respects varied ideas, competencies, and contributions. A critical component of an inclusive classroom community is the development of norms. Many of us remember the beginning of school as a time when...

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Establishing an Equitable Learning Community in the Investigations Classroom

The question is not whether all students can succeed in mathematics but whether the adults organizing mathematical learning opportunities can alter traditional beliefs and practices to promote success for all. (NCTM 2014 Principles to Actions) The development of children’s mathematical ideas is at the heart of the Investigations curriculum which supports teachers in deepening their understanding of the mathematics they teach and how their students come to understand it. Equitable learning...

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“Why are there so much 1s in these numbers?”

Last spring, I visited a Kindergarten classroom near the end of the year. Students were participating in a Math Workshop focused on the teen numbers, choosing among activities that asked them to identify and recognize teen numbers; to represent them in several different ways (e.g. on Ten Frames, with cubes, with numerals); and, ultimately, to come to see them as being composed of ten ones and some numbers of ones.  I wandered over to Stella, who was playing Race to the Top: Teen Numbers. In...

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Getting Started: What’s Critical at the Beginning of the Year? Part 2

We recently asked a group of experienced Investigations teachers the following question: How do you think about creating a math community? What’s critical, particularly at the beginning of the year? In Part 1, we shared their thoughts about setting up the classroom, organizing the math materials, and establishing and maintaining norms. Here, we share their thoughts about Math Workshop and discussions – two structures they cited as critical to a successful and productive math learning...

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Getting Started: What’s Critical at the Beginning of the Year? Part 1

In our summer work with teachers, many of whom are new to Investigations and/or are rethinking the way they teach mathematics, we get lots of questions. Some come up after reading about a structure like Math Workshop, or seeing a list of materials needed for Unit 1. Others arise after “visiting” a classroom – via a Dialogue Box or video of a classroom. For example: How did students learn to discuss math ideas, and listen to each other, like that? Pairs were working independently, all over the...

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When the Math Is What’s Exciting

I’ve been really lucky to spend time in a grade 1 classroom this spring, as they tackle the final number unit of the year. 1U7 is the culmination of students’ work with addition, subtraction, and place value. Building on the work of the earlier number units, it introduces some big, important ideas, many of which are new to the 3rd edition of grade 1. These are first graders who had the 3rd edition in Kindergarten and now have a self-proclaimed lover of math, who is teaching the 3rd edition for...

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“This is Only Getting Better!…And Harder!”

Who knew a deck of +10/-10 cards could be so exciting? A group of 25 first graders, that’s who. As their teacher, Karla, introduced them to Plus or Minus 10, she explained that they would need numeral cards (10-90), cubes (assembled in sticks of ten), and a new deck of cards. When she displayed the +10/-10 cards, the students, many of them on their knees, some literally bouncing up and down and clapping, were clearly excited. Oooo… Whoa… Plus ten… Minus ten. I hear two students exclaim This is...

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Developing Mathematical Language is Hard Work

Using language to effectively communicate one’s mathematical thinking is an important skill—one that is a focus of Math Practice 6: Attend to Precision. Many of us know firsthand that clearly articulating mathematical ideas is challenging work, and that when students use ambiguous, imprecise terms in their explanations, their language can actually get in the way of understanding. Developing precise language is key if we want to students to engage in rich, collaborative discussions in which...

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And Then, She Waited

Have you ever been teaching (or leading professional development) and asked a really good question only to be met with silence? We all have teacher moves in our back pocket for situations like this—maybe do a turn and talk, ask the student if they’d like to call on someone to help them, or ask a different question. I recently observed a third grade lesson when I saw a teacher face this exact situation. The lesson (Unit 5, Session 3.4) focused on strategies for solving division problems. The...

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