Investigations Blog

A Space for All of Us: Setting Up the Classroom Environment

“The space has to be a sort of aquarium that mirrors the ideas, values, attitudes, and cultures of the people who live in it.” – Loris Malaguzzi, The Hundred Languages of Children. The start of the school year is an exciting time for teachers, children, and families. I remember the joy of putting together an inviting, student-centered room. Early in my teaching career this meant shopping for folders, name tags, borders and cutouts, and countless hours designing bulletin boards and displays....

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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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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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Asked and Answered: Why Ask the Same Question When You’ve Already Gotten a Perfectly Good Answer?

I was watching one of those legal shows on TV the other night. The prosecutor was asking the defendant a version of the same question for the third time. The defendant’s lawyer, getting annoyed, objected: “Asked and answered!” I’ve heard this phrase a hundred times in the (made-up TV) legal context, but this was the first time it struck me how pervasive this idea was in my own mathematics education, and how powerful it still is: If a student has given a perfectly good answer to a math...

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