Professional Development in the Curriculum

One of the guiding principles of the Investigations curriculum reads:

“Teachers are engaged in ongoing learning about mathematics content, pedagogy, and student learning. The curriculum provides material for professional development, to be used by teachers individually or in groups, that supports teachers’ continued learning as they use the curriculum over several years. The Investigations curriculum materials are designed as much to be a dialogue with teachers as to be a core of content for students.” (Implementing Investigations, p. 1.)

Because Investigations aims “to provide support that helps teachers improve their own understanding of the mathematics that they are teaching and the learning that they observe in their students,” (ibid, p. 8) the following materials are included in the curriculum:

  • Mathematics in This Unit. This essay describes the mathematical ideas that students’ work will be focused on. (See a Grade 4 example.)
  • Algebra Connections in This Unit. This essay explains how the activities and ideas in the number & operations and patterns, functions, & change units lay a foundation for students’ later work with algebra. (See a Kindergarten example.)
  • Assessment in This Unit. These pages review the assessment opportunities, and list the benchmarks for students learning. (See a Grade 5 example.)
  • Math Focus Points*. These bulleted math ideas make the purpose of the session, and the focus of each discussion, explicit.
  • Observing the Students*. This feature identifies the math focus of an activity and lists questions to consider while observing students who are working on it.
  • Differentiation: Supporting the Range of Learners*. This feature offers ideas for intervention or extensions, as well as ideas for helping English Language Learners.
  • Math, Teaching, & Algebra Notes*. These brief margin notes address math content, discuss student thinking, and share teaching tips.
  • Teacher Notes. Often written in response to issues that arose in field-test classrooms, these essays provide practical information about math content and how students learn it. (See a 1st grade example.)
  • Dialogue Boxes. Based on actual classroom interactions, these essays illustrate how students express mathematical ideas, typical confusions, and how some teachers have chosen to guide particular discussions. (See a 3rd grade example.)
  • Implementing Investigations. This book includes an overview of the year’s math content, a set of K-5 Teacher Notes, and a set of teacher-written cases about working with the range of learners.

(Implementing Investigations, pp. 2-3, 7-9.)

*Examples of most of these Session-level features can be seen in any of the grade level Sample Sessions. (See a sample session at grade K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

“The best use of good curriculum materials is in the context of a long-term staff development program which engages teachers in ongoing reflection about students’ mathematical thinking and continued work on mathematics content with their peers.” (Russell, 1997.)