We often talk to and hear from teachers, coaches, and administrators who are just beginning their work with the Investigations curriculum. Taking on a new curriculum is challenging work even if you have taught a previous edition; while the content may be familiar, teachers have never taught these particular lessons, in this particular order before. They must read and prepare anew, for a whole school year. People in this situation often ask us, what advice do you have about the first year of implementation? What’s the most important? What’s the most helpful? We recently heard from a math coach in a district new to Investigations 3. Their plan involved implementing at Kindergarten and grade 1 in year 1; grades 2 and 3 in year 2; and grades 4 and 5 in year 3. At the end of year 1, she asked the K-1 teachers in her school what they had learned, and what they would tell others who were entering their first year. This advice was passed on to the Grade 2-3 teachers, who have now added to that list. We thank them for sharing it with us, and allowing us to share it with you.
- Investigations is a series of investigations. Students explore in order to deepen their own thinking, understanding of, and reasoning about mathematics.
- Ideas will circle back…and back…and back.
- There really is a cohesion and coherence to this curriculum – you have to use it to see it.
- Students will learn mathematics.
- Teachers will learn mathematics.
- Teachers will learn about students’ thinking about mathematics.
- Students will learn from and with each other and deepen their understanding through that.
- Trust the curriculum!
Pacing and timing
- Start on day 1 (or 2 or 3, but no later).
- Dedicate the full math block to math learning through Investigations.
- Fidelity! Stick with the curriculum – no more, no less (remember: Curriculum Diet; No Pinterest or TPT or anything else. JUST Investigations materials).
- Be sure to get to each part of the curriculum each day.
- Do the Classroom Routines and Ten-Minute Math regularly. They not only build on each other through the year, but they support the learning in the lessons/activities in the classroom. Make them a regular part of your schedule! Write them in.
- PLAN ahead!
- Work out a structure for Math Workshop (sign up, partnering, seating, materials distribution or location) that is consistent.
- Create math partnerships in your classroom.
- Create a parking lot for ideas that come up that you can’t answer or deal with right away. Use it.
- Figure out how you will manage the Student Activity Book…but be open to changing it.
- Keep games out and accessible through the unit and, for some games, through the year.
- Have a structure for organizing and storing materials that makes them accessible to students.
- Get familiar with the online materials (Pearson Realize). Just about everything you need is on there. It is especially helpful for the Classroom Routines and Ten-Minute Math.
- Prep materials (manipulatives, cards, quizzes, game directions) ahead of time.
- It is helpful to download all the PDFs for a unit before the unit starts.
- Read through the work ahead of time. The curriculum units are filled with important information. You can’t just skim/prep in 10 min.
- Do the math!
- Plan for discussions. Plan for them while students are working: select particular students’ work to highlight particular ideas, make more intentional and focused.
You need support too!
- Talk to each other as often as possible!
- If you have one, use your coach, and work collaboratively with colleagues to plan. Meet weekly and schedule that in for the year.
- No question is a dumb question. Ask, ask, ask!
Speaking of support… We hope that our new online community can be a source of support for folks who don’t have a team, or colleagues with the time to be part of a team, or a coach or specialist working to support math teaching and learning. Come share ideas, ask questions, solicit the advice of peers, benefit from the experience of others, and participate in conversations about using the Investigations curriculum as a tool for improving the teaching and learning of mathematics for all students.