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Investigations math?
Old 03-11-2011, 07:40 PM
 
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I know people may have strong opinions about this program, but I guess that's what I want- whether good or bad. Our district adopted Scott foreman Envisions and Inv. Most are using envisions, but a few of us are considering Inv. why?
1a. envisions has 20 topics-- we think we are covering topics too wide and shallow, and not going in-depth. Not to mention we feel pressure to cover topics by early may when state testing occurs. Inv. Only has 10 topics, and allows for more exploration.
1. Our state (CA) has adopted common core standards, and we know that state tests will soon be more performance based, not multiple choice.
2. We see that our kids are really lacking number sense across grades and content areas.
3. we are interested in more of an investigative/workshop model in math.
4. This would be at 3rd and 4th level

So I'm curious-- what do you all think of Investigations and WHY?


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Old 03-11-2011, 08:17 PM
 
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We use Investigations.

We test in early March (this year-3/2 and 3/3). I had to supplement a lot in order to hit everything that was on the state test. As well, I have to supplement to cover standards on our report card that aren't covered in Investigations.

This is my 3rd year and I still don't like Investigations. The 3rd grade games are boring, according to my kids. (I agree). So, I supplement with more engaging games...

I don't like the data unit. I could go on...

I do like some aspects of it, but felt I did a better job at teaching math before we adopted Investigations. Maybe it just isn't a good fit for ME. I will be tuning in to this thread to hear others' responses.
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Investigations
Old 03-12-2011, 04:04 AM
 
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We have had Investigations for many years and watched our math scores go down steadily. The kids had no number sense. It was used in the earlier grades. Everyone wanted to get rid of it and we finally did. We have a new program now. I am in hopes math skills will improve.
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Not Happy Either
Old 03-12-2011, 04:39 AM
 
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I agree with the previous statements. I have no clue to how my students are going to be able to pass our state test this year.
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Tons of Gaps
Old 03-12-2011, 08:24 AM
 
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We have been "investigating" for many years now. Experienced teachers have basically rewritten many of the units to include eligible content and other key topics that are missing or truly glossed over. As it is written and sold I would give it a failing grade. After several years of filling in, rewriting, and supplementing I would give it a C. Sad that they never ask the teachers who actually teach it for feedback. When first implemented, our scores plummeted. This past year we finally brought them up (with TONS of hard work) to the levels of our preInvestigation days. It seems like such a waste of effort, time, and talent that could have been put into realizing real and significant gains using our old program (same company but different approach). I am so sad for my students who have passed through, even with all of my hard work, and now are struggling in high school because they had such a poor foundation with gaps and holes.

The first 3 years we were basically forced to teach the program as it was given - with almost daily check ins by administrators to make sure that we were doing the program completely as presented. The first year they blamed our shocking test scores on our lack of buy-in to the program and "implementation errors" by poor teachers. So.. they poured more money into training and more time of highly paid administrators monitoring to make sure that we were actually teaching it as written (turning in lesson plans, assessment results, stopping in to observe games and lessons). Guess what? The more we adhered to the program, the farther our test scores dropped. Middle school and then high school teachers started complaining. Parents complained. Teachers begged to "teach" concepts and reinforce lessons and actually introduce and work with concepts that are completely absent in the program. Finally we were able to "supplement" - which really means we were able to put in hundreds of hours of extra time researching, creating, and YES teaching - but all "in addition" to the investigations ... never in place of. So we increased our math minutes by 20 - 25% to fill in the gaps - stealing time from SS/Sci and literacy. Now we have seen some gains but at what cost? I believe that all upper administration involved and EVERY teacher would throw it out and go back to what we had or move on to something else, but of course there is no money in the budgets now and they have spent the last 7 years convincing parents that this is the end all be all program so it is hard for them to reverse course now.

If you implement, please research math standards that are missing and fill them in from the get go.


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Old 03-12-2011, 08:34 AM
 
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It's good to hear others' thoughts. Makes me even more intent to do a better job of supplementing and trusting my own knowledge about what my kids need.
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Investigations
Old 03-12-2011, 09:34 AM
 
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I have been using Investigations for 7 years and I really like it. I've taught K, 1, and 2 in those 7 years. I did not like the program at first. It wasn't until year 4 or 5 that I started getting really comfortable with it. It asks you to change everything you've thought about math and teaching it. That's not a bad thing though.

Many schools see their scores go down when they begin using Investigations. Of course they'll go down! The program should be implemented one year at a time starting in Kindergarten. Asking fifth graders to change the way they think about math is HARD and they often do not do well with the program when they've been given everything to memorize in the past. Those students are the ones that have the hardest time exploring and coming up with their own strategies to solve problems. It can be done, but it's not easy.

My first graders have great number sense and can solve all sorts of problems using the strategies that work for them, not strategies I've given them to memorize.

We had a conversation the other day that caused us to start exploring negative numbers! It was too much for some of my students, but others reference that conversation in other discussions and the ideas they put forth are right!

The teacher who teaches Investigations has to buy into Investigations. Professional Development in Investigations may be key (I know, most districts can't/won't pay for it) but I was able to buy in without it so I know others can too. Being open-minded about the program (which it sounds like you are) will help.

I can say that my own understanding of math concepts has completely changed since buying into Investigations. I was always pretty good at math (I was a good at memorizing). Now I understand why and how it all works. It makes sense. Isn't that how it should be?

Quote:
1. Our state (CA) has adopted common core standards, and we know that state tests will soon be more performance based, not multiple choice.
This is huge. My state has also adopted the Common Core Standards and I think we are well ahead of the game now. The idea behind the Common Core is that students will have a more well-rounded, deep rather than wide, understanding of math. This is what Investigations teaches. My state will not implement the standards for a few years so yes, pro/new2grade is right, we have to make sure all the standards that our state has set are being taught as they are not all presented in Investigations.

You have to do what you believe in. If what you're doing now isn't helping your students, Investigations isn't going to make it worse.

As I am in the minority here on this thread, please feel free to ask me questions. I'd love to help if I can.
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Loving this discussion!
Old 03-12-2011, 11:29 AM
 
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So I get a sense that Investigations has holes- can people be more specific? I think I've read somewhere that it doesn't cover math facts, which we are covering by using number talks and elapsed timed tests. What are the other holes?

Our district actually scores quite high on state tests. So why attempt to change it? We think they are good test takers, but not as much math thinkers-- low number sense, and they may understand a concept in one situation, but not be able to apply it in another situation. For example, we did a lot of arrays when studying mult, but they can't relate that to area later on.
perhaps Investigations isn't the answer, but teaching more investigativeLY?? Or math workshop?
Rather than cover a concept in isolation, test kids, and move on as is our model now, I was hoping Investigations would incorporate several related concepts at once. I think the more relationships kids can make, the higher the understanding. I hope people keep jumping in with thoughts-- I find it fascinating to talk with so many teachers from all over!
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Old 03-12-2011, 02:40 PM
 
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I have the opposite opinion from most who have posted and agree with socks. We were using Investigations (the older version) and recently switched to Envisions. I am not happy with the change and would have preferred to adopt the newer version of Investigations.

I agree that enVisions teaches covers too much and not deeply enough. One lesson on area, move on, one lesson on perimeter, move on.

I felt my second graders were strong mathematical thinkers with Investigations and now much less so.

I realize that with any program there will be weaknesses or places you'll need to supplement, but I felt the overall philosophy of INvestigations was excellent. I can't comment on the specifics of the newer Investigations but from what I saw it looked like they had made a lot of positive changes.
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Old 03-12-2011, 02:54 PM
 
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My district's been using Investigations for 12 years, and the experience there is similar to what most of the PP's are saying. In short, it's been a disaster. We're switching to a new adoption next year (Bridges), and I don't know anyone--teachers or students--who isn't relieved.


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Old 03-12-2011, 02:57 PM
 
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I haven't seen Investigations, but we have Scott foreman Envisions and none of us like it at all. We feel as you do, that it is too broad and shallow. Our kids do not develop a number sense.
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Old 03-12-2011, 04:52 PM
 
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One concept that Investigations emphasizes, I use everyday in my current math curriculum (Harcourt).

You use the equations / algorathims you know to help do mental math:

42+39:

**I know that 42+40=82.

Now we take 1 away because we added 1 before so 82-1=81.

--------

I do agree that Investigations LACKS teaching basic facts and algorithms. 4x3=12, etc...
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I like Investigations
Old 03-12-2011, 05:30 PM
 
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We are only in our second year and it's a bit easier this year since I am teaching first grade again. It really makes students and teachers think about the process behind the problem.
In first grade, you do need to supplement math facts although students do get them through the games. It also doesn't cover telling time which is in the new National standards. Otherwise it really addresses the standards and the standards' focus on critical process thinking. Like anything else...it takes time and you must buy in to the changes!
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Envisions and Investigations
Old 03-12-2011, 06:37 PM
 
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We also adpoted both programs this year, had been using just investigations for many years. We use some of envisions and some investigations. It is hard flip-flopping between all the topics and units, but that is what we do. Our feeling is that the investigations is much deeper than the envisions program. I usually use envisions to introduce and investigations to go deeper. I agree with Socks in a previous post. Teachers have to fully implement investigations to get thte most out of it.
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Holes
Old 03-12-2011, 08:58 PM
 
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The only holes I find in first grade are time and money. Some of you mentioned math facts.

Quote:
I do agree that Investigations LACKS teaching basic facts and algorithms. 4x3=12, etc...

In first grade, you do need to supplement math facts although students do get them through the games.
Why do you need to supplement math facts if they get them through the games? I don't see the point of making students memorize the facts. The point of the games is that they see the facts over and over again (by writing down the equations when they get them) that they become second nature. If they don't have the number sense to be able to figure them out, how are they going to remember memorized facts from year to year? So many posts here on ProTeacher are about students memorizing facts! I don't think I'll ever understand the push for that.
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Lots of supplement
Old 03-12-2011, 10:21 PM
 
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We have used Investigations for 7 or 8 years now, I believe. My team has re-written each unit to supplement with enough to help us feel that we are truly teaching each concept well. In answer to the question about why kids need to know their math facts and why is that repetition important: when our kids come to 3rd grade, some of them still haven't mastered basic addition facts and can't add quickly in their head. In this year, they are supposed to master all multiplication facts through 12. So now we have kids trying to go through addition, subtraction, multiplication facts all in the same year. Why are they important???? When basic math facts are something that you are going to use every single day for the rest of your life, why would you not want them committed to memory?

The games are fine for introduction and a "fun" way to learn, but too many kids are able to slide by and learn very little in this process. I feel the teacher has the ability to feel secure that her kids know everything they need to because everyone is participating, but with many kids, mastery is never being attained.
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Math Facts
Old 03-13-2011, 06:02 AM
 
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I completely disagree. I'm not saying math facts aren't important. I'm saying the act of making students memorize them is unimportant. In my experience, my students learn their facts and they become a part of their long term memory by playing the games and seeing and using the equations over and over again. They have figured them out so many times that they do memorize them without having to use flashcards or songs that have NO MEANING. Our third grade teachers teach multiplication with the same philosophy. They do not have timed math tests to see if they can do the facts. They trust in the program and they get results.

Again, if they don't "get it" through the games that have meaning attached to them, how can we expect the students to memorize the facts and then apply them to other math situations?

I equate memorizing math facts to memorizing words in order to learn how to read. No one can learn to ready by memorizing words, why would we expect our students to learn math by memorizing math facts and algorithms?
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Old 03-13-2011, 06:06 AM
 
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I have used Investigations for 10 years. At 1st it had minimal gaps, now those gaps are huge. We just finished looking at the common core standards for next year. We realized that what we are teaching in 3rd (my current grade) with Investigations, should be taught in 2nd. We will have to fill so many gaps and supplement so much.

I'm not sure why this has happened.
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Just Returned to It
Old 03-13-2011, 08:45 AM
 
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and I like it. It does take a major leap of faith on the part of the teachers, it takes some prep in preparing to teach lessons. It takes a lot more talking than many of us are used to. BUT . . .

. . . my kids are so much better at understanding and explaining their processes and concepts when they "do math."

It takes a long time - I know my grade levels (combined 1 and 2) are more than a month behind the district's desired pacing. But I am so proud of the work they do and the way they talk about it. It totally depends on teacher and parent implementation and support.

It's not as concrete as some programs, there isn't rote memorization. I wish there was more repetition of some things, and preparing the games is a pain in the . . .

I've taught it at 3rd, and like it but felt a need at that point to force the memorization (as remediation). Our district adds algebra with Groundworks, and our level adds fact fluency with Mad Minutes (beginning with addition after the December break).

It's different. It's hard to see any good when we measure with tests that test memorization and algorithms. When I look at their open response answers, I'm (generally) blown away.
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Upper grades vs. lower grades
Old 03-13-2011, 05:18 PM
 
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It seems as if many of the people who are having success or really like this program are teaching at a younger grade level. At the younger grades there does not seem to be the urgency to really keep up with pacing and mastery of concepts with such young students is not stressed. However, in our state the accountability starts in 3rd grade and any missed opportunities or lack of mastery is really magnified in our pretests and benchmarks. We spend most of the fall going back and reteaching concepts from the primary years that Investigations does address (such as make 10 facts, skip counting around the room, and make 20) that the students did not master. That is even before the gaps that need filling in (naming and counting coins, fact families, telling time, etc...) and our own content that needs to be taught before March tests (that begin tomorrow). In testing years, there is just not enough content provided and the gaps are quite large.

A PP asked so here are some examples of gaps that we have had to fill in for just 3rd grade (there are more as students go up in the grades):
Telling Time to the 5 minute interval and minutes/
elapsed time
/money/
counting coins
counting change from a purchase
/types of angles (obtuse/acute/right)
/types of triangles
/congruent figures
/flips-turns-slides
/inequalities (greater than-less than)/
making and reading pictographs
/ordering numbers : least to greatest or greatest to least
/fact families
/math vocabulary
/answering open ended questions with explanations
/even and odd numbers
/number patterns
/probability
/reading and writing numbers greater then 1,000

The games are probably appropriate for younger students but for intermediate students there are many who go through the motions of the games with very little carry over of concepts to independent work. I do like many of the games but the structure of having 3 workshop days in a row every few lessons really cuts into our ability to get in all eligible content before state tests.

My own DD's went through school learning this way and while both honors students they are struggling in middle school (and now 9th grade for my older DD) advanced math classes. The gaps seem to get larger and larger as the years go on.
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Investigations
Old 08-16-2011, 05:08 PM
 
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We just found out today we are dropping Envisions and starting Investigations next week. We have never done it and are going out of our minds. I hear both pros and cons... So my question is: What can we do to make it easier. If anyone has help (lessons for first couple of weeks) we would be grateful. We have so many new initiatives this year we are all on edge. I teach Kindergarten. Any help my team would be eternally grateful!!(That's from Toy Story)
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