Public Comment on Investigations 2

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May 27, 2009, 1:45:38 PM5/27/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education
I would strongly encourage all PQME members to stop by the SCASD
Office at 131 W. Nittany to look at the sample Investigations (2nd
Edition) teaching materials before the June 22 Board Meeting. For
each of three grade levels--Kindergarten, 3rd, and 4th grades--there
are about ten paperback books, a student activity binder plus the
teacher's manual (called Implementing Investigations) which, all told,
amounts to three mini "math libraries." I spent about 30 minutes
reading, signed a log, and recorded some brief comments.

In all honesty, I doubt whether any of my specific comments will
matter in the least. But if members of our group read the materials,
sign the log, and register comments, I think it will appear as though
a few citizens have taken the opportunity to "look before they leap."
For the Board, I suspect that the total number of commentors will be
more important than any single comment.

Susan Smith

May 27, 2009, 3:07:29 PM5/27/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education
I was only the second person, after Taylor, to view the material. I
also exhort everyone to look them over. The teacher implementation
guides give overviews of the mathematics covered in each grade. I was
struck by the absence of the standard American algorithm for addition
in the faked student answers in the teaching guides. What would a
teacher do if a child solved a problem with stacks? That is not a
possibility in the Investigations world.

There are also precious few notes to teachers on how to engage more
able students. They have "interventions" for every lesson, but
"extensions" are only for about a quarter of the lessons and they
mostly consist of doing the same thing again and again.

Nikki P.

May 27, 2009, 5:07:12 PM5/27/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education
The office is open M-F from 8 - 4:30. I am very interested in viewing
the curriculum. I wish they had all grades on display.



May 27, 2009, 6:06:22 PM5/27/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education
Only K, 3, 4 grades textbooks were proposed. I think that there is no
plan to have textbooks for G1-2. Grade 5 is a bit more interesing..
Could it be that it is obvious that Inv 2 does not prepare students
for the tests. Anyone knows what was used in the schools where Inv 2
was piloted in the 5th grade?


Steve Piazza

May 28, 2009, 9:59:51 AM5/28/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education
I stopped by the office to review the materials this morning and
encourage everyone to do the same when you get a chance. You go into
the Assistant Superintendent's office on the first floor and then they
set you up in the board room with the Investigations materials and the
/comment sheet. It was actually much more pleasant than my
previous visits to 131 W. Nittany - the secretary who helped me was
very nice, and the temperature in the board room was well under 80
degrees F.

I looked at the 4th grade materials my impression of Investigations
was largely unchanged -- that some of the exercises are quite good but
that too many are far too unchallenging, and that the various
computational skills are introduced far too late. I did note that the
teachers were instructed that they may want to incorporate the U.S.
algorithms into their lessons, but this is done with a needlessly
hostile tone that didn't seem like it would encourage many teachers to
do so. This is really strange to me, because there are algorithms
plainly evident in Investigations, but they are the ones invented by
the authors that the teachers are meant to construct with their
students. These new algorithms take more space to write, but are
supposed to illustrate concepts like place value better, so the U.S.
algorithm should not be introduced until the concepts are completely

After reading the materials, especially the forwards and notes to
teachers, it appears to me that the authors of Investigations have a
lot invested in demonstrating that they have discovered a better way
to teach math, and that they now have to acknowledge that their new
theories are failing their real world test. The 2nd edition includes
"Letters to Families" that explain to parents what is going on with
this strange-looking homework. Multiplication facts are included in
the 2nd ed. (in 4th grade), and the way in which the facts are taught
is with old-style flash cards, but with a line underneath the problem
that says "Start with ________", so if a student has a flash card for
9 x 12, she might write 9 x 10 underneath to help herself to reason
out the answer to 9 x 12. When a student has a fact memorized, that
card goes in the "just know" pile. Nothing wrong with this, it's just
sort of pathetic the way that TERC has basically given in on
memorizing facts while stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that
students will be memorizing.

My overall impression is that we would be better off with a
curriculum that pays similar attention to concepts without dancing
around standard computational methods in order to make points in
support of pedagogical theories.



May 28, 2009, 11:39:36 AM5/28/09
I am from Frederick, MD and found your group through Oak Norton. Frederick County is currently using Investigations 2 in grades K,2, and 4th as a primary curriculum (although they just admitted to that). We also have a group in Frederick fighting TERC/Investigations. If you would like information or if you would like to see some 4th grade worksheets I will be more than happy to send them your way.  I can tell you that 4th grade did not start multiplication until April. We started division about 2 weeks ago, and it went straight to 2 and 3 digit divided by a 2 digit number. Such as 512 divided by 12. No matter what anyone says there is no rhyme or reason as to how this curriculum was written. Fourth grade should have started on Mulitplication and division before Christmas not at the end of the school year. Fractions are non existent, but you will get a great sense of how well your child is doing in addition and subtraction.

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May 29, 2009, 10:38:07 AM5/29/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education
I went to the office this morning to view the books.
The secretary told me that they are only proposing
to use the 2nd edition for grades K, 3 and 4, not
for the rest (grades 1, 2, and 5).

I paid more attention to the 3rd and 4th grade books.
I wouldn't say I noticed obvious improvement in
this edition. A few remarks:

- It is taught at the same slow pace. Division is
first introduce in 4th grade. In Singapore math,
division is in place already in 2A book (first semester
of 2nd grade).
- The program carefully avoids all standard algorithms
at all costs. Many strategies are present, but NOT
the algorithm that we learned.
- There is a lot of emphasis on data collection, and
estimating, instead of precise math computation.
- Most of math homework problem require intensive
writing skills, not math skills.

Since the first version of this program has destroyed
my kids' interest in math, I believe this 2nd version will
do the same. I do not recommend it.


Oak Norton

Jun 1, 2009, 10:01:48 AM6/1/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education
Megan, what a great site at I can't believe I
hadn't found that before...

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