Math Investigations

Math Investigations is the primary Northwest ISD curriculum resource for mathematics instruction. Kindergarten through Fifth Grade and is taught daily in each district classroom. Our goal is to offer students opportunities to explore meaningful problems in-depth to solve creatively and collaboratively with peers in order to construct personal meaning of mathematics concepts.

This approach is different from that of more traditional curriculum tools, which many adults experienced as children focused on application of formulas, rules, procedures and algorithms. Research shows that when students develop their own ways of solving problems they retain understanding. When students work together with peers to solve problems they evaluate approaches and justify their reasoning, leading to deeper understanding and mathematical fluency. 


Why are Investigations being used to teach my child mathematics? This curriculum gives children different ways to express their thinking. After being given situations for problem-solving, students develop strategies for expressing mathematics, allowing ownership of understanding. Through working with peers, students justify and analyze solutions. As a result, they are able to understand important relationships between concepts. 

How are Math Investigations different from traditional math approaches? Through Investigations, children develop personal meaning of concepts and learn to reason mathematically. They are not taught to rely on set procedures, formulas and rules that mayhave little meaning to them. The same concepts are covered as those in traditional textbooks, only the approach is different. Research shows that students who construct math for themselves are going to gain fluency and remember what they have learned. They will also keep trying to make sense of problems.

How will Math Investigations affect my child? Your child will learn to be a self-directed learner with the ability to approach unfamiliar problems and develop ways to solve them. Your child will also develop communication skills about mathematics, learning to use, represent and explain concepts. Instead of the teacher being the sole authority for answers, each child will learn to rely on logic and mathematical evidence as verification of understanding, becoming a confident learner of mathematics!

How can I help my child at home and what should my child use to study from?Students should review daily activities to reflect on their understanding by discussing classroom experiences with you. Your child may reflect on conversations from the Math Workshop, or possibly show you some of the strategies that the class has used to solve particular problems. Homework will also be assigned regularly to reinforce learning in the classroom.

How is the class period run during the math workshop? During the opening meeting,your childs teacher explains the goals for the math workshop and teaches a mini-lesson, introducing a new concept or skill. The teacher then poses a problem or series of problems for each child to solve based on the conversation during the mini-lesson.

Then during the work period
 your child works individually, with a peer or with a group, to solve the problem presented in the mini-lesson, developing ideas and strategies. The teacher facilitates learning by circulating around the room, working/conferencing with students individually or in small groups.

During the closing meeting, the class regroups to discuss strategies used to solve the days problem, to share misunderstandings and correct them, to make connections to other areas of math and the real world, and to reflect upon what was learned during the lesson. Following this, homework is usually assigned to reinforce and extend what was learned during the day.

Are the children learning the basic skills?
Yes. With experience, each child will learn to remember basic skills by constructing sense of them. Although fluency is more importantthan memorization, occasional drill and review exercises occur during the mathematics workshop to create balance of learning.

Can I observe a mathematics lesson with my childs teacher?
Absolutely! Simply email or write a note in your child's planner to schedule a time convenient for both of you. Math istaught each day and your teacher will work with you to sechedule a convenient time. 

How do absences affect my child? 
When your child is absent, it is extremely difficult to make up work because of the math discoveries and conversation that take place during the math workshop. Investigation lessons are designed to connect from day to day, therefore, when a child is absent he/she does not see connections being made, and as a result, has a harder time participating on the days after an absence. It is important to limit absences to a minimum so that your child may gain a complete understanding of concepts being explored in the classroom.