Agnes Irwin’s Lower School to Launch New Math Curriculum in Spring 2021

A brand new, forward-thinking math curriculum is set to debut in the Lower School this spring. Investigations in Number, Data and Space, 3rd Edition, or Investigations 3 is a focused and rigorous K-5 math curriculum that improves both the learning and teaching of math.

According to Lower School Director Elizabeth Elizardi, the new curriculum is designed to expand language through mathematical mindsets. “We ask our students to be active participants in the authoring of mathematics. The language is symbols, words, number lines, diagrams, a lot more than just numbers.”

Lower School Learning Specialist Rebecca Harrison said the biggest difference in the new program is the emphasis that Investigations 3 puts on helping children make sense of math.

“The goal is to develop mathematical thinkers with deep number sense with hands-on, engaging games and activities that develop both computational fluency and students' mathematical reasoning skills,” Harrison said. “While most math programs teach multiple ways to solve a problem, Investigations places greater emphasis on strategy flexibility in order to develop number sense.”

Many would solve 12 x 15 using a traditional algorithm because we were taught that procedure, Harrison explained. Investigations, however, will encourage students to use what they know about numbers to come up with alternative strategies. For example, some students might use the distributive property to break the number 15 apart into factors of 10 and 5: (12 x 10) + (12 x 5) = 120 + 60 = 180.

The Investigations 3 curriculum allows students to become mathematical thinkers. The main emphasis is on developing reasoning, and being able to understand and reason through the math ideas.

One such activity is “Factor Bingo,” a fourth grade game that develops students' computational fluency in multiplication. Students flip a card that shows a number and then cover a factor of that number on their bingo game board. It is more fun than rote memorization of math facts, but will accomplish the same goal.

The main emphasis of the Investigations 3 curriculum is on developing reasoning, and being able to understand and reason through the math ideas. The program focuses on a set of Investigations by grade, supported by a workshop model that builds mathematical excitement in students. Through open, inquiry-based tasks teachers introduce the problem before the method, making it visual through hands-on games and manipulatives.

Engaging lessons in geometry, data analysis, measurement and early algebra are combined with professional development tools for teachers to engage in ongoing learning about math content, pedagogy and student learning. Investigations 3 lets teachers assess what students do and do not yet know in a variety of ways. Teachers use checklists and benchmarks to assess via observation. They can provide brief quizzes that familiarize students with test question formats, and can give assessments that ask students to show and explain their work.

Harrison said grades K-4 will begin with the topic of geometry to kick start the new math curriculum this school year after returning from Spring Break. Next year, all eight units of the curriculum in grades K-4 will be implemented. 

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