numeracy workshop

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    At The Project School, we are committed to teaching students to understand the essential concepts of numbers and computation, geometry, data, problem-solving, measurement, and early investigations into algebra. To do this well, the teaching of mathematics has its own workshop time, as well as an intentional focus in the P3 curriculum.
     
    The Numeracy Workshops use the published curriculum Investigations in Number, Data, and Space® developed at TERC (Technical Education Research Centers) by curricular developers and mathematicians. According to the Investigations Web site:
     
    The Investigations program embodies the vision of the rigorous national standards for mathematics developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Investigations is based on an extensive body of research on how students learn mathematics. It is carefully designed around key ideas to invite all students into mathematics, providing opportunities and experiences organized to develop mathematical proficiency.
     
    In each unit, students explore the central topics in depth through a series of investigations, encountering and using important mathematical ideas. Students actively engage in mathematical reasoning to solve complex mathematical problems. They represent, explain, and justify their thinking, using mathematical tools and appropriate technology. Investigations provide meaningful, repeated practice of basic facts and skills through activities and games. The investigations allow significant time for students to think about the problems and to model, draw, write, and talk with peers and the teacher about their mathematical thinking.
     
    After reviewing multiple textbook series and consulting with professors of mathematics at Indiana University, the Investigations series most closely aligns with our core beliefs about how children learn best. The constructivist nature of this program, along with its comprehensive units of study, works in concert with the inquiry-based foundations of the P3 curricular framework. Because of the diverse nature of the population we serve, the Investigations curriculum provides the most comprehensive opportunities to differentiate instruction based on the individual needs of the students.
     
    Research (http://investigations.terc.edu)
     
    Research on the effects of Investigations in Number, Data, and Space® is based on a variety of measures of student achievement and learning, including state-mandated standardized tests, research-based interview protocols, items from research studies published in peer-reviewed journals, and specially constructed paper-and-pencil tests. This body of research includes classroom studies, large-scale comparisons across schools, and small-scale comparisons between classrooms.

    Together, the studies of Investigations in Number, Data, and Space® indicates that students using this program:
    • Do as well or better than students using other curricula in straight calculation problems involving basic facts and the whole number operations.
    • Have a better understanding of numbers and number relationships than students working with more traditional programs.
    • Achieve greater accuracy on word problems and on more complex calculations than students in comparison classrooms.
    • Outperform students in schools not using Investigations (or other NSF-funded elementary mathematics curricula) on a high-stakes standardized test administered in Massachusetts.
    • This program works equally well with students at different achievement levels in mathematics.
    While the Investigations in Number, Data and Space revised curriculum is very new and we are awaiting specific research on the this revised edition there currently exists rigorous research around National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Standards based models of which Investigations is one.

    Please find below a brief sample of that research:
    • “There is a long history of research, going back to the 1940s and the work of William Brownell, on the effects of teaching for meaning and understanding in mathematics. Investigations have consistently shown that an emphasis on teaching for meaning has positive effects on student learning, including better initial learning, greater retention, and an increased likelihood that the ideas will be used in new situations. These results have also been found in studies conducted in high-poverty areas.” (Grouws & Cebulla, 2000, p. 13)
    • “Students who memorize facts or procedures without understanding often are not sure when and how to use what they know, and such learning is often quite fragile.” (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999, cited in NCTM, 2000, p. 20)
    • “On tests of conceptual understanding and problem solving, students who learn from reform curricula consistently outperform students who learn from traditional curricula by a wide margin. On tests of basic skills, there are generally no significant differences between students who learn from traditional or reform curricula.” (Schoenfeld, 2002)
    To ensure that the comprehensive approach to teaching mathematics increases student achievement, we use multiple forms of assessment, including: informal and formal observations, unit assessments, ISTEP+ and NWEA.