Friday, February 10, 2012

Math problems of the week: 4th grade Investigations vs. Singapore Math

I. A 4th  grade (TERC) Investigations assignment, assigned in mid January [click to enlarge]:


II. From the beginning of the 4th grade Singapore Math Primary Mathematics 4A workbook (p. 40) [click to enlarge]:

III. Extra Credit:

Relate the educational opportunities presented by the Investigations assignment to this article in today's New York Times on the widening achievement gap between America's rich and poor. To what extent do Reform Math programs like Investigations serve as "great equalizers"?

3 comments:

KimS said...

This lesson, and its cousin in 5th grade on subtraction, incensed me when I read them because of the intent of the Investigations lesson. The Investigations lesson has the teacher lead the kids in a discussion of the different methods their parents used to solve the problem, making sure to point out the standard algorithm (which they continually and erroneously call the traditional US algorithm).

Teachers are instructed to call attention to the standard algorithm and make sure that students notice how is obscures place value by "carrying a 1" and how it is neither concise nor clear.

Contrast that with Singapore Math where kids just solve a bunch a problems to practice what they've learned in class, and, as there are more than 3 questions, help their teachers see where their understanding might be lacking.

Barry Garelick said...

The New York Times article just leaves it as a big puzzle as to why there is disparity in educational achievement based on income levels. There is not even a hint that education practices in the US do not serve students well, and that those who can afford it, get the education they need through parents, tutors, and learning centers (Sylvan, Kumon and the like). Low income families are not able to afford the external education.

Maenad said...

Singapore does have some similar type of problems where they demonstrate that you can add 1 to get to the nearest hundred and then subtract it at the end. However it is introduced, I believe, a full year earlier in 3rd grade. They also call it mental math. The pages that deal with it have a lot more problems for the kids to do.
I would have been incensed by this investigations page, which looks like it is from a later edition than the monstrosity we dealt with because of the mistaken assumption that doing only one problem will achieve mastery.
2/3 of this math homework is meant to be completed by the parent -- probably so the kid can take it back in the next day to have the parental algorithms vilified by the teacher.
I used to staple worksheets of more appropriate math I had my children do to the investigations stuff and have them turn that in as homework. My battles with the principal go to the point that she "forbade me to speak with other parents about the curriculum in mathematics."
Investigations doesn't teach mastery of anything, and the kids have no number sense because of exercises like this. The people who profit from this program should be prosecuted.