Imagine yourself back in third grade. Your arithmetic teacher assigns you the following problem.
Betty bought 1,568 stickers. For her birthday she got 1,423 more. On Monday she went back to Sticker Station and bought 680 more. How many stickers does Betty have now?
How would you go about solving it? You’d use simple addition, arranging the numbers vertically, aligned on the units column (see problem here).
That was then. And this is now. Welcome to the world of “Investigations,” a “complete K-5 mathematics curriculum, developed at TERC in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is designed to help all children understand fundamental ideas of number and operations, geometry, data, measurement and early algebra.”
According to the “About” page of its website, TERC has been around for more forty years and has introduced “millions of students throughout the United States to the exciting and rewarding worlds of math and science learning.”
TERC imagines a future in which learners from diverse communities engage in creative, rigorous, and reflective inquiry as an integral part of their lives — a future where teachers and students alike are members of vibrant communities where questioning, problem solving, and experimentation are commonplace. This vision is grounded in the belief that science and math literacies are critical to strengthening and preserving a democratic society.
TERC appears to be a separate entity from the Common Core State Standards, though not surprisingly “Investigations” can be used to implement Common Core.
How does all this work in practice? The video found here provides an answer. It shows an 8-year-old using “Investigations” to solve the problem detailed at the beginning of this article. Pay close attention to (1) the length of time the girl spends solving the problem using the TERC method and (2) the answer she comes up with.
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