On February 10th the school board will be holding a math work session to discuss the opt in for traditional math and a blended instructional program. Several board members have expressed their support for a blended approach to instruction over an opt in.

That’s odd. I thought we already had a blended approach to instruction, like these comments clearly indicate:

On March 5, 2008 Dr. Walts made the following statements in setting forth his expectations for the mathematics program in PWC elementary schools. *“I support a balanced mathematics program. I think we are in the right direction in terms of the fact that our established curriculum has not changed and continues to be aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning.”*

*“The good news, I think, is that the most recent adoption and, in fact, the new materials that we acquired t his year actually is a blend of what I consider a balanced approach to mathematics.“*

The December 2008 episode of “Inside Education” Discussed how* “Carol Knight, supervisor of mathematics for the School Division, and Christine Bohannon, a second-grade teacher from Ashland Elementary School, join Blackstone for a discussion about how “Investigations in Number, Data and Space” is creating a blended approach to math instruction in PWCS elementary classrooms.”*

In the September 2008 Program Evaluation Of Investigations the following recommendation was made regarding Instruction, *“The Mathematics Office should continue to assist teachers, administrators, and parents in understanding that “Investigations” includes a balanced approach to mathematics by emphasizing conceptual understanding as well as mastery of facts and use of multiple strategies including traditional ones.”*

In comments reported in the Washington Post following the September 2008 presentation of the 2 Year Program Evaluation Results, Chairman Johns was quoted as stating *“Certainly, School Board members will keep tabs on math scores and continue to listen to concerns from parents and get updates on teachers’ professional development. But for right now, there’s no more formal activity on the agenda. We are taking a balanced approach, and we are seeing improvement in all groups and narrowing those gaps.” *

Can someone please remind me why we’re discussing a blended approach to math instruction if we already, supposedly, have a blended approach? And, what, exactly is a blended approach?

To me a blended approach would be one where material from other sources is added into the existing lesson framework. So how have the Investigations lessons,which form the foundation of our math program, been adapted to include material from other sources?

I asked that exact question and was given a link to the pacing guides available on the PWCS web site. So I decided to look at those pacing guides in detail, compare them to the Investigations program, and then review the planning calendars to see how extensive and time consuming the supplemental or adapted lessons are.

Our program is approximately 89% unadapted and unchanged Investigations. Only about 11% of the lessons from Grades 1 – 4 are adapted to include supplemental material from sources other than Investigations and those materials aren’t necessarily traditional – they’re just from other sources. None of the lessons on computation are adapted or supplemented with material outside of Investigations.

It’s kind of hard to see how that could be called blended.

The details are below.

**Grade 1**

There are approximately 172 instructional days in the 1st grade math calendar (count excludes holidays, teacher work days, and testing days); approximately 25 of those days contain supplemental lessons on topics such as telling time to the hour and half hour, money, volume, weight, probability, and part to whole fractions (1/2, 1/3 and 1/4). All other lessons are unadapted or include additional material which comes from Investigations.

That means that 15% of our 1st grade curriculum is from sources other than Investigations and the remaining 85% is unadapted Investigations. Every one of those supplemental lessons, by the way, is necessary to meet minimum SOL standards for Grade 1.

**Grade 2**

There are approximately 173 instructional days in the second grade calendar (count excludes holidays, teacher work days, half days, and testing days); approximately 18 of those days include supplemental lessons on topics such as data collection and analysis, probability, ordinals, rounding, money notation, 1/8 and 1/10, perimeter, volume, temperature, liquid volume, weight and mass. All other lessons are unadapted or include additional material which comes from Investigations.

That means that approximately 10% of our 2nd grade curriculum is from sources other than Investigations and the remaining 90% is unadapted Investigations. Every one of those supplemental lessons, by the way, is necessary to meet minimum SOL standards for Grade 2. It is also worth noting that the core Investigations lessons on computation are neither supplemented nor extended to include traditional computational strategies.

**Grade 3**

There are approximately 164 instructional days in the 3rd grade calendar (count excludes holidays, teacher work days, half days, SOL prep days, and testing days); approximately 20 of those days include supplemental lessons on topics such as : probability, equivalent period of time, patterns, input / output machines, liquid volume and weight, comparing and ordering fractions, decimal computation, and making change. All other lessons are unadapted or include additional material which comes from Investigations.

That means that approximately 12% of our 3rd grade curriculum is from sources other than Investigations and the remaining 88% is unadapted Investigations. Every one of those supplemental lessons, by the way, is necessary to meet minimum SOL standards for Grade 3.

It is worth noting that the core Investigations lessons on computation are neither supplemented nor extended to include traditional computational strategies. It is also worth noting that the single lesson on the standard algorithm for addition is moved from Grade 4 to Grade 3 but is unchanged from the content described in this article.

**Grade 4**

There are approximately 163 instructional days in the 4th grade calendar (count excludes holidays, teacher work days, half days, SOL prep days, and testing days); approximately 10 of those days include supplemental lessons on topics such as : geographic patterns and function tables, coordinating geometry, transformations using patty paper, area and perimeter, and subtracting decimals. All other lessons are unadapted or include additional material which comes from Investigations.

That means that approximately 6% of our 4th grade curriculum is from sources other than Investigations and the remaining 94% is unadapted Investigations.

It is worth noting that the core Investigations lessons on computation are neither supplemented nor extended to include traditional computational strategies. It is also worth noting that the single lesson on the standard algorithm for subtraction is moved from Grade 5 to Grade 4 but is unchanged from the content described in the article linked above.

February 6, 2009 at 9:03 am

That’s because “blended” or “balanced” is the latest publishers’ buzzword to try to fool the parents that have noticed a lack of mathematics in their kids mathematics program.

Makes you wonder why some defend it so vigorously..

February 1, 2011 at 9:35 am

[…] here to learn just how little blending there is in our […]