Materials Adaptation
Part 8 of Teacher Perspectives

A Third Grade Teacher’s Perspective on Eureka Math

What does Eureka look like in the classroom?

Jessica Doughty teaches at a Title One, rural school in Daviess County, Kentucky with 52% of the students receiving free breakfast and lunch. She will transition into the role of instructional coach this upcoming school year.

This is year one for implementing Eureka Math at my school — Whitesville Elementary.  We discussed whether or not we should roll it out slowly, starting with primary grades and then expanding to intermediate in the subsequent years; the staff ultimately decided, however, to dive straight into learning what this curriculum had to offer.  Now that I’m at the end of year one, here’s what I’ve noticed about the curriculum and some of the unique activities my colleagues and I have done to make the program work for our students.

There definitely is more focus within the standards, and this is reflected in the Eureka curriculum with more time devoted to the Major Work of the Grade. The modules are tagged to the grade-level standards taught in each lesson, so I’m quickly able to see the focus areas. I also see the elements of Rigor outlined within each lesson.  For example, I appreciate the daily fluency lessons that are built in at the beginning of each day.  This is a regular routine for the students and they become accustomed to this practice – building fluency became a regular part of each day.  A lot of review is hit in the fluency lessons, allowing confidence to build over time.  In my classroom, we have added some “Count By” songs to this fluency time, as well.  I found several teacher-created videos by Mr. DeMaio (like this one – a cover of “Uptown Funk” to help practice the 3 times tables) that have helped to pump up the engagement level of this fluency time.  He creates covers of many popular songs the children are familiar with to incorporate counting by 3’s, 4’s, 6’s, and so on.

Each day also provides conceptual learning time for students to dig deeper into the standard we are studying.  This is a time that I have really encouraged team work within my classroom.  The text doesn’t specify how to differentiate for the needs of your various learners, but I have grouped my students so that they have student coaches scattered throughout the room.  I approach this learning time with a “teaching up” mentality and the students really embrace working with one another.

In addition, application work is provided each day through word problems.  In my classroom, we have math notebooks for each one of these problems- students are encouraged to first attempt solving the problem on his or her own.  After an allotted amount of time, students begin to share their answers and we collect student responses at the board to analyze the various responses and tally how many students produced each different answer. (These are strategies I have added on my own that are not provided in the teacher instruction.)  The curriculum encourages a process called RDW in answering and modeling these problems (Read, Draw, Write- Equation, Sentences).  This is when they add Mrs. Doughty’s way to their notebooks to compare their answer to mine for similarities and differences. I love this part of the lesson because, when the students and I have the same answer but took different approaches to get there, it really demonstrates that there’s not simply one correct way to arrive at a solution.  It also provides feedback on their thinking, but pushes them to become independent thinkers, as well.

In terms of Coherence, while I have not sat down specifically with other grade levels to look at each module as a whole, I feel that I have a unique perspective since I not only teach at the school but also am the parent of two students who attend the school.  My oldest son is in 5th grade and my youngest is in 1st.  I have been dazzled by the Coherence I have seen through their work and what I am teaching in my 3rd grade classroom.  So much of what my 1st grader brings home excites me for what lays before him.  This curriculum presents strategies early on in kindergarten, such as number bonds, tape diagrams, and so on, that they see repeated over and over throughout the years.  The language becomes common to the children and parents, as well. I am predicting great growth over time and usage.

I have not had to rearrange the content to be more coherent.  During our initial training, it was highly encouraged to allow the modules to play out in the specific order they were presented.  The idea is that the learning would take place like a story over the course of the year and I found this to be very true.  As we are working on our final module, I am seeing how the modules before this one are being tied into the work in this module so cohesively.

Likewise, I have not found the need to supplement any part of this curriculum with other resources.  I have incorporated a strategy called, “My Favorite No” in order to utilize my exit slips as an opportunity for deeper learning. In this activity, all students answer the same question, I sort the answers in piles of “yes’s” and “no’s” – right and wrong answers. Then I choose my favorite “no” and we look at the process used for solving the problem together. This strategy was shared with me before I began teaching with Eureka Math and I have found it to be highly effective and useful with the exit tickets provided by this textbook.  If you would like more information on this strategy, see this link from The Teaching Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srJWx7P6uLE

Eureka Math is scripted for the teacher and anticipates student responses, which is very useful for studying in advance.  This makes each module easy to follow and easy to understand what is expected.  While some teachers may find this a bit confining, you can make it your own by how you build relationships within your classroom to support the diverse learners in your environment.  There are not many scaffolding supports in place in the curriculum, which could leave room for the teacher to determine some best practice strategies for implementing each lesson.  Another simple plus to the scripted lesson plan is that when you need to make plans for a substitute teacher, it is very specific in what the substitute should say and do.

As a whole, I am more than impressed with Eureka Math as a core curriculum for teaching with the Shifts of Common Core in mind.  It is evident that the material was written to challenge and engage students at all levels, and the scaffolding that is embedded becomes obvious as the children progressively move through each lesson of the modules. I anticipate that our school will continue to head in the direction of aligning our goals to college- and career-ready standards,  and am looking forward to seeing what our students can accomplish over time.

4 thoughts on “A Third Grade Teacher’s Perspective on Eureka Math

  1. Grade 3, Module 2, Lesson 6.
    Materials:
    (T) 1-kilogram weight
    (T) 1-kilogram benchmark bag of beans
    (S) 1-kilogram benchmark bag of beans (one per pair of students)
    (S) digital metric scale
    (S) pan balance
    (S) gallon-sized sealable bag
    (S) rice
    (S) paper cup

    I have no digital metric scale. (Much less one per pair of students.)
    I have no kilogram weights.
    Most of all, I cannot purchase 12 kilograms of rice for my students so that each pair can have one to pour out, handle, and waste, and inevitably spill all over my carpets. That’s 26 pounds of rice that they want packaged individually so we can draw on them. No, thank you.

    Additionally, Eureka Math provides no differentiation or enrichment, it’s worksheet-heavy, and the activities are boring. What I need is an honest forum where teachers can problem solve these issues, rather than just praise another one-size-fits-few program.

    1. Your comments show a lack of understanding of Eureka Math and how the teaching materials and activities lend themselves to having both the teacher and the students actually understanding the mathematics. Picking 1 lesson to condemn an entire resource is pretty short sighted.
      The activity that you mention is a suggested activity, and in the lesson notes it mentions that you don’t need to use all the materials with all the students. The gist of the lesson is to familiarize students with the idea that 1 kg is a measure of weight (mass) and can be used regardless of the material being weighed. The lesson objective is to build and decompose a kilo, to reason about the size and weight of metric units up to 1 kg. It gives students an actual context for what a kilogram is, what it may look like, feel like, etc. Imagine that…making mathematics make sense!
      When you plan out a module in Eureka Math, you need to use your judgement as an educator based on what resources and materials you have, what is best for you as a teacher, and your students. If you are looking for a curriculum where you open to page 37 and teach the lesson, Eureka Math is not for you!
      The differentiation and extension in Eureka Math are built into each problem set, and homework. The teacher makes the decisions about what is must do, can do, and extension. Eureka math is not a cookie cutter curriculum. The teacher needs to make instructional and student work decisions based on the class needs. What is remediation/enrichment in one class (or for one student) may not be for another group (or individual).
      To teach Eureka Math you need to study the mathematics. I suggest you read the book “Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics” by Liping Ma

      1. I’ve taught fourth-grade Eureka math for four years, three classes per day. My issues with the program are many. First and foremost, there is nothing engaging about this program. Each lesson requires me to create an anticipatory set to draw students in. Having an essential question, tied to the children’s lives, would be helpful. Although there is small review section in the beginning of the each lesson, the curriculum teaches one concept at a time and doesn’t combine areas of study. While bar models are taught throughout the units, we don’t see number lines, pie diagrams, etc. When students are presented with these problems in testing, they are not familiar with the design of the problem. While a teacher can add these alternate strategies, the program does not include them.
        The biggest issue I have with the program is that it starts the year assuming students recall everything they learned the previous year. There are two lessons on lines, rays, and line segments. It quickly moves to angles and classifying triangles by attributes. If a student misses one day of math lessons, they are behind. The program is scaffolded but moves so quickly.
        Although it moves quickly, there are upwards of 180 lessons and many school districts do not have that many days of instruction. We combined lessons, but this was not always in the best interest of learning.
        Students who struggle with reading will definitely struggle with this program. Word problems are difficult for struggling readers to interpret. Again, teachers differentiate, but it would be so much easier if the program included problems with lower level reading.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About the Author: Jessica Doughty teaches at a Title One, rural school in Daviess County, Kentucky with 52% of the students receiving free breakfast and lunch. She will transition into the role of instructional coach this upcoming school year.