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Nancy McGonagle is an Instructional Coach in the Narragansett School District in Rhode Island, responsible for elementary school mathematics. She discussed what she’s hoping for this year.

Why did you sign up to be a Eureka Math champion?

We’re just starting to use the curriculum this year and I’m eager to network and learn from other teachers and districts. We have a network in Rhode Island where we talk about different programs and strategies. I’d say about 25 percent are using some part of Eureka Math. It’s all positive feedback, though they say it’s a lot to learn at first.

Why did you switch to Eureka?

Like many districts nationally, math is an area of weakness for us, especially for struggling students. We’ve been using Investigations for the past eight years, and tried to fit it to match the Common Core standards, but it just wasn’t working. We’ve been working with the Dana Center to create our own curriculum, using resources from various sites and materials. But it felt like a very non-coherent system. I felt like we needed to bring it back together, to give some consistency and coherence. We’re going full-fledged with Eureka Math in grades K–4 this year.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m really excited to have that coherence, so teachers have something to build on. They can go back if they don’t understand the math. Having those materials [teacher and student workbooks] in their hands will make it less stressful for them. I am hoping that having one program will build consistent vocabulary and allow students to use similar models that will build conceptual understanding.

What are your concerns?

Having something new is always stressful. I hope it’s not too challenging for students, especially the 3rd and 4th graders who haven’t had a lot of the language yet. I’m urging my teachers not to see it as a script but as a vignette. Read it, take what you need from it, and make it your own. Also, the full curriculum takes more days than we’re in school, but we’re using Eureka’s advice about consolidating lessons. We’ll get through this first year and see where we are based on where our students are.

© Great Minds 2016