“HAVING GOOD TRAINING IS KEY”: A FIELD REPORT FROM LONG ISLAND, NY
By: Allison Curran
Allison Curran is an Elementary Curriculum Specialist at Lynbrook Public Schools, a district in Long Island, New York serving 1,200 elementary students. She shared her experiences over the past two years using Eureka Math. Find her on Twitter at @AllisonCurranEC.
How did you get started with Eureka Math?
During the 2013–14 school year we had most of the EngageNY modules, and our teachers were starting to dabble with them. We were starting to provide some training and I was going into classrooms to model some lessons, but we already had a math program in place and some were not yet ready to let go. In the summer of 2014, teachers realized they couldn’t keep teaching both curricula, and they saw that the Eureka modules were better preparing students. So, we spent the summer adapting our curriculum, starting with the progression docs and backward mapping from 5th grade. Starting in fall 2014, we started teaching all the modules, grades 1–5. The kindergarten teachers were holding on to the old curriculum, but they loved the training by the writers, such as Adam Baker, so halfway through October they also shifted.
How did it go this year?
It was a little bumpy in the beginning, mostly for parents. Some parents were frustrated that they didn’t know how to help their child. But the concerns quieted down a lot once teachers produced resources such as glossaries and the district provided a lot of parent academies and produced videos of what this looks like.
How did the teachers feel?
The math teachers said they’d never had students with this strong an understanding of math. They can’t believe what students are doing, especially the 5th-grade teachers. The 2nd grade teachers say they’ve never had so many students understand addition and subtraction with double digits, and for the first time they’re holding on to that knowledge longer. We benchmark our K-1 students with a suite of assessments from FastBridge’s early Math. Ninety-two percent of kindergarteners met the spring benchmark for decomposing numbers.
What challenges did you have to overcome?
We definitely had to scale back the curriculum…and used a rotation model to deliver instruction: concept development and fluency with the whole class, application problems at stations or at the teacher table. Having good training is key. Most teachers received professional development from the Eureka writers and said it was the best PD they’d ever received.
One thing that’s missing from Eureka is a cumulative, end-of-year test. So we got our teachers together and developed one for each grade. Some teachers piloted it this June and students did well for the most part. We’ll use it in all schools this coming year, starting in the fall. We’ll give the end-of-year test from grade 3, let’s say, at the start of grade 4 as one indicator of whether a child needs math lab. We’ll do that in grades 2 through 5.