STUDENT CONFIDENCE AND PROGRESS: A FIELD REPORT FROM MERCER COUNTY, WV
By: Erika Wimmer
Erika Wimmer is a teacher at Spanishburg Elementary School in Mercer County, WV, a rural district in the southern part of the state. She taught a 4th/5th grade split class this past year, but has taught most of the elementary grades. She shared her thoughts about Eureka Math.
“Once I get teachers to use it, they love it.”
How did you start using Eureka Math?
I was the first person in West Virginia to use it! We had adopted the Common Core and I was asked to train other elementary teachers in the county. We were using the series Everyday Math, but it clearly wasn’t aligned to the Common Core and many teachers were struggling to find resources. I was looking in a lot of places for good curricula and found Eureka Math. At first, I used it [Eureka] without telling anyone in case it was not useful. I loved it. I saw how it changed how I taught and how my kids were learning. So I shared with teachers in my school. At first teachers had to buy it ourselves, but now our school and maybe two others [of 13 elementary schools in the county] have bought it for the whole school
What’s the difference?
The main thing is their students’ confidence with math. They can tell you what they’re doing and use the right vocabulary. They feel like math thinkers and they are. They feel a little superior. They want to explain it. They’re going home and showing their older brothers and sisters and parents and grandparents how to do math. And they have an attitude that they want to learn more.
Why aren’t more schools using it?
I’m sure there is at least one teacher in every school [in Mercer County] using it, probably about a third of elementary teachers overall in Mercer. But a lot of teachers are a little leery of using what the county hasn’t trained them to use. The county endorses the use of Eureka Math now, but we still use Everyday Math as a curriculum. Eureka Math is not something you can do a little of. It needs to start at the beginning and it works better if all teachers in your school are using it. Once I get teachers to use it, they love it
What turned the tide?
Their STAR [interim test] scores. We had huge jumps on the STAR Renaissance test this year in math, not in English. I’m sure it was because of Eureka Math. They could see how much progress their kids were making. At that point, they didn’t care what it was called