STUDENTS SUCCEED IN TRANSITION TO EUREKA: A FIELD REPORT FROM MONROE, LA
By: Brittany Taraba
Brittant Taraba is a Teacher at Cypress Point Elementary School in Louisiana.
UPDATE FROM MONROE, LA: FIVE MONTHS OF GROWTH IN JUST TWO (October 2016)
It’s been a pretty good start so far!
I just finished my first progress monitoring testing. When I benchmark tested in August, my 2nd grade class average was a 1.6, meaning they were doing math on a level of a first grader in January or February. We are nine weeks into the school year (our first grading period) and they are now testing on an average of 2.1. They have come up to almost grade level, a growth of five months in just two! I’ve actually had three students grow almost a year in ability so far. I have the inclusion class this year, so I have eight students with IEPs.
I spent a lot of time looking at the curriculum this summer. I presented several sessions on utilizing Eureka strategies in any classroom at summer conferences and facilitated the back-to-school math professional development for my district.
I’ve changed how we assess throughout the modules and created a “number of the day” board that closely relates to Eureka Math. Next week we’ll wrap up Module 3 and move on to Module 4 with addition and subtraction strategies.
Just when I think I can’t get any more excited about Eureka, I find a way to fall in love with it more!!
INTERVIEW WITH BRITTANY TARABA (August 2015)
How did you get started with Eureka Math?
We had been using another math series in previous years. Grades 3–6 had been using Eureka in my school and loved it, so the principal and district decided to switch across the board this past year. I was able to attend a two-day [Eureka] training and left more excited to teach math than I could ever remember.
How come? What happened in your classroom?
My 2nd grade students started the year with a grade equivalency average of 1.7 on the Renaissance STAR Math benchmark test [below 2.0, the ideal starting point for a 2nd grader]. By the end of the year, they were at an average 3.0 grade level, with more than one year of growth. The only thing I was doing differently from previous years was using Eureka Math. Kids enjoyed it, I enjoyed it, and parents were excited by the year-end results. By the end of the year, parents were telling me that their kids were doing large math computations in their heads. Some of my 2nd graders were actually solving 4th grade problems. They hadn’t been taught the skills yet, but their basic critical thinking skills helped them figure out the answers.
What were some of the major challenges you had to overcome?
Because this was our first year using Eureka Math, our students didn’t have the assumed foundation to start Module 1. They didn’t understand some of the terms and strategies so we had to stop for a couple of weeks to quickly teach them the basics from the 1st grade curriculum. We went a bit slowly throughout the year to make sure students were truly understanding the material. Because of our slower pace (sometimes taking a couple of days for a lesson), we had to condense Modules 5–8. With the old curriculum, we spent a little over a month each on both time and money. I was terrified, because I only had a week each this year. After the first day, my students were able to count money and tell time. It was a miraculous feeling.
You said the early part of the year was a struggle. When did you know you were over the hump?
I could tell by probably the end of October or early November, once my kids really mastered that first 2nd grade module — learning to add and subtract to 20. In the beginning, kids were counting on their fingers. They’d get so frustrated with the new rigor — we no longer had any multiple-choice options for them — that they’d use the most basic method to get an answer. Once they were familiar with word problems and sprints and I could get them to feel more confident they could figure out the answer, they were more willing to take a chance. As the year went on, wrong answers were a personal challenge to find where they’d made a mistake.