Words should not get in the way of learning math. In my classroom, I often noticed that students struggled with the math because they couldn’t make sense of the words. That’s one reason I’m so excited about the Eureka Math2™ curriculum—the student materials are more readable. This increased readability lets your students focus on the math rather than on the words. The kindergarten student materials use as few words as possible. For your first- and second-grade students, problems include words with basic phonetic patterns and high-frequency words and then gradually add more complex words. In addition, simpler sentences and visual supports help your emerging readers make sense of problems.
Let’s look at this word problem from Eureka Math2 grade 1 as an example of how the curriculum supports readability. In many cases like this one, each sentence is printed on a separate line, so your students don’t have to track text from one line to the next. Words that aren’t important to the math are omitted.
You’ll see white space and writing supports such as answer stems to help your students process the information on the page. Your students will quickly learn to recognize the Read–Draw–Write (RDW) prompts, as seen in this problem, because the format is repeated in every RDW problem. Eureka Math2 also provides visual supports for words that may not yet be decodable, such as the names of fruit, but the words still appear on the page so your students see them in print. You can further support your students by reading directions and word problems aloud to ensure that the words aren’t a barrier to the math.
Let’s consider how the readability of this grade 1 problem is improved without compromising the rigor. You’ll see how the separate lines of text and the visual support make the problem more readable. Also, notice how the improved problem avoids long and hard-to-read words, like collection, friend, and altogether.
Sierra has 1 rock in her collection. She finds 4 more rocks to add to her collection. Via has 9 rocks in her collection. How many rocks do the friends have altogether?
To support early readers, Eureka Math2 uses words that contain familiar spelling patterns as well as high-frequency words that are familiar to most of your students. You’ll see that when possible, simpler words like get replace less readable words like collect. If instruction requires a more complex math term, you’ll see it introduced in context. This allows your students to build the concept of a word’s meaning before they learn the formal term assigned to the idea. Once the term is introduced, your students continue to see it in print, so they become comfortable reading and writing it.
When word problems require multiple-meaning words, such as a mathematical term or content-specific word (e.g., table, scale, order), your Teach book provides a Language Support box in the margin notes to help you support your students. The following Language Support box illustrates how the Teach book includes suggestions for support with multiple-meaning words.
Eureka Math2 improves readability without compromising mathematical content. By reducing the emphasis on reading, we help ensure that all students can actively engage in grade-level word problems and activities. As a result, every student can grow and excel in math!
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Jonelle Godfrey is a former high school math teacher and principal at both the elementary and high school level. She is an educational leader in the greater San Diego area with over twenty years serving in K-12 education.