Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Eureka... 5 weeks in.

Well, we are on our fifth week of school.  Today I completed lesson 14 in Module 1.  Yes, I am sticking to one lesson a day, for four lessons a week.  I decided to leave Friday open for review and diving deeper into problems that require RDW.

I am not in full swing with my math stations on how I want them to be.  I am doing, for the most part, three group rotations.  I don't really like it.... if I had a lower class size, yes.  With 32 students, three groups still makes for a large number of students in my groups.  The benefit of lower group size is that you can see how they are performing right in front of you.  10-12 in a group, I can't see each and everyone's work.  I need four groups, numbers wise.

The trick is getting my lessons down to 20 minutes each.  I know my group of higher level students can plow through the lesson in no time.  My lower group needs more reinforcement, for them I might have to go slower through the week or not follow lesson to lesson for them.

** On a side note, someone asked how I group students... we use NWEA MAP testing.  I group my students according to their RIT score.  Another way you can do grouping is by pre-test scores.**

Here is what I will tell you... with my old math program EDM, I absolutely could get in my lesson in 20 minutes.  When you are teaching small group, you actually go much quicker through the lesson and examples.  I like to follow the lesson format of I do, we do, you do.  First I'll demonstrate the math concept, introduce terminology, etc.  Then I will have the students complete the problem with me on white boards, then I have them try it on their own.  Plus, in all honesty... do students really have the attention span to listen to a full lesson lecture for over 20 minutes, especially in the primary grades?

Remember this is my year to figure this all out and write about my journey.  There might be things I don't know how to incorporate yet and things that are going really well.

Here are some Eureka newbie observations...

1.  When you start a program in fourth grade, for example, there is a certain background knowledge from the previous grades they miss.  RDW is a prime example.  I love how the lesson says to use RDW for a problem but there is not a single bit of formal instruction to teach, model, and practice RDW.  In fact, it really should be a whole week of lessons on it's own.

2.  10 minutes for problem sets is very unrealistic.... do I have to say anything more on this?

3.  I like how the problem set closely correlates to the homework.  At least the students are taking home examples of problems they are going to have to do on their own.

4.  I miss the hands-on games that help reinforce skill/concepts.  Hence the reason I need my fourth math station up and running... math game/card station.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Eureka Math.... A Journey and a Start

Yesterday marked day 10 with my new group of student.  All 32 of them.  Yes. 32 of them!  It took a few days to get over the claustrophobic feeling of having that many desks and bodies in a room all day.  However, they are a fantastic group that I have the pleasure of calling mine this school year.

Eureka Math... I jumped right in on Day 2.  Let me say that the very first lesson in fourth grade is quite a doozy!  Wow!  I prepped and read the lesson but miserably failed at teaching it.  I will full on admit that yes, my lesson was bad. (I'll explain why in just a bit).  I could see the looks on their faces, like I was speaking a different language.

So I thought,  "Ok.  Let's do this again."  I'm going to retry the lesson the next day.  No go.

Oh man.  Things are not looking good.  So I sit and reflect, what is happening here.  **Lightbulb**
I need to ditch the script.  The script was killing me and my teaching style.

Third day... I have this in the bag!  I ditched the script.  Made it my own, presented the concept in my own words, and there we have it.  I was back on track.  The kids responded well too!

Note, if you follow the WHOLE lesson from beginning to end, especially for Module 1, Lesson 1 for fourth grade, it WILL take over two hours.  Realistically, that is not going to happen any day or anytime in my classroom.  If you follow the script and rely on your manual for all the wording, you are going to sound like a drone and who wants to listen to that?  Lesson learned for me!

By the end of the first week, even though I figured out I needed to ditch the script, still use the examples and vocabulary, I was drowning with trying to reach 32 kids.  I never.  I repeat. NEVER start stations without proper training.  I had already introduced the math card station the first week and wrote the expectations.  The kids had two days of practice.  By the beginning of the second week, I knew I had to make a decision to do something rather than whole group.

I decided on a slight modification to start.  I broke the kids up into three groups.  They were going to rotate between the three stations, around 20-25 minutes each stations.  The three stations I had were... meet with teacher, independent (practice pages) and then computer station.   It was a glorious first day of stations.  It was so much easier to teach a small group of 10.  The kids loved the computers and it was quite quiet the whole math block!

So that is where I am at right now.  I have three temporary groups rotating between the three stations.  I'm eventually going to move to my traditional four stations.  That is my goal for September.  I'll keep in the loop as I go along on this Eureka Math journey!

I hope you are all off to a good start or about to have a great start of the school year!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Eureka Math - EEEKKKK!

Our district is making the switch to Eureka (aka Engage NY) math, all grades to implement starting this fall.  I'll admit, it's a bit overwhelming but then again, it's bound to be anytime you take on a new program.

For the past 12 years I've been using Everyday Math.  It was a good program but even with the newer fourth grade edition, it was full of common core holes.  So this past year I went off program and used all my own resources to teach.  It was actually a very successful year.  We worked more on mastery of concepts rather than the EDM spiral.  My teammate and I focused on one standard a week, which made it more doable and were able to cover all fourth grade CC math standards.

But now onto Eurkea...

At the end of the school year I received seven bound books, one for each of the units I am going to teach my fourth graders next year.  Those suckers are thick and wordy!  *Gulp*

I did attend my first district/Eureka training and thankfully, after hearing from the Eureka trainer, the parts seem a little bit more understandable.

My big dilemma will not be teaching Eureka math itself but navigating a new program and fitting it into my Guided-Math format!  It is going to be a journey of trial and error to fit it all in.

My plan is to still have four math groups, there might be a slight chance it could go down to three groups but that is yet to be determined.  I'm going to put my head back into the hole for now and enjoy my summer, while it lasts.  Come August, I'll hit the planning hard to figure out what I am doing!

Anyone else out there use Eureka and Guided Math?  Please share your experiences in the comments! I'd love to hear from you!