Welcome to my Guest Blogger - Rachel
This post is super special! I am thrilled to have a guest blogger here on my site! I reached out to my fellow teachers asking if they would be willing to share their experiences using the Eureka Math/Engage NY Math curriculum. I wanted others to benefit and learn their tips and tricks. I was thrilled when Rachel reached out to me and was willing to share what she has learned. Rachel and I worked together in a Title I public school a few years ago, and she has since become a home-school mom and is STILL using the program, which speaks volumes to me! When Rachel generously agreed to write about her experiences using Engage NY/Eureka math at home, I sent her the lessons I created for classroom teachers to see if they might be useful in some way to her as a home-school parent, and she loved them!
Keep reading to learn more about Rachel and her experience using Eureka Math / Engage NY Math as a home-school parent.
Yes, Eureka math lessons are jam-packed with information and probably more than you can squeeze into the 60 minute time-frame it lays out for you. Even if you have more than 60 minutes for your math block, you may still be wondering how to fit it all in. This is totally normal, and many teachers feel this way about the curriculum.
As a teacher-researcher, I am particularly interested in teachers’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK).
Briefly, PCK refers to a teacher’s understanding of how to help students understand specific subject matter. It is the combination of a teacher’s pedagogical knowledge (how students learn, teaching approaches, methods of assessment and knowledge of different theories about learning) and content knowledge (knowledge of the subject matter).
I believe that educative curriculum materials, by aiding teacher learning, can transform teacher’s knowledge simply from being either content specific, or pedagogically centered, to a combination that allows deep learning of both the student and the teacher
During the study I completed for my dissertation, I found that translating teacher’s manuals to digital presentations for easy digestion and delivery benefited both new and experienced teachers, just in different ways. The presentations allowed less experienced teachers to transition into their new roles more easily, while ensuring the required content was delivered with fidelity; and experienced teachers were able to refer to the presentations as needed and use them as a pacing guide.
Curriculum materials, such as textbooks, are ubiquitous in schools. We have all experienced reading from a textbook and recognize that the information provided in those standard curriculum materials is typically solely for the students. My focus, educative curriculum materials (ECMs), can include textbooks or other common classroom curriculum materials, but what sets ECMs apart is their ability to help to increase teachers' knowledge, not just student knowledge. These kinds of materials help teachers develop more general knowledge that they can apply flexibly in new situations.
I learned that to prepare I needed to read each lesson, digest all the material, review all the tips and tricks and notes about how to differentiate the content based on the types of learners that are in the classroom, and I had to do this for each subject daily.
“We also have the entire Lucy Calkins writing program that you’ll need to check out from the professional development library, and of course you’ll need the social studies and science teacher’s manuals as well - but those are spread out in various locations and some are in bins - just see what you can find - don’t worry - we’ll be here for you”.
I never saw my mentor again unless I was having a performance evaluation.
I am a full-time teacher, so summer is my primary time to create new products. For that month and a half, I spend 8-12 hours per day working on creating, perfecting, and posting products. During the school year, my energy is devoted to my classroom and the students in it, but I do spend some time during school breaks creating and posting products.
My husband does help with the basic setup – he enters the information into each presentation and does some of the rough formatting, but I go through and review every lesson to ensure that the flow makes sense, as if I was teaching that lesson. This includes rephrasing awkward wording, adding various timing features to the text, ensuring that it is visually appealing for the students and teacher, etc.
In addition, I consider how students will react to the presentations, including how distracted students might become if I add too much or not enough.
I think about the font choices (seriously, I do), as I explicitly remember my 2nd grade class going off on a 15 minute tangent because the “cutesy” font made the letters look different than how they were taught to write. So, in the middle of my math lesson, I had to explain what font choices were and why designers use them and emphasize why they really weren’t relevant to the math content. Can you imagine if that happened during an observation?!
Also, the clip art I use is carefully chosen to ensure no tangents similar to the font tangent occur. Again, I learned from experience – “Why does that kid look so funny?” “REALLY – why are his hands circles?” and on and on and on.
So, my buyers benefit from my experience.
The creation process from start to finish is incredibly lengthy. I would estimate that each lesson requires at least one full day to complete. Now, multiply that by 150+ lessons. THEY ARE VERY TIME CONSUMING TO CREATE.
Once my products are complete, they don’t do teachers any good if they’re sitting on my computer, therefore I must dedicate time to uploading them to my TpT store which can take 5-10 minutes for each one (times 150+ lessons).
All this doesn’t include any of the time (or money) I spend to search out and procure the digital papers, fonts, clip art, etc. When I actually sat down and considered my in investment in the various facets of creating my products, I was astounded.
So, if a teacher spent 2-3 hours creating a lesson, and they earn (for ease of demonstration) $20/hour – that resource is in effect, worth $40-$60.
I think my price of $3 seems fair.
I've been working on creating video previews for a few of my products on TpT. I really think they'll help buyers know more about the product and ensure that they are satisfied with their purchase. I bought a program called Movavi and it works really well. What programs to you use to create videos?
As I was dreading the afternoons with my classes after testing, I knew I had to come up with a few creative ideas to keep the kiddos active, busy and engaged.
Testing week is a challenge as I teach math to the entire 4th grade, so during testing weeks, there are a few classes that I see every day, some that I might see only once or twice and there are even years when I don't see specific classes at all during that week, so regular teaching is out.
I can't really plan lessons because I want everyone to stay on the same track. Typically, I opt for review games and centers to keep to some sort of routine. Enter my TpT search. Was I ever glad I went looking, because I found a phenomenal teacher-author!
Math in the Middle creates online review games that are super fun and keep the students engaged. I'm truly amazed at what some teachers create and would love to be a fly on the wall in their classrooms. I leave feeling inspired and I must admit, a little bit jealous of their talent! I'm so thankful that these creative souls share their products with us and I'm happy to pay $5 knowing it's going to another teacher and that my time with the kiddos will be fun and educational. Win-Win for everyone!
What are some of your favorite TpT finds?
Classroom Teacher Doctor of Education
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