Monday, August 10, 2015

Curriculum, curriculum, curriculum

So, my original today was supposed to be about first day of school resources on Pinterest and Engage NY releasing the 2015 state test questions, but then I came across this article on TheDailyBeast, The Great Common Core Textbook Swindle.  The article from last month is about the majority of math "Common Core aligned textbooks" that really aren't that well aligned - something I think all math teachers these past few years can relate to, including myself.

The article references the nonprofit, EdReports, that set about to review elementary and middle school math textbooks, and found that "of the more than 80 textbooks it reviewed, just 11 met expectations for alignment with the Common Core."  Even more interesting, "nine of those books were from a single series, "Eureka Math" by publisher Great Minds, whose materials aligned with Common Core from kindergarten through eighth grade."  My interest was definitely peeked.

After registering and doing some research of my own on the Eureka Math website, I learned that the curriculum materials Eureka Math were (mostly) the same as Engage NY, at least for the middle school.  What made this a big deal for me is that in 2012-13, and 2013-14, I used Connected Math as my primary curriculum.  I loved the investigations and the design of the lessons, but I felt is was still lacking in terms of Common Core (even though CMP3 was "Common Core aligned"), and this year decided to use Engage NY as my primary curriculum.  I thought the flow of the units in Engage was much better, but the resources themselves were not easy to navigate.  Ultimately, I wasn't 100% happy with either resource.

Why did finding this article and learning about Eureka Math make me so happy?

Well, as I begin to plan out this year, and am once again faced with decisions of what resources to use, I am happy to learn that there is something good about Engage NY's/Eureka Math's curriculum maps and unit plans (even though I learned this on my own last year, it's nice to have it backed up with research).  I also know that the problems in Connected Math are engaging and are a sound basis for developing meaningful mathematical understanding.  So moving forward, blending the two is going to be my goal.  Now, this was my goal last year too, but Engage NY was new to me then, and I feel I have a much better idea (at least for the 7th grade) about how to navigate moving forward.  I also feel better prepared knowing where Engage NY comes from.

Between signing up and exploring Eureka Math, and organizing the released 2015 state test questions, I'd say that today was a pretty productive summer "work" day, that is hopefully laying the foundation for a productive 2015-16 school year.

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