Materials Adaptation
Part 8 of Teacher Perspectives

A Third Grade Teacher’s Perspective on Eureka Math

What does Eureka look like in the classroom?

Jessica Doughty teaches at a Title One, rural school in Daviess County, Kentucky with 52% of the students receiving free breakfast and lunch. She will transition into the role of instructional coach this upcoming school year.

This is year one for implementing Eureka Math at my school — Whitesville Elementary.  We discussed whether or not we should roll it out slowly, starting with primary grades and then expanding to intermediate in the subsequent years; the staff ultimately decided, however, to dive straight into learning what this curriculum had to offer.  Now that I’m at the end of year one, here’s what I’ve noticed about the curriculum and some of the unique activities my colleagues and I have done to make the program work for our students.

There definitely is more focus within the standards, and this is reflected in the Eureka curriculum with more time devoted to the Major Work of the Grade. The modules are tagged to the grade-level standards taught in each lesson, so I’m quickly able to see the focus areas. I also see the elements of Rigor outlined within each lesson.  For example, I appreciate the daily fluency lessons that are built in at the beginning of each day.  This is a regular routine for the students and they become accustomed to this practice – building fluency became a regular part of each day.  A lot of review is hit in the fluency lessons, allowing confidence to build over time.  In my classroom, we have added some “Count By” songs to this fluency time, as well.  I found several teacher-created videos by Mr. DeMaio (like this one – a cover of “Uptown Funk” to help practice the 3 times tables) that have helped to pump up the engagement level of this fluency time.  He creates covers of many popular songs the children are familiar with to incorporate counting by 3’s, 4’s, 6’s, and so on.

Each day also provides conceptual learning time for students to dig deeper into the standard we are studying.  This is a time that I have really encouraged team work within my classroom.  The text doesn’t specify how to differentiate for the needs of your various learners, but I have grouped my students so that they have student coaches scattered throughout the room.  I approach this learning time with a “teaching up” mentality and the students really embrace working with one another.

In addition, application work is provided each day through word problems.  In my classroom, we have math notebooks for each one of these problems- students are encouraged to first attempt solving the problem on his or her own.  After an allotted amount of time, students begin to share their answers and we collect student responses at the board to analyze the various responses and tally how many students produced each different answer. (These are strategies I have added on my own that are not provided in the teacher instruction.)  The curriculum encourages a process called RDW in answering and modeling these problems (Read, Draw, Write- Equation, Sentences).  This is when they add Mrs. Doughty’s way to their notebooks to compare their answer to mine for similarities and differences. I love this part of the lesson because, when the students and I have the same answer but took different approaches to get there, it really demonstrates that there’s not simply one correct way to arrive at a solution.  It also provides feedback on their thinking, but pushes them to become independent thinkers, as well.

In terms of Coherence, while I have not sat down specifically with other grade levels to look at each module as a whole, I feel that I have a unique perspective since I not only teach at the school but also am the parent of two students who attend the school.  My oldest son is in 5th grade and my youngest is in 1st.  I have been dazzled by the Coherence I have seen through their work and what I am teaching in my 3rd grade classroom.  So much of what my 1st grader brings home excites me for what lays before him.  This curriculum presents strategies early on in kindergarten, such as number bonds, tape diagrams, and so on, that they see repeated over and over throughout the years.  The language becomes common to the children and parents, as well. I am predicting great growth over time and usage.

I have not had to rearrange the content to be more coherent.  During our initial training, it was highly encouraged to allow the modules to play out in the specific order they were presented.  The idea is that the learning would take place like a story over the course of the year and I found this to be very true.  As we are working on our final module, I am seeing how the modules before this one are being tied into the work in this module so cohesively.

Likewise, I have not found the need to supplement any part of this curriculum with other resources.  I have incorporated a strategy called, “My Favorite No” in order to utilize my exit slips as an opportunity for deeper learning. In this activity, all students answer the same question, I sort the answers in piles of “yes’s” and “no’s” – right and wrong answers. Then I choose my favorite “no” and we look at the process used for solving the problem together. This strategy was shared with me before I began teaching with Eureka Math and I have found it to be highly effective and useful with the exit tickets provided by this textbook.  If you would like more information on this strategy, see this link from The Teaching Channel:

Eureka Math is scripted for the teacher and anticipates student responses, which is very useful for studying in advance.  This makes each module easy to follow and easy to understand what is expected.  While some teachers may find this a bit confining, you can make it your own by how you build relationships within your classroom to support the diverse learners in your environment.  There are not many scaffolding supports in place in the curriculum, which could leave room for the teacher to determine some best practice strategies for implementing each lesson.  Another simple plus to the scripted lesson plan is that when you need to make plans for a substitute teacher, it is very specific in what the substitute should say and do.

As a whole, I am more than impressed with Eureka Math as a core curriculum for teaching with the Shifts of Common Core in mind.  It is evident that the material was written to challenge and engage students at all levels, and the scaffolding that is embedded becomes obvious as the children progressively move through each lesson of the modules. I anticipate that our school will continue to head in the direction of aligning our goals to college- and career-ready standards,  and am looking forward to seeing what our students can accomplish over time.

20 thoughts on “A Third Grade Teacher’s Perspective on Eureka Math

  1. Grade 3, Module 2, Lesson 6.
    (T) 1-kilogram weight
    (T) 1-kilogram benchmark bag of beans
    (S) 1-kilogram benchmark bag of beans (one per pair of students)
    (S) digital metric scale
    (S) pan balance
    (S) gallon-sized sealable bag
    (S) rice
    (S) paper cup

    I have no digital metric scale. (Much less one per pair of students.)
    I have no kilogram weights.
    Most of all, I cannot purchase 12 kilograms of rice for my students so that each pair can have one to pour out, handle, and waste, and inevitably spill all over my carpets. That’s 26 pounds of rice that they want packaged individually so we can draw on them. No, thank you.

    Additionally, Eureka Math provides no differentiation or enrichment, it’s worksheet-heavy, and the activities are boring. What I need is an honest forum where teachers can problem solve these issues, rather than just praise another one-size-fits-few program.

    1. Your comments show a lack of understanding of Eureka Math and how the teaching materials and activities lend themselves to having both the teacher and the students actually understanding the mathematics. Picking 1 lesson to condemn an entire resource is pretty short sighted.
      The activity that you mention is a suggested activity, and in the lesson notes it mentions that you don’t need to use all the materials with all the students. The gist of the lesson is to familiarize students with the idea that 1 kg is a measure of weight (mass) and can be used regardless of the material being weighed. The lesson objective is to build and decompose a kilo, to reason about the size and weight of metric units up to 1 kg. It gives students an actual context for what a kilogram is, what it may look like, feel like, etc. Imagine that…making mathematics make sense!
      When you plan out a module in Eureka Math, you need to use your judgement as an educator based on what resources and materials you have, what is best for you as a teacher, and your students. If you are looking for a curriculum where you open to page 37 and teach the lesson, Eureka Math is not for you!
      The differentiation and extension in Eureka Math are built into each problem set, and homework. The teacher makes the decisions about what is must do, can do, and extension. Eureka math is not a cookie cutter curriculum. The teacher needs to make instructional and student work decisions based on the class needs. What is remediation/enrichment in one class (or for one student) may not be for another group (or individual).
      To teach Eureka Math you need to study the mathematics. I suggest you read the book “Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics” by Liping Ma

      1. I’ve taught fourth-grade Eureka math for four years, three classes per day. My issues with the program are many. First and foremost, there is nothing engaging about this program. Each lesson requires me to create an anticipatory set to draw students in. Having an essential question, tied to the children’s lives, would be helpful. Although there is small review section in the beginning of the each lesson, the curriculum teaches one concept at a time and doesn’t combine areas of study. While bar models are taught throughout the units, we don’t see number lines, pie diagrams, etc. When students are presented with these problems in testing, they are not familiar with the design of the problem. While a teacher can add these alternate strategies, the program does not include them.
        The biggest issue I have with the program is that it starts the year assuming students recall everything they learned the previous year. There are two lessons on lines, rays, and line segments. It quickly moves to angles and classifying triangles by attributes. If a student misses one day of math lessons, they are behind. The program is scaffolded but moves so quickly.
        Although it moves quickly, there are upwards of 180 lessons and many school districts do not have that many days of instruction. We combined lessons, but this was not always in the best interest of learning.
        Students who struggle with reading will definitely struggle with this program. Word problems are difficult for struggling readers to interpret. Again, teachers differentiate, but it would be so much easier if the program included problems with lower level reading.

        1. I agree. It is not very engaging at all, and not very suited to online school. You are right about the gaps with number lines etc…

    2. I agree with Ms. B and will add that the students find Eureka math frustrating because they easily know the answers to the basic questions and can’t understand the need for all this ‘math sentence’ nonsense. I find it necessary to agree with them and in most schools the only reason Eureka math is being used is to satisfy politicians. It is a very cumbersome method and I can only describe it as taking a trip from point A to point B but having to get there via point C, D, E, F…

      And then there’s this ‘Magic Sticks’ thing. How silly!

      I have a 1st grader that excels at math skills and is well into learning multiplication. Eureka math has become an hindrance to his learning and he get a VERY frustrated with it. How do you tell a bunch of bright 1st graders that what they’re doing is good for their math skills when they cannot see the logic in it? Complete nonsense.

      Then there are the questions themselves. There is no way your average 1st grader can read these things. In addition the descriptions of the lessons from the EngageNY website read like the babble from someone far removed from proper sentence structure and writing skills in general. Run on sentences abound. One of my paid skills is writing instructional documentation and for corporate presentations and I’d be thrown out if my written words were remotely close to the convoluted writing ‘style’ used in conjunction with Eureka.

  2. Just starting this program this year……Does anyone have any recommendations for how to manage the student books? I teach second grade and each student has 3 books right now for the first 3 modules! That is wayyy more than they can manage, flipping between books within the lesson. Is there a better way before I try to recreate the wheel???

  3. How long is your instructional period for mathematics? I’m so swamped with managing books and materials and instruction, I’ve yet to finish a 60 minute lesson in 60 minutes. I use a timer to keep me moving through the lesson, because you can’t dare spend 9 minutes on the openers when it calls for seven. We’re early in our use of this program, but right now it’s hard to be convinced. Help!

  4. So I’ve used the Eureka modules (engageNY) for 5 years now at grades 4 and 5, as well as 3 years at 3rd. I won’t go into heavy detail on the pluses and minuses of the curriculum (a little at the end). That would be a lengthy essay. After 5 years, I still stand somewhere in the middle.

    As far as managing materials, we have been photocopying rather than purchase books, and so the materials are all grouped by lesson as they are in the teacher files. The kids get a module (or half a modules for the big ones) in a school-provided binder. It is an immense investment in time, toner and paper (some of which goes to waste) but I think it is more efficient in the classroom than the separate books.

    To fit it all in, suffice it to say, you just can’t fit it all in 60 minutes. Even with a timer and carefully prepared Smartboards or Powerpoints, it just doesn’t happen. The implementation and preparation guide they put out is useful, but the protocol is too cumbersome and time-consuming for daily use. I’ve taken to looking at every lesson and deciding what is the crux of the lesson and what will I use that supports that (sometimes I have 5 minutes, sometimes more. We’re all human). So I pick and choose between the fluency work, application problems, concept development examples and problem set/exit ticket/homework questions. It is neither ideal nor a perfect science, but it has mostly worked. It also changes from year to year a bit based on who’s in front of me and how they are doing. I pick the fluency work based in part on how they are doing with various skills and previous exit ticket(s). I have added supplements to support fluency as needed. I also have found many of the openers/entries to the lessons to be boring, so I will tweak or change the beginning often to create some level of engagement. I’ll grant that I’m not there really yet after 5 years and still tinkering.

    The reality is that though there was a lot of good work and thought that went into the production of the Eureka/EngageNY math, it was done with some haste. They’ve never really undertaken major examination and revision. I think if they had, the product could be more lively and successful. Some fault also lies in the writers of the Common Core Standards (and various states’ versions) which demands a deep level of thinking on the part of teachers and students – a double-edged sword to be sure. It also has a few topics and skills misplaced in my opinion. I’m sure there were valid reasons, but some of them elude me (i.e. complex area in 3rd grade). The Standards require some real thought and understanding of the math behind it and the vertical alignment to best teach it (generally speaking). Sadly, most teachers don’t have that kind of time or PD to get there.

  5. I’m a parent of a 2nd grader. Eureka math had made Math more difficult than what it should be. Please – tape diagram, arrow diagram, etc – to solve a simple addition and subtraction? I have spoken to a few parents I come in contact with and none of them appreciate Eureka math methods. I‘ve had to show my son the simple way of solving his addition and subtraction using the “vertical” method (or I say Column it) and he’s so happy he can do it much easier and faster! After he gets the answer, he found it easier to do the other method just to appease his teacher or the homework. I‘ve had to go through the sample worksheet myself just to help my son understand the methods and I am flabbergasted at the complexity children are being put through at 2nd grade…they not only have to understand/comprehend word problems, now they have to go through all these steps! Addition and subtraction are simple math FGS!

    I can’t wait to see how much more complicated multiplication and division Eureka Math had made them..I’m now making sure I make him memorize his multiplication tables and I KNOW i will have to teach him how I was taught so he can actually understand it and solve his problem the simpler way. My son can do his math in his head, but eureka math doesn’t seem to encourage that – instead it wants him to draw lines, bubbles, squares etc…instead of dealing with the numbers, like 1 + 1 = 2.

    Someone mentioned about the methods taught as being “real life”?? Since when did your bank showed you your bank ledger with drawing circles or arrow diagram? Real life we use numbers, not drawings!

    Why not take a poll on what parents think about this method? I understand teachers created this system, but children are frustrated and more than not parents as well!

    1. I am a fifth-grade student and I agree, it sucks. My parents teach me, and I think Eureka overcomplicates it. We are literally told to write out repeated addition (for our lesson) fifteen times instead of the multiplication that my parents taught me.

    2. I can’t agree more. I also have a 2nd grader and she was so good in her math skills before we moved to a school system that uses Eureka math. She is frustrated with boring lessons and losing her interest only in math. I feel like so many strategies to do a simple addition/subtraction problem confuse her rather than help her understand. She enjoys the vertical method and always gets the right answers, but gets puzzled when asked to use different methods. Moreover, the curriculum seems to run too fast without giving enough time and practice to build a concept for a 7-8-year-old.

    3. The font is too small! My students are also frustrated with the quality of the print-very fuzzy sometimes-not a fan. Too much! Inconsistent!

  6. As a parent in a district that has used Eureka math for the past 4 years I am still shocked that anyone would think that this is a good math program.

    I have a 4th and 6th grader so I have been dealing with this program for a while and have yet to have anyone in our district give an honest answer about why this would be a good choice.

    My daughter in 4th grade is working on multiplication and is being shown 4 different ways or “strategies” to do the same problem (Area model, partial products, distributive property, and the standard algorithm). This is confusing and ridiculous for 9 and 10 year olds. Our school sends home links to videos for parents because no one understands it. We are a middle class family who lives in a more affluent well educated neighborhood. When you have highly educated adults who cannot understand – you have a problem. Also, who wants to watch a video after getting home from work so then you can go on to help your child finish their homework because they don’t get it either.

    Yesterday my daughter said that she just didn’t get math because she just isn’t smart. The truth is that she is smart. She is just having trouble because when you are shown 4 different ways to do the same problem you start to mix up the strategies that are used to solve them. I am angry beyond words that she feels this way .

    My son in 6th grade is very smart and in the Gifted and Talented double accelerated math program. When I showed him the chart with 4 different ways to do a multiplication problem and asked what he is doing now, he said, “The standard algorithm – it’s much easier and faster.” To that I say, yes it is!

    We have always been told that having multiple strategies helps those students who struggle with the standard algorithm. Ok, maybe that is true that some students brains are wired in a way that one of these other strategies makes more sense to them. But why would you put an entire classroom of kids through all of this work when you could just choose to differentiate for the students who need it.

    Two years ago my daughter summed it up. She was working on her math and frustrated and said “I hate Eureka math! All they do is show you is show you fifty thousand ways to do simple math!” : )

    If you district is looking at this program please think twice. You will be saving you and your staff a lot of time and energy in communications with frustrated and angry parents. Your staff will thank you because this is not easy for our teachers to learn either. Finally, you will be saving your students the confusion and frustration that comes with this program.

  7. I was first introduced to Eureka Math when I joined the school I am currently working for now. I really think that Eureka tries to have good intentions, but the expectations are not developmentally appropriate. I teach pre-k kids and they’re ask to do worksheets for math AND they’re asked to sit for 30-40 minutes worth of a math lesson? This just isn’t developmentally appropriate at all. There is so much research out there that shows that 4-5 year-olds cannot sit for long periods of time, what is appropriate is 15-20 minutes max. Math should be simultaneously incorporated into their days learning, not taught in the same way you would teach upper elementary kids. I do not teach the curriculum to the “T” because . Also, it really isn’t English language learner friendly at all.

  8. I’m not sure why my district bought Eureka math. It does not align to state standards. Its going to be interesting to see how the kids perform on the state test.

  9. All VERY well said. Eureka is cumbersome, counter-intuitive, overly complicated, confusing, and boring. It expects young children to be able to memorize multiple poorly-related steps in order to solve simple algorithmic problems. The kids already know the answer, but are scored poorly if they are not able to recall the complicated steps necessary in order to solve the problem “the Eureka way.” Their frustrations VERY often spill over into recess, manifesting themselves in overly aggressive or confrontational play. IMHO the entire premise of the system is flawed. I mean, if a simple expression is too difficult, how can one expect a complex method of solving it to be less difficult? It just doesn’t make any sense.

  10. My school district shall use Eureka math for the first time during the 2023-2024 school year. I was curious to hear comments from educators and/or school districts that have used Eureka math. After reading the reviews, I have a much better understanding and won’t be surprised if the student outcomes are as mentioned in the comments that have been shared here with readers.

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About the Author: Jessica Doughty teaches at a Title One, rural school in Daviess County, Kentucky with 52% of the students receiving free breakfast and lunch. She will transition into the role of instructional coach this upcoming school year.