This year I planned on using GreatMinds Eureka Math curriculum (a.k.a. EngageNY) for Algebra 1 since I was going into the year with four preps and thought it would be better than what else we had (nothing). I wrote semester exams based on the course map and then started teaching. As I talked to colleagues and opened each lesson, I became more and more disappointed in what Great Minds had to offer me and my students. I began taking each lesson’s objective and then turning to the #MTBos Search engine, my google drive and my own mind to create each and every lesson. I wanted a resource that would make my life easier and provide some sort of coherence- not increase my workload and decrease coherence.
I was left without guidance on the rigor that was expected of students, and this past week feared that I wasn’t teaching the standards, but instead was just teaching Algebra stuff without a bigger picture in mind (which was true since I was focusing on procedural knowledge anyway. And while that is a “my bad” I do think that GreatMinds is partially at fault since I spent so much time redoing their work quickly, instead of pushing myself and my students to think deeper.)
After this week when I looked at my plans, the standards and said “Am I even supposed to be teaching this?” I couldn’t find good answers about inequalities- but what I did see was that I wasn’t using my time well and that class is/was too procedural. I’ve decided to reboot the course and follow the pacing of a more trusted curricula we have access to that doesn’t suck butt, with the long term goal of seeing if it is something to adopt formally. So, we’re rebooting, starting over – Unit 1, Chapter 1, Day 1 – on the sixth week of school.
I definitely have struggling learners who will benefit from seeing the content again and cycling through the math we’ve already done with a different flair. I’ll definitely benefit because I don’t have to write every lesson for the next 150 days. I’ll also benefit because I have the privilege of not ever going back on the GreatMinds website ever again.
Sucky parts: We’ve spent five weeks making progress and now we’re taking a step back to make leaps forward. Oh, and I wrote two semester exams that I won’t be using anymore. But those are #SunkCosts and it is essentially now or never for SY16-17. My kids deserve better than EngageNY and that’s what they’re going to get.
P.S. Dear Illustrative Mathematics team,
Please finish your 6-8 curriculum work, then move on to high school. I trust you and that your curricula will be worth the space it will take up on my Google Drive. Other free curricula don’t even meet that standard.
– A not-so-secret admirer