Teaching Eureka Math to Students with Disabilities

Eureka Math Curriculum, also known as Engage NY is “the most widely used” math curriculum in the United States according to publishers at Great Minds.  The curriculum documents can still be found for free at the Engage NY website. This makes it a good option for general and special education teachers who may be looking for a math curriculum and are also on a tight budget.    

The Eureka Math curriculum has many features that make it a great fit for teaching students with math disabilities.  At each grade band, the curriculum tells an overall “story”. This means the concepts strategically building upon each other across time and grade levels.   This approach supports deep mathematical understanding when the curriculum is implemented as intended.

How Eureka Math is Organized

Eureka Math is organized in a way that makes it easy to digest once you get the hang of using the many materials that the curriculum has to offer.  When planning using Eureka, it is important to start with the end in mind.  This process is also known as backwards planning.

This approach is much better than planning lesson-by-lesson and day-to-day. To do this, it is important that we first look at the upcoming Module. Then we preview the upcoming Topics, and last, we can start to plan our daily lessons. 

There are multiple strategies covered and many opportunities for student practice in Eureka Math. If general and special education teachers strategically plan, all students are given the opportunity to have a firm grasp on mathematics. 

Eureka Math relies heavily on the concrete, representational, and abstract model which reinforces the math concepts and reaches different learning styles.  For students with a math disability, this instructional approach can be highly effective. 

Planning Using Eureka

This will take you through a lesson planning process that can be used with Eureka Math.  This process can be used by any teacher for any student, but will focus on how to best support students with disabilities in accessing this curriculum.  You will see snapshots of a planner that I use to capture the information discussed.

When planning using a Eureka Math Teacher Edition,  first we want to take a look at the table of contents. This comes before each module and it provides information around each Topic. 

This is a great time to bring in a snapshot which includes students’ IEP goals. This will help with knowing when we can incorporate IEP goal work.   Since our goals are standards-based IEP goals, making this connection to the standards-based grade level curriculum is important.

Using the Module Overview with Eureka Essentials for Long-Range Planning

Module Overviews provide a wealth of information that comes in handy when planning.  Teachers will want to first determine the focus standards using the Module Overview.

Foundational standards needed to be successful in each module are also listed.  This is very useful information when planning for how to ensure that students with math disabilities. Many times special education students also have learning gaps in math which need to be addressed prior to engaging in the grade level content.

When planning, I also like to utilize the website EMBARC, which provides a variety of resources for teaching Eureka. If you explore their Eureka Essentials documents recommendations around pacing as well as reviewing content from previous lessons or grade levels are included. This can help with considering gaps that may need to be filled for our students with math disabilities or difficulties.

Using the guidance from Eureka Essentials, you can determine which lessons you could potentially omit or consolidate. We know that when we are balancing filling in gaps with access to grade level content, that we aren’t going to be able to cover everything in the curriculum, so this helps a lot. Some school districts also have provided updated pacing guidance for Eureka based on the prioritizing of standards at each grade level.

When reading the Module Overview, we also get to see how the content plays out over the module. We are also provided with the key terminology.  Knowing this information can helps teachers focus on vocabulary when teaching special education students.  

Using Topic Overviews for Planning

Eureka Math Modules are then organized into TopicsTopic Overviews also provide information that is useful to a special education teacher. This includes the focus standards, the number of instructional days recommended, and information around coherence.   Coherence focuses on how math concepts play out across other modules and grade levels.

We are also given a summary around how the story unfolds over the series of lessons that are included within the Topic.  I like to capture this information in one place because it can give insight into how the skills build over time.

Adaptations at the Module and Topic Level

Just like with any curriculum, we have to find creative ways to make it accessible for our students with disabilities.  The best way to do this is at the Module and Topic Level. Instead of planning day-by-day, we should think through how we are going to provide access throughout the entire Module for our students’ with IEPs.

When thinking through adaptations for our students, we want to first think of the barriers that the upcoming standards-based content within the Module will present for our students. What are common misconceptions that students experience with this content? What have my students struggled with in the past? How will my students’ disabilities impact their experience with this new content?

After considering the barriers that students will experience we then want to think through strategies that can support them. Since Eureka follows a specific lesson structure, many of the adaptations that we put into place may be needed for most lessons. This is why we can identify those adaptations at the Module level. Once we get to weekly and daily lesson, planning we can get even more specific with our planning.

Click here to receive a FREE copy of a Eureka Module Planner.

Adapting Problem Sets, Exit Tickets, and Assessment

For many of our students, the problem sets presented by Eureka are going to be a lot to digest. For those who required modified or adapted materials, we are going to have to make adjustments to the curriculum so that our students can have access.

I use the EMBARC Eureka Essentials to determine the problems that are identified as Checks for Understanding. Those are the problems that I want to ensure that my students complete so that I know that they understood the lesson.

If you are teaching math in a virtual or hybrid setting this can be a challenge. However, exploring different approaches to lesson delivery, including alternative problems sets, can help make the content more engaging for students.  Digital problem sets can also be used in-person through a technology center or even for teacher modeling during the lesson.

Eureka Module Planning Template

Overall, Eureka is a very thorough math curriculum.  It can seem like a lot at first, especially if you are also trying to find the time for math intervention as well for your students with special needs.  However, if you plan strategically it can be a really powerful tool for helping students with math difficulties achieve in the area of mathematics. 

I have developed a template to help with this Module Planning Process. Click here to receive a FREE copy of a Eureka Module Planner.

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