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  • Aaron Davis

    November 17, 2020 at 2:21 am

    I am not a fan of Engage NY. When I arrived at my school (private international school in Amman, Jordan) a year and a half ago, every grade level followed the lesson progression of Engage NY with no diversions! I think a few years back they were told to do this so everyone was on the same page. I get this. It is important for teachers and students to be talking the same language. Unfortunately, because it is extremely prescribed and has the “I do this” “You do this” approach, the students are not accustomed to divergent thinking, curiosity and game play. I came from a school that had an inquiry based approach where students were used to asking questions, making educated guesses and claims, and challenged to find different (and more efficient) ways to solving problems.

    Our school collaborates with Megan Holmstrom and she introduced the idea of creating Unit Concept Planners to help teachers highlight the big ideas of each unit. The problem was that no classroom teacher had time to really develop these until I feel into my current position. So I am designing the concept planner to show the teachers how the Engage NY lessons fit with the Big Ideas and then I input other types of lessons (like 3 Act Math Tasks and more inquiry based lessons) that hit the same concept but are also reinforced with other rich tasks and games. I basically take the time to comb through the resources on Erma Anderson’s Live Binder for rich tasks that correlate with the standards covered in each unit and then align them to the Engage NY lessons on the concept planner. She references the tasks on the Howard County, MD website and lessons from the units from the Georgia Standards of Excellence Curriculum Frameworks. So I basically hyperlink those and prep them to be as user friendly as possible because if they are not user friendly, the teachers are less likely to use them. Basically, the concept planner allows teachers options on how to cover the concepts in the way they are most comfortable with. The responses from the teachers have been very positive especially from the Grade 1 and 2 teams who do not like Engage NY at all. They love the games and the rich tasks and more importantly, so do the students.

    When I first arrived at my school a few teaching assistants shared with me how boring math at our school is and how kids do not like it. I like to think (well, I know for a fact) that we are seeing a change in mindset at our school now when it comes to math. Distance Learning has thrown somewhat of a roadblock in this movement, but at least in the K-3 grades I see a lot of the rich tasks being assigned on Seesaw for the kids.

    I am curious how others are moving away from a more prescribed, “I do, you do” culture to a more inquiry-based, low floor high ceiling, game play approach.