In the past, I have written about the professional development opportunities I have had working for the ASSISTments Foundation at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After over two years of creating content for ASSISTments for the Eureka Math/EngageNY programs (grades 6-8), I started a new project in fall 2020, one where I build groups of similar questions, from a variety of sources, that will eventually be used to provide second chances for students to earn credit after they fail a problem.
Looking at problems with this wide-yet-narrow lens, while simultaneously being the person defining the lens, has reinforced my impressions of EngageNY/Eureka Math, Illustrative Math/OpenUp Resources…..and the other math programs.
Patterns and Focus
Sometimes, the difference between EngageNY/Eureka and Illustrative Math/OpenUp Resources is less one of better or worse and more one of difference, where I can’t tell which one is a better interpretation of the Massachusetts content standards or which one will better serve the students. For example, in 7th grade geometry with circles, Engage NY/Eureka Math is all about half- and quarter-circle combinations.
These problems involve identifying the radius/radii correctly, perhaps being efficient about combining parts with the same radii, etc.
Illustrative Math/OpenUp Resources has a different focus, with lots of full circles inside squares and not the same emphasis on “petals” and other problems formed with partial circles:
Beyond the differences between EngageNY/Eureka Math and Illustrative Math/OpenUp Resources, I have been struck by the marked difference in the quality of the problems in comparison to other, unnamed curricula in this ASSISTments project, the problems of which look very similar to what we perhaps saw in our textbooks as students–problems of the same format given over and over (and over!) again, with no deeper thought required:
There is a SIGNIFICANT difference in demand between the above question and the ones asked in Illustrative Math/OpenUp Resources and Eureka Math/EngageNY!
For all that it was a huge challenge to transition to EngageNY/Eureka Math when my former district made the change a few years ago, especially in the upper grades where the students had to transition without time to build up comfort in the new curriculum, it was well worth it, as I’m reminded of in looking at some of these overly repetitive, non-challenging problems.