How to Fit an Engage NY Lesson into a Short Math Block

When asked to start using the Engage NY curriculum to teach math, I was completely overwhelmed.  I started printing out the modules (I know it’s SO much paper, but I need to be hands-on when I’m teaching), and just about lost it.  THERE WAS SO MUCH THERE! I had no clue where to start!

SO, I jumped right in.  My first few lessons were a disaster.  The kids weren’t used to so much content, I had no clue how to keep the lesson moving along quickly, and I was spending way too much time passing out supplies or  getting the students to pay attention.  I knew something had to be done.

I started with my classroom materials.  Check out this post about the materials you want to have on-hand if you are planning to teach Engage NY in any grade level.

Once I had all of my materials gathered, I needed to come up with a way to make them quickly and easily accessible to all of my students.  I keep all of the smaller student materials in a small bucket at each table group. Don’t have your students sitting in groups? Still use some type of container for every 4-6 students with materials those students will need. Place the bucket or container within arms reach of each group/set of students. This will save loads of time since students do not need to get up and out of their seats when you ask them to grab something for the lesson.

The Week Before

Next, because there is so much content in each Engage NY lesson, it is super important to get a handle on what you will be teaching.  You will not have time to be reading through a script as you try to teach and engage your students. I manage this by making sure I write all of my lesson plans the week before, and I skim through the lessons at that time.  I get a sense of what topics I will be covering, decide if I am going to skip over any lessons, and have a chance to gather any supplemental materials I may need.

Since I do my lesson planning on Thursdays, I make sure I get all of my copies for the next week done on Fridays.  When I printed the Engage NY curriculum, I separated out each type of printable by type.  So, I have an organizer with all of the homework, problem sets, exit tickets, sprints, and templates each chronologically separated into type. This has saved me a ton of time when gathering master copies to be printed.

The Morning of the Lesson

Now, on the morning of each lesson, I read through and highlight the important features of each lesson. Primarily the numbers and examples used in the fluency portion, and the math problems I will use in the problem set.  I personally need to do this the day of, otherwise I will not be able to remember what I needed to know for each particular lesson. This way, everything is fresh in my head and ready to go.

During the Lesson

Remember my copy of the lesson that I highlighted in the morning? I literally hold it in my hands as I teach.  I can quickly glance down at the papers as I go to keep on track and move from one problem to the next.  I don’t feel the need to read the script as I teach because I have already familiarized myself with the overall goal of the lesson, and I make sure that the questions I ask students as we sail through the lesson all lead towards the  foundational understandings I need students to come away from the lesson with. I also keep a close watch on the clock as I teach.


This pacing guide works well for a 55 minute math block. If you have less time, shave the extra minutes off of the Fluency Practice section. If you have more, you can add more time to the Problem Set or Debriefing section

  • 1-2 minutes – Gather Materials.
    • When math is about to start, or for those teachers who are departmentalized, as the students enter the room, I tell the students which specific materials they need for the day’s lesson.  They only have about 1 minute to gather everything, and I get started.  This will take some time for the students to get used to, but once they get the hang of it, it will really flow in your room
  • 15 minutes – Fluency Practice. 
    • If it is getting close to the 15 minutes into the lesson mark, and I am not done with the fluency, I will either speed quickly through what’s left, or just scrap it.  
  • 20 minutes – Concept Development.
    • During the lesson portion, I begin the problems in a very guided way. The first several problems take the longest as the students get the feel for the foundations of how we are doing the day’s math. Then, as the lesson progresses, I gradually release the students to do more and more of it on their own.  As I do this, I quickly circulate the room to get a feel for any students I need to pull into a small group once the rest of the class begins the problem set. Even though I allow the students to work through more and more of the problem on their own from one problem to the next, I make sure that I quickly show how the problem should have been done on the board at the front of the room before moving on. This can help clear up any misconceptions or calculation errors the students may have.
  • 10 minutes – Problem Set.
    • I usually have students complete the last question from the Concept Development portion of the lesson on their own. Then, for about the first 2-3 minutes of the Problem Set portion, as students can show me that they have the correct answer, I hand them a problem set.  I will then pull any students who struggled during the lesson, or those who cannot seem to get the hang of that last question, and make sure they get some more guided practice with me.
  • 2 minutes- Debrief.
    • I quickly make sure to go over 2-3 choice problems from the problem set.  I encourage students to write down anything from the board onto their papers and then use this when they are doing the nightly homework.
  • 5 minutes – Exit Ticket.
    • Printing and passing out exit tickets was taking extra time from my lesson, so I started just posting the exit ticket on the board.  Students write the answers on a sheet of lined notebook paper (which they put on their desks in that first minute of class). I then have them place their exit ticket into folders on my wall based on their overall perception of their ability to do the math in the lesson.
  • <1 minute – Get Homework.
    • I have the homework on a shelf right next to the exit ticket folders. Since the homework is essentially the same as the problem set, but using different numbers, there should be no reason to go over the expectations of how it is done. The procedure in my class is for students to grab a homework page from the pile as they drop off their exit tickets and either return to their seats or line up to switch to their next class.

The key is to keep the lesson moving quickly, and keep the students moving quickly from one part of the lesson to the next.   With a little practice, I know you and your students can really get the hang of getting through the most material in a reasonable amount of time!

Happy Teaching!


2 thoughts on “How to Fit an Engage NY Lesson into a Short Math Block

  1. Kat

    This was an awesome read. I love Engage and found it really works. My organization and pacing were my weaknesses. Now I feel more confident. Thank you so much!


  2. Mel

    This sounds great. I am obliged to use our purchased program GoMath and I do not like it!!! I just started in a district and came from one that used CPM math that I LOVED!!!! This may help me “supplement”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s