How to teach a lesson in 39 minutes

I got this question today. Here is the question and my response. I hope it helps others who might be in the same situation!


Hi Duane,

I am a 5-8 math teacher at a catholic school. I am using the modules for the first time this year to teach 5th grade. I have a 39 minute class period every day and I am really struggling trying to teach a lesson per day to my 5th grade class. Do you have a suggestions on how to make this work better and get enough out of each lesson. Also, should I be assigning the homework every night? Any advice would help. Thanks!


Hi there!

Wow...trying to teach in 39 minutes with ANY curriculum would be difficult. It is especially difficult with such a rigorous curriculum as EngageNY/Eureka Math, but it can be done.

Here is how I'd treat each of the lesson components:

Fluency: Generally, you will only have time to do one fluency activity at most. Even though you only have 39 minutes, I would always make time for one fluency activity. Some days I might replace the given fluency activity with my own Number Talk.

Application problem: I am likely to usually skip this in a 39 minute class. Some days I could use the application problem and make the concept development time shorter...this is likely to occur when students have already spent several days learning a topic and now they are mostly practicing a skill.

Concept Development: This is where you are going need to have a lot of self-discipline to be very efficient in your teaching. Before teaching the lesson, do ALL the problems in the Problem Set to get a sense of what the students will be expected to do. Then identify 3 or so examples in the Concept Development that best prepare students for what they will be doing in the Problem Set. Then conduct your whole-class conversation as you solve those 3 examples on the whiteboard. Do not use a document camera to show the examples. Rather, do the 3 examples side-by-side on a whiteboard so that students can refer to them while they are working on the Problem Set. Your goal is to do the Concept Development in 15 to 20 minutes.

Problem Set: Students should be given ONLY 10 to 15 minutes to work on the problem set. Students will NOT necessarily do all the problems in the problem set. Your task is to beforehand select the "Must Do" questions that students will work on during those 10 to 15 minutes. Select a mix of easy problems and "stretch" problems. During the problem set time, this is your opportunity to assess who knows what and who is struggling. 

Exit ticket and debrief: skip it

Regarding homework: There is not much research evidence that says math homework as we generally know it has any positive impact on student achievement. Given this lack of clarity, I don't think you'd be hurting your students to NOT assign homework. That being said, if you want to assign homework, only assign the same "Must Do" problems that you had selected for the Problem Set. Also make sure students have access to my videos, so they can access the necessary math support at home that parents may not be able to provide.

I hope this help a little! Let me know if you have any other follow-up questions.

Last modified: Saturday, September 15, 2018, 9:22 AM