As with most things just getting started can be the most difficult step. Trust me, I know this all too well. It wasn’t until 2009, I realized that there was a pressing need for math intervention. My students had humongous gaps in learning, after school tutoring wasn’t working, and standardized testing was on my heels.
Although I knew I needed to implement the Tier 2 intervention, I didn’t have a clue where to begin. After trial and error I found that there were only three things I needed to get started with my math interventions.
Identify Student Areas of Weakness
If you’ve worked with students who struggle you know that they have many areas of weakness. It’s not humanly possible to close all of their gaps. So this is where you have to use your best judgement to identify gaps that directly align to the on grade level student expectations.
This means if you have to choose between teaching your students place value and learning their addition facts you’d have to choose the skill or concept that will quickly close the learning gap and put them closer to mastering the on grade level content.
Find the Vertical Alignment
The vertical alignment is your roadmap to closing your students’ achievement gaps. They are skills that build from grade level to grade level. Sometimes teachers can confuse this with the horizontal alignment, which is when math skills connect and build across the content that is supposed to be taught at that grade level.
When you’re looking for the vertical alignment for a particular skill your endpoint will always be your grade level student expectation. Listing the prerequisite skills for your grade level standard will help you find your starting point for your math intervention.
Finding the vertical alignment can sometimes be a tedious process because the prerequisite skill that you may be looking for may not always be found in the previous grade level expectations.
Gather Your Resources
The last but probably the most important part is identifying resources that you’ll use during math intervention. I’ve seen teachers use the same exact resources and math strategies for their lesson and intervention.
This defeats the purpose of math intervention. If the students weren’t successful with the Tier 1 instruction then using the same resources (manipulatives) and instructional strategies for your math intervention will yield the same results.
Tier 2 instruction requires a lot of strategic planning. Having a simple plan for getting started with your math interventions can put your students on a path to a school year full of growth and potential!