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Math Intervention: People NOT Programs

I get asked all of the time what do I use for my math intervention for my students. My response is always the same. I use the vertical alignment of skills and instructional strategies from the previous grade levels.

This may confuse some teachers because many believe that you can effectively teach and close achievement gaps by using a program. I’m here to tell you that programs don’t improve student outcomes people do!

Math Intervention Nuts and Bolts

True teaching and learning doesn’t come from purchased math intervention programs. Don’t get me wrong the progress monitoring part can be purchased, but the vertical alignment of skills should be used to close achievement gaps. There’s NOT a math intervention program that can be purchased that will meet the needs of your students with the highest needs. It’s just not possible.

Your math intervention should be based on real-time data. Once you have all of the data to make instructional decisions. You may find a few of the instructional strategies that will help your students in a purchased math intervention curriculum; it definitely won’t have it all.

Everything you need for math intervention can be found in the previous grade levels. The problem that most teachers face is that there’s not any vertical alignment support on their campuses. 

Resources and Instructional Strategies

Finding resources for your math intervention lesson can sometimes be challenging. I’ve found that my colleagues in other grade levels are my most valuable resources. If you think about it the intervention process is supposed to be a collaborative process. Your resources and instructional strategies should be researched based strategies. Generally, these strategies are already identified in the previous grade levels. 

Most of the campuses that I’ve worked at have had an IAT (Intervention Assistance Team) process. I do realize that this is not the case for most schools that have a large population of students who need math intervention support. 

Your math intervention is not supposed to follow a certain program or structure. The data from multiple data points such as, Universal Screening, qualitative data, and formative/summative assessments should be used to determine the Tier 2 or 3 Intervention targeted skills and concepts. Once this is done then you can choose your resources and instructional strategies.

Reteaching Math Concepts

The goal of your small group instruction is to quickly close gaps using research-based strategies. The strategies that you use to reteach a concept should not be the same strategy that you used for the initial lesson. 

If you’re a new teacher, you may struggle a bit with this part of the intervention because more than likely you will not have built your toolbox of math instructional strategies. Teaching a math concept a different way doesn’t necessarily mean changing the whole strategy and starting over.

When I have to reteach a concept or skill, I might use graph paper to help with keeping numbers aligned. Other times I have broken a part of a three by two multiplication problem into place value to help students multiply.

Reteaching a skill in a small group is more about breaking the concept down a little further so that the students can grasp the concept. If you start from scratch every time you have to reteach a skill the students will be confused, and you’ll never finish an intervention cycle.

Math Intervention is supposed to be strategic. If you’re using a math intervention program and you don’t see the results you want, then it’s time to reevaluate and create a new plan!

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I help math teachers who teach high need students to effectively manage their classrooms and deliver high quality math instruction. Learn more about me


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