I used to be one of those teachers who thought that I had to always be the one to stand up in front of the class to teach my students every lesson. Until one day I had more students who were working below grade level than on grade level. There was only one me and about seventy percent of the students from my three sections of math that needed Tier 2 Math Intervention.
Luckily for me, my perspective on learning changed when Michael Jackson died in 2009. At the time my son Justin was 15 years old. I can remember going in the kitchen and saying I can’t believe Michael Jackson is dead. My son said, “He’s dead?” I looked at him and asked if he knew who Michael Jackson was? With a smile he said, “Yes!” He went on to say that I watched all of his videos on Youtube and began to name some of his songs. I was shocked because he had learned about this person all on his own.
Productivity is not a word that you hear very often in the education setting because it’s often associated with product production. If you think about the definition of productivity you could apply it to the classroom by asking yourself how effective are your efforts with the resources, instructional strategies, and time that is available to you?
Getting through the curriculum is a daily struggle for most teachers, especially first year teachers. Since I teach students that are working below grade level I have to teach strategically.
You’re probably wondering what teaching strategically means. This means to focus on the big ideas for your grade level. Take fifth grade for instance, the big ideas for this grade level are using multiplication and division with fractions, fractions and decimals, and extending learning of fraction concepts.
If my students’ data from the previous year shows that only thirty percent of them are working on grade level I know that I will have to make time for math intervention by combining some of the skills and using the Flipped Classroom model.
Even though my students work below grade level the Flipped Classroom helped me to make time for my interventions. I stopped teaching multiplication and division like I taught my other concepts and started making Youtube videos and EdPuzzle. I already knew that it would take the whole school year for my students to master these skills so I used my intervention time to close these gaps.
Instead of teaching division and multiplication along with the curriculum pacing guide I taught it at the beginning of the year, so my students could master all of the other skills that included multiplication and division.
Use Your Resources Wisely
There are a plethora of instructional resources available to teachers. There’s technology programs such as Xtra Math, IXL Math, Mobymax, and the list goes on and on. The resources that you choose to use in your classroom should supplement your instruction. This means that they should support those big ideas at your grade level an your Tier 2 instruction. I typically choose two math programs to support my math intervention. These two programs are used on Tuesdays and Thursdays during small group instruction.
Time is another resource that you have to use wisely. I used Tuesdays and Thursdays as my intervention days. The focus of Tier 2 instruction is to provide a minimum of one extra hour of math intervention per week. Because I had so many students to meet with I took two class periods a week for intervention. My small group instruction was a top priority so I took the time I needed so that I close my students’ gaps.
There are many creative ways to make time for your Math Interventions. If making time is a struggle for you just remember the Pareto Principle. You may wear a lot of different hats but you MUST remember to consistently do the things that move the needle the most.