6 Tips for Making Math Intervention Work in the Middle Grades.

6 Tips for Making Math Intervention Work in the Middle Grades.

As a middle school math teacher, you are acutely aware of the daily struggles that arise with students who are unable to comprehend the new material due to a lack of foundational knowledge. In this blog post, we will explore some of the reasons behind this and provide six tips on how to incorporate effective math intervention in your classroom.

One of the primary reasons why students struggle in math is often that the fast-paced curriculum chosen for you leaves little room for students who require more time to understand a concept. This issue is compounded by the lack of early intervention in math skills, which creates a spiraling effect as students move up the grades. Therefore, it’s important to incorporate frequent math intervention in your classroom to address this problem.

So, what do you do when you have a class full of students where some are on or even above level and some may not be ready for what you are teaching? You cannot take class time to review skills from previous years (and honestly, not all students in your class will need that) but you need to do something. You need to bring math intervention into your classroom frequently… at least 2-3 times per week. If you have a math intervention program set up in your school, and a math interventionist, great! But, that does’t mean that should be all the intervention your students receive.

How can you make math intervention work in your classroom? Here are 6 tips.

  1. Track student progress. Knowing what your students are struggling with is the first key to unlocking the intervention puzzle. Not all students will need intervention. Some students always will. Keeping detailed records of student scores will help you determine who needs what.
  2. Provide explicit and systematic instruction. Require students to explain their thought process, give them guided practice, feedback and frequent spiraling. When delivering content to the entire class you are speaking to all students. When providing intervention you are speaking only to those who didn’t get it the first time around. You know they have been exposed to the skill(s) already so they have some background information. Your instruction should focus on exactly what they are missing.
  3. Focus on BASIC skills. Yes word problems (see below) and multi-step problems are important but the basic skills are essential. A student will not be able to solve even simplest word problem if they don’t have a toolkit of basic skills to pull from. A student cannot be expected to solve multi-step equations if they cannot solve a single step equation… or know how to combine like terms. A student cannot be expected to add rational numbers if they cannot add fractions. See where I’m going with this? Sometimes you may need to spiral back…. all the way back to the basics.
  4. Provide intensive focus on solving word problems and evaluating mathematics situations in real world scenarios. This seems to go against the step above but hear me out. For many students, they feel as though they’ll “never use this” so they don’t see the value in trying to understand. Fortunately for teachers in the middle grades, most of what you teach WILL be used in the future in some way. You can deliver basic integer problems using a football field or checkbook – basic fraction skill using cooking… the more you make them see that they’ll need that skill at some point, the more likely they are to try. And let’s be honest, saying “this will be on the test” is really not a good way to get them hooked.
  5. Allow to work with visual representations / math manipulatives whenever possible. The digital world is amazing but many students still desperately need to put their hands on things when learning. Provide fraction tiles when possible, let them flip around shapes for transformations, build composite figures… the more they can “see” it the more they will hopefully be able to get it.
  6. Spend a small amount of each intervention session building basic fact fluency. Consider taking the last 3-5 minutes of each intervention session to spiral back to fact fluency. Depending on the grade you teach and the level of your students it could involve you firing off double digit addition problems. Maybe you can go through a quick list of integer facts. Show graphs and ask students to visually identify the slope. Even struggling Algebra students should get a dose of basic skills.

By incorporating these tips, you can provide effective math intervention in your classroom, ensuring that all students have the foundational knowledge they need to succeed in math. Remember, every student learns differently, and it’s essential to provide tailored instruction to help each student reach their full potential.

Do you have any tips to add to this list? Share them in the comments if so!

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Hi, I'm Lindsay!

I create ready to go resources for middle school math teachers, so they can get back what matters most – their time!

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