Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Differentiated Math Intervention

Guest post brought to you by Cori

This year I was part of a curriculum writing team for my school district. For the last five to ten years we have been finding that our math scores have been consistently low, and so we have made it a district-wide initiative to focus on improving the way we teach math. We are doing a head-to-toe makeover of our basic math program, but also introducing a math intervention curriculum outside of the options we offer to classified students. This intervention would be for students who do not qualify for additional help by law, but who consistently seem to fall behind or struggle with important math concepts. The best part of the program is the differentiation it will be able to offer each student. The program will be fluid, which means that a student who qualifies for the intervention because he or she is struggling with the first marking period's concepts may not necessarily need to continue with the extra help once the second marking period rolls around. This will also free up space for students who may need to enter the program later in the year. Students will be pulled out in small groups for a double dose (or in the case of tier 3 students, a triple dose) of brief math lessons. Using assessments, we will be able to form these groups by similar areas of need so the lessons can be specific to each child's weak concepts. This will eliminate useless time spent on a lesson about geometry that one student may need, while another student is really only there to solidify their multiplication and division facts. Teachers will be able to utilize a variety of manipulatives and tools with these small groups which are often not available or more difficult to implement in the whole class environment. We implemented a very similar program for Language Arts about five years ago, and while it took a year or two to work out the scheduling kinks, we saw really impressive results almost immediately. The ability to provide extra differentiated instruction to meet the needs of our struggling learners is a really exciting prospect, and it is an honor to be a part of team that will hopefully bring this to fruition next year!