Curriculum-Based Middle Level Math Interventions
Research indicates that middle level students who struggle in mathematics can be successful in on grade level course work provided they receive additional instructional time and support (Burris, Heubert, & Levin, 2006). To be effective, this additional instruction and support must be in addition to and integrated with the regular classroom (Balfanz, Mac Iver, & Byrnes, 2006). Therefore, the purpose of middle level math intervention is to allow all students, with the exception of functional/life skills students, access to the regular curriculum with the support they need to be successful. Math Intervention is an extension of the regular grade level course that provides students who need it additional focused instruction and support at the needed level of intensity. No student should be placed in math intervention if she/he is not also enrolled in the corresponding grade level math course. That is, no student should be enrolled in math intervention as his/her sole math course.
Middle Level Math Intervention Goals
• To increase student self-efficacy in mathematics.
• To support students in mastering grade level math standards.
• To re-teach critical concepts and skills based on DCA results to prepare for NeSA-M.
• To fill pre-requisite grade level skill gaps.
The structure of this course is truly “fluid” with students entering and exiting as needs dictate. Students rotate out of an academic connections course and into the fluid math support class to receive additional instruction that focuses on a particular math concept the student has not yet mastered. A fluid math cycle may last one to two weeks. For maximum effectiveness, course size should be 10 students or less. This fluid structure requires quality communication, tight
logistics, and a strong teamwork approach among building staff in order to be successful. Fluid Math is not a distinct course, i.e. it is not identified separately on a student progress report. Student progress within a fluid math cycle will be reflected through his/her regular math course grade. Progress/Report card comments should be used to acknowledge the connection between a student’s time spent in a fluid math cycle and improved understanding of grade-level math content.
The concepts considered for re-teaching and re-learning in a fluid math cycle are identified during PLC work and based on formative and summative assessment data. Therefore, student performance on assessments determines his/her placement in a fluid math cycle. Teachers typically recommend students with borderline below proficient scores for this placement because it is believed that these “on the bubble” students can most benefit from a short time-period of
intensive re-teaching and re-learning in order to reach proficiency.
It is important to communicate with parents at the start of the school year the purpose of Fluid Math Intervention. A letter explaining the student benefits and placement logistics for fluid math intervention is found in this guide. The building principal is responsible for sending this communication to families.
Components of Fluid Math Support Lessons
Math Intervention lessons should be designed so that students have the opportunity to“experience” mathematics through a variety of learning tasks. Learning tasks need to vary, ratherthan simply re-stating initial math instruction, but slower and louder. Although the goal ofIntervention is not necessarily to make math “fun,” by varying the learning tasks and making theinstruction engaging the Intervention teacher has the opportunity to reach more students andbuild success. The research indicates students “enjoy” those subjects in which they experience
success, the ultimate goal of Intervention. Components of this learning experience include:
• Direct instruction – Math Intervention is not a homework/study hall period.
• Re-teaching of regular course content with emphasis on results of District Common Assessments for Math (DCA-M = Benchmark).
• Hands-on learning tasks with extensive modeling.
• Additional guided practice.
• Emphasis on reading, understanding, and representing problems – the problem solving process.
• Classroom discussion and “math talk” – there should be a great deal of teacher-student interaction during class.
• Emphasis on teaching math vocabulary – word walls.
• Spiral review (use of NeSA-M review materials)
• Addressing pre-requisite skill gaps
• Use of appropriate Technology (geogebra, virtual manipulatives) to enhance the learning experience.
Progress/Final academic mark for Math Intervention
Because Math Intervention is an extension of the regular math course and is intended to support student mastery of the regular objectives. Math Intervention is to be graded on an “individual”basis and is given either satisfactory (S) or needs improvement (N) under the progress/final grade column. Commendable (C) is not an option as this sometimes sends parents a false message concerning the student’s academic achievement in mathematics. Generally, students of this nature do not need to be in Math Intervention.
S – The Satisfactory student consistently uses his/her time in Math Intervention to improve his/her understanding of grade level objectives and this is reflected in the student’s regular course success. This implies that communication has taken place between classroom and Intervention teacher if they are not the same person.
N – The Needs Improvement student does not consistently use his/her time in Math Intervention to improve his/her understanding of grade level objectives and this is reflected in the student’s regular course success. This implies that communication has taken place between classroom and Intervention teacher if they are not the same person.