Intervention…Who Needs It?

Written by Donna Boucher

Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.

I was a classroom teacher for many years, an instructional coach for several more, and I served as a K-5 math interventionist for four years. Each role has allowed me to look at remediation through a different lens. With my intimate involvement in the Response to Intervention (RTI) process, I saw patterns emerge in how we identify and serve students deemed at-risk in math. It can’t all be about classroom grades or standardized test scores. We have to look at the underlying reasons for a student’s struggles. And if we are identifying large chunks of our student population as Tier II or Tier III, we have to look deeper for systemic reasons.

Students with Behavioral Issues

Let’s just take this one off the table. If a child is failing math because of a behavior issue, I can’t help. Sure, I can forge a relationship with the student and coax the math out of him, but you can do that as easily as me. It does no good to put a student with behavior issues in a math remediation group with students who truly need remediation. I would also put students who have failing grades because they don’t complete work in this category.

Students Who Lack Current Grade Level Skills

Face it, students do not all learn at the same pace. Some learn more quickly and some more slowly. If a teacher tries to teach all students at the same pace, some will fail. That doesn’t mean those students need to be pulled out for remediation. It probably means that the teacher should reflect on her instructional strategies to determine if they are meeting the needs of all students. A teacher who underutilizes small group instruction will likely have a higher percentage of students not mastering grade-level skills because whole group instruction will not adequately meet the differing needs of students.

Students Who Lack Number Sense

These students are probably good candidates for RTI. If a student does not understand how to compose and decompose numbers, see the relationships between the operations, or lacks a basic understanding of place value concepts, they will undoubtedly fall further and further behind in math until those foundational areas are addressed. That said, this is the primary learning that is going on in K-2, so if a student lacks number sense in K-2, it could be argued that they just lack current grade-level skills. So then we go back to the last conversation–is the teacher differentiating instruction and working with students in small groups at their level?

Students Who Can’t Apply Mathematics

“They can multiply, but when it’s in a word problem they bomb it!” These are often the students who fail standardized tests. Students need to always see mathematics in context. Sure, they need to learn computation skills and how to generate equivalent fractions, but if they learn those skills in isolation, they never see the application of the skills in a real-world setting. Just as we have to teach students mathematical concepts, we have to teach them how to dissect and solve word problems. This should not involve tricks and keywords, it must happen through modeling and strategic instruction, including reading comprehension strategies. In Texas, process standards are embedded into 75% of the items on our state assessment. If we don’t embed process standards into 75% of our classroom instruction, our students will not be successful.

Students with High Mobility Rates

My heart goes out to these kiddos. Their families can’t stay put in one place long enough for them to learn anything! They often come to us with huge gaps, because as they move around they miss big chunks of learning. These students definitely benefit from intervention, which can close the gaps and get them back on track.

Students with Learning Difficulties

There are students who, despite our best instructional practices and efforts, can’t seem to overcome their struggles. Additional testing is often required to determine if these students require the specialized talents of a special education teacher.

I hope this list gives you some food for thought.  I’d love to hear your comments and personal stories about intervention!

57 Comments

  1. Kerry Marshall

    Do you have any suggestions for teaching the reading comprehension in math story problems? My school has analyzed our data and found this to be an issue! We are looking for a strategy for problem solving we can implement school wide to help the students better analyze a problem, without using key words, as you said! We saw the “CUBES” method and are thinking of implementing it.
    We do a TON of modeling and sharing of strategies, but it seems that when the students read the problem themselves, they lack an understanding of what the problem is asking them.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Kerry, that’s the next blog post I’m working on! You might want to check out the blog post that I linked to in the post above. It references a book by Laney Sammons that gives great insight into applying reading comprehension strategies to word problems.

      I’m not sure there is “a” strategy. Personally, I think methods like CUBE and other similar methods only teach students to follow a sequence of rote steps. I’ve seen students box, underline, and circle and still not be any closer to knowing what the problem is asking or be any more successful in solving it.

      Personally, I think it comes down to teachers understanding and teaching strategies that help students think and visualize their way through the problem. Like I said, I’m working on that blog post!

      Reply
    • sfmuellr

      Like many schools we too have been discussing how to address the problem solving issue. Many teachers use strategies like CUBES, but I agree that students get caught up on following the steps and miss the basic understanding of the problem. We recently adopted the UPSE model of problem solving. Understand — Plan — Solve — Evaluate or Check. We are really focussing on the Understanding section, with grade levels using strategies appropriate to the developmental level of their students. This model can also be applied to all subject areas. So we are giving this a try and hoping that having a school wide approach will move our students to improve their comprehension.

      Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      That problem solving model comes from George Polya and is widely accepted as the gold standard. The emphasis on the Understanding phase is huge, because so much goes into understanding the problem.

      Reply
    • Rebecca

      We use the 3 Reads Strategy, and kids do well with it. It teaches them to utilize their reading skills (visualization, looking for supporting details, etc.) in the context of a math story problem.

      Reply
  2. Mkorn

    As a math interventionist I focus on problem solving with my K-5 students. Over the years I have come to realize that it is not always lack of comprehension that prevents their success. If our students are not allowed the time with hands-on materials and visual models, they may not develop a deep understanding of the operations. Too often students are pushed to “naked number” computation which has no context. When they are faced with the context of a word problem, they may not be able to connect the action in the problem to the action of a given operation. I watched a third grade student time and again try all four operations for each word problem until she found an answer that made sense in the problem. She had no idea how to match up an operation with an action. We can not rush students through the important stage of making meaning through experience.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Love the reference to “naked numbers”. Students must attach labels to their numbers to truly understand the situation. I think I had that same third grade student!

      Reply
  3. Caroline

    Great post Donna. To often in my experience teachers call for intervention before evaluating their own teaching. If a number of your students are not getting what you are teaching the problem is seldom the students. It is almost always an issue with the teaching strategies being used. Look first to yourself is my motto.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      So important that teachers are reflective, Caroline!

      Reply
  4. Staci Erickson

    Yes yes and yes!! I am a math interventionist as well. We are also a TAP school and we are field testing strategies to help students with reading comprehension strategies that they will use in math problem solving. I just talked to the teachers at our school about this. The students who fail math standardized test a lot of times fail reading as well. It’s not because they can’t do the math. It is all about reading comprehension. Struggling readers struggle to visualize what they are reading. If they can’t visualize then they can’t comprehend, which leads to break down. How many times have we heard the phrase “If they can’t read, they can’t do math.” We have to go deeper than that. Most kids can do the math. It should be “If our students have poor reading comprehension than they can’t do problem solving.” Also, having the students constantly justify their thinking is crucial when doing problem solving. One, it helps the teacher to correct any misconceptions. Two, if they can truly justify why they chose an operation or strategy, than they truly understand the problem. We have to get away from the methodical way of doing math. Where students are required to do a strategy that includes underling the question, circle important info. etc. Can they help some kids? Sure. But if a teacher doesn’t have the students paraphrase the question for their own understanding or explain their thinking on why they think some is important than children become robotic and do these strategies without even thinking. Teaching THINKING is so crucial for our student’s success.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      I love everything you said, Staci! It has also been my experience that students who struggle with word problems can’t visualize what’s going on in the story. That’s a huge part of what I work on with my students. It really takes time and focusing on fewer problems with more in-depth analysis. Qualtiy over quantity.

      Reply
      • Leslie Dudman

        I too intervene with struggling math students. Our district is working with a local university and they are preaching (to the choir with me) to contextualize the problems and use fewer of them!

        Reply
        • Donna Boucher

          That’s a great message to be preaching, Leslie!

          Reply
    • Laurie Fortier

      I also think that problem solving is all about the thinking! I just rewrote the lyrics to the song,
      All About the Bass with 2 4th grade tier 3 students. We sing, Because you know I’m all about the thinking all about the thinking, no rushing! We hope this will help students slow down and really try and discuss and understand the problem before they attempt math computation

      Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      That’s cute, Laurie!

      Reply
  5. Anonymous

    I agree, Donna. Visualizing story problems is hugely important. We use the Investigations math program at our school and they do a lot of work with visualizing story problems. It has worked very well with my 2nd graders this year. Much better rate of problem solving.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      When reading, our students learn to make a “mind movie”. Now I use that same phrase with my math students!

      Reply
      • Molly DiPirro

        We have the students retell the story without numbers. Once they take the numbers out of the story, it helps to make sense of what is going on. “Sam had SOME oranges and SOME apples….”

        Reply
    • Margie Pearse

      So much about this entry and all the wonderful responses speak to my heart!

      Here’s an idea that really helped me with teaching kiddos to go beyond a magic formula for understanding story problems.

      I love doing a think aloud on how to comprehend a story problem. I begin by finding a really hard piece of math text (something from a college math textbook is perfect – it has to be intimidating) and ask the students if they wouldn’t mind trading places with me for a minute. I challenge them to grade my reading. I read aloud the math paragraph (It’s important to have practiced this many times beforehand so you can read in flawlessly with expression and excitement.) and them ask them to give me a reading grade on how well I did.

      The kiddos mostly give me an A+ because I read the math beautifully. I then reveal that I don’t know anything I read. I just read it but didn’t really get anything out of it. I admit that I really just faked it. Then I ask, did any of you ever fake read through something and afterwards not know anything about what you read? Everyone admits to fake reading.

      I reveal there is something called fake math too. They look intrigued.

      I then pull up a grade level standardized prompt and tell students I am not going to fake it this time. I let them know that I am going to think aloud through the problem like a real mathematician. I then challenge them to discover what I do to get meaning from the math story and how it helped me make better sense of the problem.

      I begin my think aloud and very purposefully use good reading strategies to make sense of the problem. I reread, question, make connections, draw a visual, determine importance, etc. I don’t solve the problem. I just think aloud how to make meaning of the problem.

      Then I ask the kiddos to share in small groups what they noticed me doing to make sense of the problem. Presto! I write their ideas down and compare it to the reading strategies. They are amazed every time!

      They never quite realize they could use the same strategies across the board. Good thinking is good thinking. This is just one idea I wanted to share.

      Thanks for this entry, Donna! Love it!

      Reply
      • Newbie Coach

        Excellent suggestion! I’ll be trying that one next school year for sure!

        Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Your process is so close to my own, Margie! I love how you engage them, though, but showing that fluent reading is not necessarily reading for meaning. Thank you so much for sharing your insight!

      Reply
  6. Em Hutchison

    Thank you for your post. You are completely right. Teachers need to analyze what they are doing. We have made so many changes in the math room that I push in to. A lot of it is just needing good informations to do so. Your blog provides that springboard for me and we have made so many changes based on the information you have shared and resources you have pointed us to. I am so grateful. I will share this post with the rest of my school. Thank you once again.
    Em
    Curious firsties

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Thanks, Em! Learning never stops. As educators, we need to be constantly researching best practices and honing our craft.

      Reply
  7. LauraQ

    What about the students who “refuse to think” because it’s hard and nobody has ever made them? Call it a behavior issue or whatever you want, but they’ll wait you out and waste small group time (and whole group time, one on one time) because they dont have grade level skills or they simply don’t care. I agree that RTI is super valuable for the “just below the bar” kids who need a little extra help but THAT can more easily be adjusted in the classroom. What I need help with are the kids who don’t have grade level skills and /or struggle to learn for whatever reason and don’t qualify for special ed, or the lazy ones who refuse to work and think and will do nothing even when you give them 1:1 while the rest of the class gets nothing during independent prsctice. I was a little offended by your comments about tthe adjusting instruction and groups in,the classroom. As If I’m not already? What difference does it make who does the magic if the kid needs help? I see the role of the interventionist to help with kids who need it, no matter what the reason.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Laura, thank you for chiming in with your thoughts! I apologize if my comments offended you. I don’t know what grade you teach, but maybe the students who don’t work or think have not been properly taught what that looks and sounds like by previous teachers. The way we teach math has changed significantly, and continues to change. Students are not only expected to master computations, but also justify their thinking and explain their process verbally and in writing. Those are skills that need to be taught, right along with math skills. If you have students coming to you without those skills, it could look like laziness or work avoidance.

      If a student’s behavior over several years results in the student being significantly below grade level, then of course they should be in RTI. But if a student is just not completing assignments, but they are completely capable, then they would probably be more of a problem in a remediation class, due to boredom.

      This is a complex issue, Laura, and I appreciate your feedback!

      Reply
    • LauraQ

      I’m sorry if I sounded harsh with my comments. I teach 2nd grade in a very transient urban Title I school with a high ELL population. Roughly 50% of our classes are new students each year with a diverse set of skills, usually lacking. I agreed with most of what you said, but I was mostly taking exception to your comment that the teacher needs to reflect on her own instruction if children are lacking in gradelevel skills, rather than use the resources of an interventionist. We have an interventionist and I see that as a perfect solution for working with those new students on those skills that need to be taught in order for them to catch up and be successful with grade level concepts. I do see your point about behavior problems minimizing the effectiveness of the intervention, but they likewise do that in small group within the classroom. By removing them from the large group many times I find they are able to focus and be more attentive without the distractions of everything else that’s going on around them.
      I suspect that you were speaking more about the classroom teacher that is not differentiating, but merely teaching whole group and then complaining when some students don’t fit in the box. I guess I was just trying to present another perspective.

      Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      I did not find your comments harsh at all, Laura. I feel your frustration, and I’m sure it echos that of many classroom teachers. Part of the equation is the number of intervention teachers you have available to service your students. Often interventionists are in short supply and decisions need to be made as to which students will benefit the most.

      Reply
    • Crystal

      I caution all educators to avoid referring to students as lazy. I promise you there is a barrier and not just a child being “lazy”- could be past experiences, could be ADHD/working memory, could be confidence, could be they don’t know where to start. PLEASE don’t refer to your students as lazy. Work with the kiddo to identify the barrier(s). Language , even when sharing with other educators , matters and is a window into beliefs about students and learning.

      Reply
  8. Desirae Allen

    Thank you Donna! I am a math coach who does interventions with students as well. Can we add students who are chronically absent to the list of students we can’t help? That is, until attendance improves. I can’t teach kids who aren’t here!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Yes, Desirae, chronic absenteeism is a huge problem. Hard to learn if you’re not in class!

      Reply
  9. Tammy F

    Fabulous post!! I am an intervention teacher as well and believe I have two sets of students in my groups. Group 1 – students who lack place value understanding and number sense. Group 2- difficulties stem from behavior/attention issues or simply lack of exposure. Small group instruction and differentiation is the key to helping theses students in group 2. I realize this is a difficult task. I was a classroom teacher for many years and understand that and getting through the curriculum and preparing for state tests are a priority. That said, slowing down the curriculum, focusing on the math practices and modifying dry math problems and adding a context will pay off in the long run.

    PD is an integral component to developing classroom teachers’ knowledge of math, analyzing children’s work and modifying appropriately. Teaching a math program and thinking it is “one size fist all” is just as bad as using a basal reading program or expecting all students to read grade-level texts. BIG misconception!!! Readers grow at different speeds and require guided instruction. Way would our kiddos’ brains work different when learning math? Unfortunately math has been taught “whole class” for way too many years and it can be deceiving – if all students need to get the same answer to a problem, then it does feel like it is “one size fits all”. Maybe we need to change the problems and expect more than one answer! Making problems open ended, having kids work at their own pace so they can explore and make meaning of problems will allow for differentiation, conversation and deep understanding. …It makes sense to me.

    Thank you for all your posts, Donna.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      I so appreciate your thoughtful comment, Tammy! I think more and more classrooms are moving toward small group instruction for math–it’s just a huge paradigm shift for many teachers. Once a teacher teaches small group, though, they’ll never want to go back to whole group again! I agree that the logistics are often a barrier.

      Reply
  10. Lisa

    I would like to hear from those teachers that have taught Investigations and how it is working for them.

    Reply
  11. Karen Winford

    Questions: I’m a 2nd year teacher (2nd & 3rd grades). We’ve been using Saxon math, but might be looking at something different. Have you used Marilyn Burns’ Do the Math? I understand it’s supposed to be for intervention, but it also sounds like things that my students could all benefit from?
    Previous comment mentioned Investigations – is that a curriculum??
    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Karen, my district provided Do the Math for the interventionists, and it’s a great program. Definitely for intervention, but the activities could certainly be used by classroom teachers for first-line instruction. It’s an excellent resource!

      Reply
      • Karen Winford

        Thank you! I’ll keep that on my wish list. Also, do you know anything about the Investigations curriculum? I’m tempted to just work from your resources on TPT 🙂 but don’t feel there’s time to come up with a whole year of plans. I appreciate all your ideas and the resources you share. Games are such a great way to learn.

        Reply
        • Molly DiPirro

          Yes, Investigations is a classroom math program. My district uses it. I am a math coach and really love the program. It pushes students to “investigate” the math, work in partnerships and discuss various strategies. It also melds nicely with all the extras that are available- like Number Talks, bead strings, quick images and rekenreks.

          Reply
  12. Cindy

    Hi Donna, I have a concern about a student who was tested for sped but did not qualify and has been determined to be a “slow learner”. He is in the 4th grade and is so far behind in math, that the teacher doesn’t even know where to begin and neither do I. The teacher does small group math, but again he is farther behind that all of the other students. He really tries but it just does not click. My concern is that he is going to be one of those students who is falling between the cracks and will just continue to get pushed along without any foundation in math skills.. Any suggestions on where to begin? Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Cindy, do you have an RTI process in your school? It definitely sounds like he should be getting serviced by an interventionist if he is that far below level. Some fairly intensive intervention is going to be needed, I’m afraid, to help make grade-level material at all meaningful. In the meantime, make sure his teacher is using lots of concrete materials with him!

      Reply
  13. Kim

    Hi Donna,

    I recently found your site and am enjoying learning from it. This year our title 1 school is adding math interventions. We have on average 5-7 classes per grade level (K-5, over 700 students), except Kinder (only 2 half time programs). What I am wondering is what type of “building system” would you recommend to identify students that are in need of math intervention. We currently have STAR math, pre/post unit tests, quick quizzes, and some grade levels have exit slips after each lesson that could be used to determine with students would receive math.

    Another struggle I am having is that the students we are serving have huge gaps in their learning, especially as they get older. I feel in the primary grades I can stick with remediation because they haven’t advanced too far in however, in the intermediate grades, I see a need for remediation back to number sense, facts, etc but have progressed so far in the curriculum that they also need support of the grade level concepts. How do I divide my 30 minutes with them to work on remediation but also try to support their learning in the classroom or do I not support their learning in the classroom in order to focus in on filling in the gaps?

    Thanks for your time. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Kim, identifying kiddos for interventions is really tough, and I don’t think one size fits all. I think what is most important is to decide on what data you’re going to use and consistently use it. Then it becomes a combination of all of that data. Just low test scores might not get you in, but low indicators in multiple areas should. I would probably stick to the more significant grades, like the unit tests, rather than just the quizzes and exit slips. Teacher observation also plays a huge role, but teachers need to be specific. It’s not enough to just say a student is “low” or “struggles”, they need to give specific examples–“This third grade student has no understanding of tens and ones or how the place value system works.

      As for how to handle the larger gaps of the older students, I believe in meeting them where they are. If you don’t go back and address the underlying gaps, they will always be behind the curve, struggling to keep up. To me, that’s the difference in a Tier 2 kiddo and a Tier 3 kiddos in RTI. Tier 2 kiddos can often be supported with classroom concepts through scaffolding. Tier 3 kiddos have huge gaps.

      Reply
  14. Stephanie Cox

    Hi, Donna,
    I am a new Math RTI Interventionist for a school that has a new RTI Specialist every year in the last three years since they started their RTI program. There isn’t really any good foundation to go off of or any previous successes to know what has worked or hasn’t worked. I have a program that I test and progress monitor the K-3 grade students but there is nothing in place for the 4th and 5th grade students. I have no way of testing to see where their weak areas are or strengths except to give assessments myself and I have pulled from previous C-scope test and TPT for assessments for 4th and 5th grade but I just feel like I am spinning my wheels. These kids have huge gaps and need some foundational math concepts but I just don’t know where to begin with them. Can you recommend any programs for the 4th and 5th grade to diagnose and progress monitor them? Can you give me some idea of where to begin and how to make this RTI program successful because what they have been doing especially for the 4th and 5th has not been workng. Please advise with some ideas of what I need to be doing and implementing as well as any programs you recommend.

    Thank you so much for your help!
    – Stephanie

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      I understand your frustration, Stephanie. Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic bullet. While they don’t have any assessments, Lead4Ward has wonderful free resources aligned to the TEKS. For example, you can use their scaffolding documents to track 4th and 5th grade readiness standards back to foundational skills in prior grades. That will help you determine what skills you can work on to support the work they are doing in their classrooms. Hope that helps some!

      Reply
  15. solis1

    Is there a preferred method on the order fractions should be taught? Besides beginning with the understanding of the denominator lesson which I love… what should be taught next?

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      The progression is usually laid out in whatever standards you are using (Common Core, Texas TEKS, etc.), but generally the first understanding is that that the parts need to be equal (1st and 2nd grade). Next, understanding that the more parts an object is divided into, the smaller the parts and the number of parts to make a whole (2nd grade), followed by equivalent fractions (3rd grade), adding and subtracting with like denominators (4th) and unlike denominators (5th), and finally multiplying and dividing with decimals (5th).

      Reply
  16. Jamie

    I have a question from a mother’s stand point. My daughter is in 5th grade. She struggles with comprension in math mainly however, she struggles with all subjucts. I made a request to hold her back, and was told that simply wasn’t my call. With 15 days left of her final primary education year which in my opinion are supposed to be the foundation of her castle. The starter pack toward success. I’m told she suffers from number sense issues. A term I had to Google. I have been familiarizing myself with the term mind you 15 days left of this school year, and I receive this news from her math teacher (whom was also her 4th grade math teacher) I made the phone call I had to request communication. I expressed as parents we needed to know how our child can maintain a B average in a subject she simply can’t do and I find out why. My child is beyond behind and headed into 6th grade. She has no confidence, second guesses every answer and openly admitted to her father that she sometimes copies. CHEATS! She is taking all the joy and validation that comes from hard work and dedication away from herself. I asked said math teacher if she felt repeating 5th grade would be beneficial to our daughter and she responds. “Ummmm, well, its hard to say BC of the number sense issue.” ” its possible she would repeat and still struggle. ” She and I then attempted to figure out how a child Our child, the child we watch struggle but make an effort while at home ultimately ending in her nothing but tears and daddy trying to help BC alone she can’t work out a simple equation has a B on her mid term. Conclusion is good faith effort homework worth 100 pts and graded by the child (my child grades her own homework). The teacher made the decision while on the phone with me to remove all “good faith effort grades.” Not per my request, She then calculated the remaining test/ quiz scores and my child is left with a D and her response is ” she didn’t cheat to well either.” I feel helpless, hopeless and in desperate need for guidance. I have pleaded my case for my child to to be retained prior to this new and overwhelming information. That validates our concerns. As parents do we not have any choice in our child’s education?
    Again, not a teacher. I am a Mother seeking advice.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      First, let me say how sorry I am that you and your child are experiencing this. If you have not already done so, I would suggest you speak to the school principal about your concerns–especially the discrepancy between your daughter’s grades with and without the homework component. It’s so important that grades accurately reflect a student’s mastery of grade level skills. I can’t really advise whether or not retention is the best route, because there are so many factors involved. Retention has social implications as well as academic, especially at that age. Assuming she moves on, I wonder if you could get information from the middle school she would be attending about math support she might receive in 6th grade. Many schools have a Response to Intervention (RTI) process to support struggling students. For example, she might be able to get a second period of math each day. Another option is summer school, if the district or school provides it. If none of those options is available, you might consider a private or group tutor, although obviously that is an expensive option. There are also many online math programs that allow students to practice math skills on the computer and progress at their own speed. Finally, it is so difficult, as a mother, to see your child struggle and in pain. Your daughter’s self-esteem is obviously fragile at this point, so keep reminding her that she CAN learn and that you will do everything you can to help her. Stay positive and be her biggest cheerleader!

      Reply
  17. Donna

    I have been asked to create a course for high school students who have not yet mastered elementary math skills, particularly operations with whole numbers and fractions. There are several CCSS from which to choose and several sequences in which to teach them. Do you have any guidance on how to proceed?

    Also, do you have any resources where I can find meaningful tasks for this age group? I feel counting kitty paws and bunny ears may give them a path to the correct skills, however I don’t think it honors their age level.

    I would be grateful for any comments you may have.

    Reply
  18. Cheryl

    Thank you for this wonderful post and all of your fantastic products. I have been a fan of yours for awhile now and I am happy to report that my district is adopting RTI for Mathematics next year! I am very curious about your schedule – do you pull out, push in, or do a combination of both? Is there a difference in the amount of services you give to Tier 2 and Tier 3 students? If you pull out, what are the teachers doing at that time? I would appreciate any insight you are willing to provide. I’m just trying to wrap my head around where to begin next year schedule wise!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Our school has something called Extended Learning Time built into the schedule for each grade level. It ranges from 30 minutes for the younger kiddos to 45 minutes for the older students. During that time, the interventionists pull the RTI students, while the classroom teachers differentiate learning for their students. For example, a classroom teacher might pull a group of students who are taking a little longer to grasp a current skill or have students working on a task for a challenge. Given this schedule, I mainly pull out. We do not currently provide additional services to Tier 3 students (although I wish that we did…), but we do group the kiddos so Tier 2s are together with Tier 2s and 3s with 3s. That allows the interventionists to differentiate the remediation. Good luck with your implementation next year!

      Reply
      • Cheryl

        Thank you so much for that information! I appreciate it!

        Reply
  19. Luc Miron

    Hi Donna,

    I enjoyed reading your post and follow up comments. Great stuff! I’m somewhat new to the world of math interventions. Our district hired many math interventionist 1 1/2 years ago. Simply put, it’s been a struggle to streamline the process and develop consistencies within the school that I’m a part of. Many of my colleagues in the same role have approached math differentiation differently. Some pull out. Some push in. Some pick up just Tier 3. Some dabble in Tier 2 and 3. The part that spoke to me the most in your post is the decision-making that should go into who sees the interventionist and who doesn’t. I like how you suggested that teachers should first consider (maybe they should go as far as documenting) what differentiation they’ve provided prior to requesting interventions. I’m with you: give me your lowest of low, that are showing the willingness to learn, as teachers are not well positioned to take on the lowest of low in their classrooms. In short, a teacher’s knowledge of their grade level content should extend far enough forward and backward to address Tier 2 interventions. I think that in my setting we need to tightened the teachers’ understanding of my role in order to avoid having me try to take on both Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions, simultaneously. Sorry, I know my response is all over the place but I just wanted to share my quick thoughts. I’ll be sharing your blog with my fellow interventionists tonight.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Thank you for your thoughtful response! I think you’re right that it’s important for everyone to be on the same page. I definitely recommend documentation of what has been tried in the classroom.

      Reply
  20. claire wasser

    Hi,
    I appreciate your work and your blog. I wanted to ask you what you thought about teaching multiplication of fractions to remedial students at community college. I did not immediately introduce cross cancelling when introducing the concept and skill. I thought it would be helpful if they learn the step and see how reducing creates equivalent fractions first. What would be your opinion about that?

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      I would recommend using pictorial models if at all possible. It will give meaning to whatever algorithms they learn.

      Reply
  21. Crystal

    Anyone have experience with Illustrative Math/Learn Zillions? Our large district adopted it and it is a 60 minute whole group lesson with a lot of hands on and open ended problem solving which is Great! But… I’m used to a workshop approach with small group differentiation because of the lagging skills of groups like you just addressed! I don’t know how to work on intervention with this new curriculum. Anyone have experience with IM or advice for me? After the last year and 1/3 being remote learning- there will be more that need intervention and I’m worried I won’t be able to navigate the needs if I teach IM with fidelity!

    Reply

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