## Introduction to Math Intervention

Identifying the right math interventions for a classroom isn’t an exact science. Certainly, evidence-based math strategies should be the priority, but it can be just as important to identify math remediation tools that fit the unique needs of a classroom.

Math interventions should be accessible to both students AND teachers.

They should be easy to implement for educators and engaging to students, with built-in methods to build student autonomy and monitor progress along the way. In order to get there and create an environment of long-term math growth, we need to start at the beginning.

## What Does Math Intervention Look Like?

Math intervention typically involves targeted support for students struggling with mathematical concepts. It may include small-group instruction, one-on-one tutoring, or specialized programs tailored to individual needs. Interventions often focus on identifying and addressing specific areas of difficulty like number sense, problem-solving skills, or basic operations.

## What Does Successful Math Intervention Look Like?

All good math intervention should start with diagnostic assessments to pinpoint areas of need, but long-term success in an effective math classroom requires continued progress monitoring. Adjustments should be made as students make progress and additional gaps are identified.

Successful math intervention is also individualized. Teachers know their students best. When unique learning styles and student interests are considered, interventions are more engaging and, as a result, students are more engaged. A more engaged classroom means more potential growth in math.

## Identifying Students for Math Intervention Programs

Identifying students for math intervention programs is multifaceted. Diagnostics using standardized tests, formative assessments, and informal tools (e.g. exit tickets, student journals, and classroom polls) offer a reasonable start for pinpointing areas of need. Observations of student performance one-on-one and in a group setting can provide valuable insights.

From there, data analysis is key, especially in the current climate. Students are making gains in pockets across the country, but those gains may be inconsistent. Basic skills may be improving, but students are still facing difficulty engaging with math on a more meaningful level.

If students are growing, what’s working? If they’re stagnating, what’s missing? Data allows educators to identify patterns and trends in student performance.

The best intervention programs include robust assessment options that give teachers the valuable information they need to determine next best steps for their students.

Collaboration between teachers and support staff can result in even more insight, especially if social-emotional concerns are at play. Ultimately, a comprehensive understanding of students' strengths and needs should guide how we approach math interventions.

## Engaging Instructional Strategies for Math

Engaging instructional strategies aren’t just important to math interventions. They should be best-practice in the classroom for all students. Many activities can be tweaked to incorporate a more interactive math experience for students. Here are some ideas for presenting math in a more engaging way to help spark an interest in the content area for students.

### Hands-On Activities

Hands-on activities and math manipulatives allow students to explore math concepts more concretely. Seeing, touching, and feeling math supports comprehension and retention of concepts that may seem more abstract at first.

This is also the first stage of the Concrete, Representational, Abstract (CRA) model of math instruction. The concrete stage is the introductory stage, where students interact with concepts for the first time using visual tools and physical manipulatives to build a foundation. From there, students are better able to grasp more symbolic, abstract representations of concepts.

Programs like STEMscopes Math embrace the CRA approach to encourage critical thinking, reflection, and exploration throughout the curriculum.

### Math Word Walls

Simple visuals like word walls help students learn the language of math. Learning important math vocabulary isn’t just important to boosting math test scores. It empowers students to talk about math in a deeper way, and helping students sound like mathematicians helps them feel like mathematicians.

### Student-Led Learning

Teaching approaches like project-based learning (PBL) and inquiry-based learning flip the switch on traditional math instruction. It’s a way to approach math from an open-ended question vs. a one-path solution that opens the door for collaboration, productive struggle, and a deeper level of engagement.

Interventions that allow students to monitor their own progress and provide self-reflective feedback are also possible. It just means the teacher may need to give students some leeway in allowing that level of autonomy to happen. Student who feel more ownership over their learning are better able to develop skills like perseverance.

### Collaborative Learning

Small group activities or peer tutoring promote communication and teamwork, two key 21st century skills, while reinforcing mathematical skills through a more engaged discourse. This is a key component of PBL, as well. Again, students want to feel a sense of ownership over their learning. Allowing them to work together to solve given problems — or, better yet, problems they’ve come with — is highly engaging.

### Interactive Technology

Educational apps, interactive whiteboards, game-based learning, and responsive online platforms provide engaging experiences for students at all levels in math. The best technologies out there are standards-based tools that make an educator’s job more informed, not harder.

Individualized assessments in tools like Math Nation, a dynamic online resource for middle and high school students, take some of the guesswork out of keeping track of student progress.

## How to Maintain Momentum for Students

One of the biggest challenges of teaching math is the perception attached to what it means to be good at math. A student’s fact fluency is only one aspect of how strong their skills are in math. Students’ processing speeds vary, and the amount of time a student takes to complete a problem doesn’t always relate to their ability to master that concept.

Students should be exposed to material and concepts that align with 21st-century skills. Math should be relatable and accessible in a more meaningful way. Worksheets and whole-group lectures aren’t going to work for students already struggling with math.

Engaging math is a more inquiry-based approach that creates a connection between what students are learning and what they see happening in the world around them. Students will be more invested in their learning if they see how math can be used in real-life applications.

One way to get students invested is by making math more interactive. Hands-on, interactive activities allow students to contribute in different ways, apply knowledge and skills, and engage with math across learning styles.

## How to Maintain Momentum for Teachers

Engaging your students is rewarding, and certainly something all teachers should strive for when identifying the right interventions for their classroom. In an environment where teachers already feel the weight of reaching all of their students in a meaningful way, that can feel easier said than done.

Teachers need support in addressing persistent challenges, but may feel overwhelmed with the options. In order for math interventions to make sense long-term, the teacher buy-in piece is critical. Evidence-based initiatives are essential, but educators also need to hear from other educators that these initiatives work in a practical sense.

Interventions need to be easy to implement, without a steep learning curve to put into place. Progress monitoring should feel meaningful. Teachers don’t like busy work any more than students do. Teacher learning opportunities should be a part of any new math intervention program, but those opportunities should feel like support, not homework.

## The Future of Math Intervention

We’re never going to back away from curriculums that are aligned to state standards. This piece is important in order to offer a framework for all schools to follow as they work to bring all students up to grade-level expectations.

How we get there in identifying the “right” math intervention program is the big question.

Here are a few more questions to ask before introducing that new intervention strategy:

- Is this program aligned with our school, district, and statewide goals in math?
- Is this program adaptive for all students, including those who make gains or face challenges?
- Does this program align with essential 21st century skills?
- Does this program offer professional learning for teachers to help educators feel supported rather than burdened?
- Will this program engage students in a way that means more meaningful interaction with math concepts?

At Accelerate Learning, it's our mission to provide effective digital STEM resources that empower teachers and enable students to develop problem-solving, innovation, and critical thinking skills.

Our math solutions, STEMscopes Math and Math Nation, offer a research-based approach to support students in improving their literacy and competency in math. This means increased student engagement, higher teacher satisfaction, and better test scores.