A Powerful Tool to Support Math Intervention

Strategies for Mathematics Instruction and Intervention Grades 6-8
By Chris Weber, Darlene Crane and Tom Hierck
(Solution Tree Press, 2015 – Learn more)

schneider-kim2Reviewed by Kim Schneider

This book is proving to be a very valuable resource to me as I plan for inservice activities, instruction, and intervention lessons for middle school students and staff. Page 1 offers a very useful definition of RTI along with a bullet point list of the critical components of an effective RTI system.

strategies-for-math-instruction-schneiderPage 4 has a chart that pulls together interdisciplinary themes with descriptions and the mathematics connection. I used this chart to help organize some staff development that accompanied a panel of HR and higher ed speakers to “show” how math and critical thinking are essential skills for career and college readiness.

Working with priority or power standards

If your team, district or system has worked with priority or power standards, Chapter 1 will provide great validation of your process. If you have not ventured into that process, Chapter 1 will give you an outline of how it works and what all teachers love: examples of priority standards unwrapped into learning targets. “Show me what you mean” material is  always a hit with teachers and leaders.

Chapter 3 is a great overview of how instruction in math needs to align to the Standards for Mathematical Practice. There are example problems, suggested teaching topics and activities, and a lot of valuable graphics and charts to help with student reflection for learning. This chapter will validate those teachers moving to workshop models and will also be a “nudge” to more traditional classroom teachers as they review models that can spark some deeper thinking and connections.

A portrait of classroom action steps

What is especially helpful (and well-suited to meshing with resources from Jo Boaler at You Cubed) is the section on the Four Phases of Application-Based Mathematics. It has a clear, detailed and realistic capture of a math class that addresses student needs and clearly delineates that math is a thinking endeavor. For without strong Tier 1 instruction, is our work in Tier 2 and Tier 3 truly accurate?

This portrait of classroom action steps and thinking is a great “must read” section for math teachers, for principals doing observations, and for instructional coaches supporting the movement to application-based or (as some people might call it) engaging, non-flat math instruction.

As an interventionist , I am always digging and searching for how student brains are working. Chapter 4 provides a great overview of Tier 2 and some specific examples on analyzing student learning and thinking. The model of the assessment and decision “rule” for planning is quick, easy to use or adapt, and makes sense.

Talking to staff and parents about student needs

If you are working with students who are in Tier 3 and show definite struggles in math, p. 105 has a chart of the Key Concepts of number sense. This chart is a strong option for talking to staff and parents about a student’s needs.

This book provides many charts, examples and resources that could be instantly adopted, adapted, or enhanced for a school or district RTI process in middle school math. The book is easy to read, and mine is now full of annotations and notes to take action.

A math team, a Title 1 team, or even a math and science team could surely benefit from using this book as a book study option. Make sure to get each person a copy, as this is a “keeper” resource that begs to be annotated, with triangled pages and color highlighter.

Kim Schneider serves as the 6-12 interventionist, instructional coach, and district assessment and curriculum coordinator for the Markesan District Schools in Wisconsin. She has taught many grades and served in district leadership roles during her twenty-seven year career in education. Kim is often called the “data geek” and is a passionate learner and reader about all we can do to serve and give every student the BEST education. When not digging into educational issues, Kim is cheering on the Green Bay Packers, taking walks, or baking and cooking.


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