Students struggling with concepts in the classroom need extra attention to help them catch up. Math intervention strategies can be easily implemented in small groups throughout the week to help students right where they are.
How to Help Your Students with Math Intervention Strategies
We have all had students who aren’t grasping the math concepts being taught. These students need extra guidance to understand the topics at hand. Math interventions will help students catch up to their peers and understand the skills being taught.
Here are some strategies to implement in the classroom to help students.
What is Math Intervention?
Think about math intervention as a way to help students who are behind in the skills being taught in the classroom. They are targeted strategies implemented by the teacher to help students get the support they need to understand the material being taught at grade level.
When to Implement Math Intervention Strategies?
Math strategies should be implemented when students are struggling with a topic. The earlier you help them with a skill, the quicker you can get them on track.
Who Needs Math Intervention?
Math intervention can be used with any student, but often they are implemented for students who are one or more grade levels behind in a math topic.
Math Intervention Tiers
Regarding math intervention, there are three tiers in which teachers break down their instruction. Tier 1 means that students are 80% or more efficient in their math skills at the grade level. A tier 2 intervention is reteaching the current grade level strategies to help the student not fall behind. Finally, tier 3 refers to interventions given to students still working on previous grade-level material.
All intervention tiers should provide students additional time to work on their skills. These should not be whole group instruction times but rather small group periods throughout the day and week.
Math Intervention Strategies for Struggling Students
So what does math intervention look like in action? There are many ways to help your students; here are just a few examples that work well with younger students.
1 – Using Hands-On Methods and Materials
Using hands-on materials is a great way to immerse students in the skills they need to learn. Math manipulatives are fantastic tools to have in the classroom. Cubes, laminated tens frames, 3D shapes, linking chains, and tons of other small tools help students conceptualize the skills they are working on. Using counters and tangible items has been proven to help students while they learn new math skills.
Visual models, such as “I Can” Posters, are an excellent way for students to see and internalize what they are working on. Try Kindergarten, First Grade, or Second Grade “I Can” Posters as helpful tools and simple statements for students.
2 – Differentiation
Differentiating the material to meet the needs of each student is also essential. Differentiating the skill may involve meeting with some students more than others, or it might look like completely changing up an activity to meet students where they are.
Let’s say you are working on addition with students. Some groups may be able to do two numeral addition, while others are still working on adding numbers one through ten. Differentiating involves analyzing the students’ needs and helping them master their lowest skill level before moving on.
While you can plan some activities for several students, some may need more scaffolding or support. Pay attention to these details as you work with tier 2 and 3 groups. Listen to their needs and build up from there. They’ll catch up in no time.
3 – Math Warm-Ups
Use Math warm-up activities with all students, especially your tiered students. Math warm-ups allow students to work on skills in an open-ended format. Introduce skills slowly and then make them more challenging, allowing students to work through them without feeling overwhelmed.
The consistent format helps them understand the instructions without getting frustrated. Giving them open-ended activities to anticipate each day will help them build confidence, gain extra practice, and stay on track instead of falling further behind.
Try Math Warm-Ups for 1st Grade and Math Warm-Ups for 2nd Grade. Use them as morning work or to warm up their brains before a new math lesson.
4 – Open-Ended Math Activities
Open-ended math activities are activities that allow students to experiment with how they get an answer. While you will be teaching certain strategies, all students reach the answer in a different way. Math centers and other open-ended math activities allow kids to get creative and learn through their experiences.
Open-ended math activities are also beneficial because they allow students to come up with their answers in their way. Sure, you’ve taught specific strategies, which should be reflected in their work, but some students reach their solutions in unique ways. As long as they can explain their work, these should be encouraged.
5 – Small Group Instruction
Take advantage of small group instruction. Use whole group lessons to teach the primary skill, but use small groups to get down to the nitty-gritty. Pay attention to the information students hold onto and where they need more assistance.
Each small group session might include a warm-up or review, followed by a main activity and then a quick assessment or exit ticket. The ideal use of this time is to focus on one skill and help kids build on that skill without getting overwhelmed.
The group they are working with is on the same level as them, so they all have a common understanding of the task at hand. So placing the tier 2 kids together is important for targeted math intervention, while tier 3 kids may need extra pull-out support during this time.
6 – Exit Tickets & Quick Assessments
Utilize exit tickets or quick assessments that check for understanding. Exit tickets are simple ways of seeing which students grasp a concept and which need more guidance.
One of the simplest ways to provide students with an exit ticket is to write an equation (or skill) on the board and give them each a sticky note. In order to leave the classroom for lunch or recess or to move on to the next activity, they must present their answer on a sticky note.
This will help teachers and students see where help is needed, and it will help you plan your interventions and small group activities. Exit tickets and quick assessments are great tools to keep everyone on track.
Math Intervention Routine
As you implement your math intervention routine, take it slow. If you speed through the process, kids won’t catch on, and you’ll quickly find yourself back at square one. Instead, start slow and use repetitive activities and terminology. It may seem “elementary,” but we are teaching primary, after all!
The repetition will help students digest the information, even if they seem bored. Watch for mastery as they learn the concept; you’ll know when to bump them to the next skill.
Staying on the topic of consistency, plan your intervention times accordingly. Pick a time you can stick to each week so students get the help they need.
How to Use Mindful Math for Intervention
The Mindful Math Curriculum is a fantastic math program with many tools, materials, and resources that are useful for whole class instruction, small groups, and math intervention. The curriculum includes warm-ups, ideas for whole group counting and ways to build number sense, using manipulatives and models to build understanding, assessment quick checks, ideas for small group instruction, and activities to create awareness.
While you might use these resources for small or whole-group instruction, all materials can easily be used for intervention groups by just tweaking things here and there. For example, instead of working with partners, use the games to work one-on-one with students. Instead of completing an activity once, have the students complete it three times for repetition. You might also have students use multiple strategies to build numbers or to reach an answer so they conceptualize the skill.
Learn more about the Mindful Math curriculum and how it can help you!
Resources for Math Interventions
Try these Math Products by Proud to be Primary to support your math intervention efforts seamlessly. There are tons to choose from!
Mindful Math Curriculum contains everything you need to teach each math subject throughout the year. There are ten units for each grade level. The materials are perfect for tier 1 and tier 2, and 3 students who need extra practice.
“I Can” Posters are a fantastic way to help students visualize and conceptualize what they are working on mastering. Use these in your intervention groups to show them what they are working on.
- Math “I Can” Posters for Kindergarten
- Math “I Can” Posters for First Grade
- Math “I Can” Posters for Second Grade
Warm-Up Task Cards have 90+ different tasks and activities to help students master math skills. The cards can be used in centers or small groups to help students build their confidence.
- Kindergarten Math Warm-Up Task Cards
- First-Grade Math Warm-Up Task Cards
- Second-Grade Math Warm-Up Task Cards
Try Free Math Assessment Quick Checks
Try the Quick Checks in your classroom with this FREE resource! Use these assessment tasks as an intervention tool to see where your students are at and what they need more review on.
Click the image below to grab a copy.
More Math Intervention Ideas for Students
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I just finished reading your article on math intervention strategies, and it’s incredibly informative. The strategies you provided for supporting struggling math students are practical and effective. It’s inspiring to see how targeted interventions can make a significant difference in students’ understanding and confidence. Thank you for sharing these valuable resources and empowering educators to help all students succeed in math. Well done!