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All About 5 Day Focus Math Intervention Curriculum

As a new math interventionist, I was given no real direction other than Here’s a few grade levels of kids. Find the tier 3 kids, put them in groups and improve their math. Thanks! 

Been there? Sound familiar?

In looking for resources, I found highly restrictive intervention curriculums that wanted me to follow a day by day, jam-packed schedule. Today you will work on decomposing the number 6. Tomorrow, your students will decompose the number 7! 

But what if my students weren’t ready to move on? The curriculum was so packed in that there was no room to catch-up if my students didn’t master a concept in a day. What could I skip? What was essential? There was no way to know.

At the other end of the spectrum were these vague math practices. Work on their number sense! Do number talks! Students need to discover their understanding of math! 

Ok, great… but what will they know and be able to do at the end of this week that they didn’t know last week? How will I know if we are closing the gap between where they are and their grade level expectations?

I was not finding a solution that would work for my students and their goals long term. I spent time poring over math textbooks studying best practices and in landing on Van De Walle’s book “Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics” everything became very clear.

Why Did I Write the 5 Day Focus Math Intervention Curriculum? 

I never set out to write a curriculum. I set out to write a unit for myself about finding 10 more and 10 less than a given 2-digit number.

I knew that I wanted a unit that had a thoughtful targeted teaching sequence that used the principles of the CRA progression to drive my students from where they were to where they needed to go.

I knew I wanted a unit that had a finite start and finish. I didn’t want to spin my wheels “exploring 10 more and 10 less” for some undetermined amount of time. I needed time to teach the concept well, to be responsive to my students and I needed my students to master the concept at the independent level.

I knew I wanted a unit that had assessment built-in. I already knew what I needed my students to know and be able to do at the end of the unit so I needed to build the assessment as well as my progress monitoring before I began instruction so I could always have our end goals in mind.

And last, but most important of all, I knew I wanted my students to be independent at the end of the unit. I couldn’t have a scenario where they were solid in the intervention space… but not carrying the skills over to their classroom. So I knew independent practice needed to be a BIG portion of our work.

After writing and using that unit with my students, I was so thrilled with the results. Every one of my tier 3 students was incredibly successful in this skill. I had my yearly observation during this unit and my administrator (a former math interventionist herself) was astounded with the confidence, skills, and math language being demonstrated by my tier 3 students.

I had to write more units.

What Is Included In the 5 Day Focus Math Intervention Curriculum 

Each grade level includes 14 units.

Each unit includes:

  • A pre and post-assessment
  • 5 detailed lessons that will walk you and your students through the CRA progression (concrete, representational, abstract) on the targeted unit skill. 
  • Daily independent practice activities 
  • Daily exit tickets on days 1-4 so you can monitor your students’ progress on their way to a new skill. 
    The lessons and activities encourage opportunities for students to problems solve, talk and explain their thinking, use math language, use math tools, connect to prior learning and ultimately develop confidence in their new skills.  

    How Is This Different Than A Big Box Math Intervention Curriculum? 

    14 units x 5 lessons each = 70 days of math instruction…. that doesn’t add up to a full year, so what gives?

    The purpose of this curriculum is to give you everything you need to teach 14 of the most core skills that your intervention students need to master in order to be successful in the next grade level.

    In order to be responsive to your students and their needs and in order to give your students time to practice and become independent time has been built in so that you can spread the 5 days of instruction out over the course of two weeks.

    You will use your pre-assessment data along with your daily exit tickets to determine when your group is ready to move on and when you need to pause.

    Your data will tell you who is ready to drop hands-on materials or math drawings and who still needs that scaffold.

    The independent practice activities have been designed to be used again and again so that the students who need repeated practice have the time. space, and materials to get the practice they need.

    At all times, you will know where your instruction is going and why you are moving in that direction. You will know your students and their math understanding better than you ever have before and you will have the tools and data to move them along with confidence.

    Anything Else I Need To Know? 

    A quick story. In the early days of my career as a math interventionist, I was down in the office getting my mail. I was making small talk with a teacher who was new to my school but who was a veteran in the district. He had previously been a math interventionist but had decided to move back into the classroom. 
    He asked me how I was liking the new position so far and I probably gave some vague response about how it was different but I was loving it. 
    And then he shared with me the reason he decided to go back into the classroom. 
    He said that he wasn’t fulfilled as a math interventionist because he felt he was stuck in the mud. Every year students would be identified for tier 3 and he would work with them. Throughout the year they would work hard, learn and make progress. The next year time would come to make math intervention groups and those same students would bubble up to the surface. They were still at the “bottom” of their grade level. What was the point? What had he done for the previous year if those students were right back at square one in their new grade? 
    And that’s when I made a decision. Right then and there. I would know I was successful as a math interventionist if my kids never came back. If I was making groupings the next fall and didn’t get to see my kids again, I would know I was successful. If I looked at the table of the math interventionist meeting with the older students and I didn’t know any of them, I would know I was successful. I would not allow myself or my students to get stuck in the mud. 
    By following my 5 Day Focus system, by targeting the most critical skills, by encouraging math talk, by assessing and using that data to give my students exactly the time they needed, by making sure that my students were independent and confident in each of these math skills, I can say that I met that goal. 

    I would look over to my colleague’s math groups daily and the vast majority of her kids were students that I didn’t know. The kids weren’t running over at the end of their groups for hugs… they didn’t know me! An overwhelming majority of my kids were back in their classrooms doing grade-level work because we had succeeded. 

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