How to Close Math Gaps And STOP New Gaps from Forming

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So you have a student (or two, or three) who have math gaps in skills from previous grade levels. It can be overwhelming to consider that you need to teach a full year of math content to your class in addition to gap-filling for your most struggling learners.

A few simple steps can move you and your class in the right direction!

Prioritize Math Intervention Groups

Whether you are in a gen. ed. classroom, a special ed setting or whether you are in interventionist yourself, you must prioritize time for small group math intervention.

In reading, you wouldn’t dream of teaching your students to read without meeting in small groups at their own levels- but in math this happens all the time!

While it seems daunting to carve time out of your schedule for math intervention, it is the truest path to success for each of your students.

Focus on The Right Skills

When you are setting goals for your math intervention groups, be sure you are spending the majority of your time on understanding numbers and the meaning of operations.

Given a student with math needs, look at their place value understanding and ask yourself what they know and are able to do. Use your math standards as a continuum and guide to trace your student’s level of understanding and next steps.

For example, you have a 2nd grade student. You look at the standards and recognize that your student isn’t understanding numbers up to 1,000. Move backward. First grade standards talk about understanding 2-digit numbers. Is your student there yet? If not, move backward again. Does your student understand that teen numbers are made of a ten and some ones? Yes? Great! Now you know where to start. You know that your student has a late kindergarten, early 1st grade level of understanding and you might start exploring numbers to 50 with linking cubes.

Think CRA To Close Math Gaps

Once you know which skill you want to target with your student or group of students, plan an intervention sequence that “Thinks CRA” and moves from concrete -> representational -> abstract. This means you are starting with hands-on tools, moving to representational models and using those scaffolds to promote understanding at an abstract (numbers and words) level.

As an aside, Math Intervention Uncomplicated, my 4-week course on building math intervention plans and lessons opens in just a few weeks. We will focus on “thinking CRA” to develop lesson sequences that work for students. Click here to join the waitlist!

Consistently Assess Along the Way

Your students may show success when they are sitting with you at the intervention table but you want to be sure that their understanding and skills are at the independent level. Independent level understanding is what will elevate your students from needing math intervention to accessing grade-level instruction within the classroom.

When assessing your students, be sure your assessment is consistent with the expectation of your lessons. If you used a hands-on material during the lesson, allow your students to use that same material as you assess their current level of understanding.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with the big picture in terms of your students’ wide range of needs. Prioritize math intervention time, choose one skill to focus on, systematically close the gap in that skill by “thinking CRA” and consistently assess so that you can move onto new skills as your students are ready.

If you’re ready to do some long-term math intervention planning, I have a free guide that will get you started! Sign up below and it will be sent directly to your inbox.

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