Effective Math Instruction  

November 17, 2014

It is the time of year when fall assessments have been completed and first quarter grades are in. As data is gathered on current math instruction in all grades, we begin to form the current math instruction by asking the following problem solving questions.
•  What does instruction look like?
•  What materials are being used?
•  What are the strengths and weaknesses in instructional delivery/management, etc.?
•  What do we have in place to support the needs of the students not meeting benchmark and/or those showing difficulties in mathematics?
•  What do our decision rules say about when we need to begin problem solving at the individual level for those students that score at risk for potential mathematics difficulties based on screeners and outcome measures data? As a part of problem solving, should a plan be developed and interventions provided that align to the student’s skill deficit? 

Though math learning follows a certain progression, it is not a purely linear process, but is recursive, with children needing to rediscover and refine “old” concepts and skills as they build “new” ones. Also, as with all learning, the development of math skills is unique to each child.
-- Early Childhood Today

Guiding Principles for Effective Math Instruction

It is important to follow these guiding principles for effective math instruction: 
•  A belief that all students can learn math is established, in contradiction to the belief that not everyone is mathematically inclined, thus creating a paradigm shift in how we think about student failure in math.
•  A curriculum is more than a collection of activities; it is coherent, focused on important mathematics, and well-articulated across the grades.
•  Learning mathematics with understanding is essential. Students need to learn mathematics with understanding, actively building new knowledge from experience and prior knowledge.
•  The curriculum ensures that problem solving, reasoning, connections, communication, and conceptual understanding are all developed simultaneously along with procedural fluency.
•  The curriculum includes the following key mathematical domains: Whole Numbers (Kindergarten through grade 5); Rational Numbers (grades 4 through 8); and Operations with Procedural Fluency, Geometry and Measurement, Algebra, and Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability (Kindergarten through grade 12).

Best Practices for Effective Math Instruction

The problem solving practice is guided by the use of best practices. (See the Problem Solving Guidebook:  Effective Math Instruction at http://www.esu10.org/file_uploads/SPED%20-%20RTI/Problem%20Solving%20Guidebook%2020140908.pdf, pp. 19-20).

Less is known about effective math instruction than about effective reading instruction because research is limited in the area of math; there are about 15 studies in reading to every 1 in math. However, conclusions still can be drawn from some good studies, as well as from typical grade level expectations in math.  Just like in reading, there is no single “best” program for teaching mathematics. There are a number of programs that are available for extra practice. Listed below are a few educational links that teachers or parents might use to provide extra math practice for students:

www.aaamath.com  *Hundreds of pages of Basic Math Skills. *Interactive Practice on every page. *An Explanation of the math topic on each page. *Several Challenge Games on every page. *Math Problems are randomly created.

www.mathforum.com  Go to section on Math Tools and then section at left “Math Topics”.  This is a website that provides many teacher made lesson activities for all math topics and grade levels.

www.aplusmath.com  Website with on-line and printable flashcards, math games, printable worksheets and homework helper for all math topics.

http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/vlibrary.html  National Library of Virtual Math Manipulatives: On-line activities using math manipulatives related to math standards.

www.flashcardsonline.com  Flashcards Online

www.multiplication.com  Websites for math worksheets, etc.

www.math.com Math resource

http://mathforum.org/mathtools/index.html  Math lessons and games K-12


Nebraska RTI Implementation Support Team http://rtinebraska.unl.edu/
IES Practice Guide: Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for Elementary and Middle Schools – US Dept. of Education

-by Ronda Hunt, ESU 10 School Psychologist