Thursday, August 29, 2019

Creating An Intervention Course - The Origin Story

I don't blog as often as I'd like, but when I do I love how it helps me process and reflect on the work I am doing.  This is my second year as a math coach / interventionist and I have decided to create an intervention course for our 7th grade.  It will be an ongoing project all school year and I decided I should blog about the process for a few reasons.
1.  I want to remember what I am doing in case I want to try to do something like this again.
2.  I want to share it with others in case it helps you with your work.
3.  A blog is a great place to share ideas and concerns to get feedback from others, and I know I am going to need some help along the way.

This first post is just going to give you some background on why I have decided to create this course and what I hope to accomplish.

Our teachers run intervention groups during study hall time.  They work with small groups every other day.  We have spent years floundering through these interventions.  Not sure who to work with, what to work on with them, or if what we were doing was making any difference.  Because the bulk of our day was spent teaching math classes, the intervention work was always somewhat of an afterthought in the planning process.

One of the struggles we have experienced in my middle school is that the intervention work is often many grade years below what we do in class.  Students might be making some progress in interventions but they would continue to struggle in math class and receive failing grades.  It is difficult to keep a student motivated to do extra math when they are not feeling successful in that class.

Listening to the Making Math Moments that Matter Podcast last year I started to think that maybe we were taking the wrong approach to interventions.  We were selecting activities below grade level to help improve those skills.  But what if we chose grade level tasks.  We could engage students in open tasks that explore grade level concepts, and help build and strengthen the prerequisites along the way.  In the podcast, Kyle and Jon, talk about the importance of anticipating how students will solve a task.  If we could anticipate possible solutions, we could anticipate discussions about those background skills along the way.

Last year was also a big year for our 8th grade math program.  Two of our teachers were able to pilot the CPM Support course with some our our students.  Here is the description given by CPM:

The course is unique in that it focuses on problem solving, building relationships, building student confidence, while also focusing on some key 8th grade standards like ratio and proportion, solving equations, and numeracy. 

I was able to observe this course being taught and it was great.  Our teachers saw great results.  Many students who had been disengaged and overwhelmed in math class were participating in discussions and more willing to try new things.  The teachers were frontloading some concepts and the students were more confident in class when those concepts were discussed.

Because of the success of the support course, I decided I wanted to try to create something similar in 7th grade.  Keeping in mind that CPM has done a lot of research and training to create their course that I will not be able to do, I want to use the same philosophy as CPM's support course and the framework*  laid out by the Making Math Moments that Matter team to create an organized curriculum for 7th grade interventions.

*Framework is not really the right word.  You can follow the link and decide what the right word choice should be. 

And so this year my I am going to attempt to create what we are calling Math Investigations.
Wish me luck!

**I should also note that 2 teachers will be using this intervention course.  There is still another layer of interventions that allow for small group targeted interventions.

Next Post in the Series: Standards and Pacing

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