Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Creating an Intervention Course - Planning Activities

This is the third post in a series about creating an intervention course.  The first post can be found here.

The pacing guide discussed in the last blog post, gave me an outline for the first unit.  I have a better understanding of what concepts we want to teach.  This in and of itself feels like a huge improvement from what we have done in the past because we now have some direction.  There are so many great resources and activities.  I could spend a whole month on some of these topics: area and perimeter, fractions, percents.  In looking for activities I have some criteria in mind.  

  1. It must allow the students to play and explore ideas.  
  2. It must elicit conversation so that teachers get a better understanding of student thinking and misconceptions.
  3. It must help create understanding and make connections (not practice skills and procedures that are memorized).
  4. It must have some support for teachers who are facilitating the activities.
The teachers I work with are great.  I am truly blessed to be surrounded by dedicated, passionate math teachers.  When we adapted CPM curriculum 6 years ago we were all in.  It was a very tough year, but we embraced the teamwork, collaboration, and hands on activities.  We have truly transformed our math classrooms.  I do not need to worry about doing any PD around what math class should look like.  Now that we know what it should look like, we also know that it can take a lot of time to plan quality lessons and tasks.  And as much as the teachers understand math at their grade level, we do not always understand what conceptual teaching looks like for grade levels below ours.  I have dedicated a lot of time over the past 4 years learning elementary math so that I can be a better middle school teacher.  The downside of that is that I lost my work / life balance and wore myself too thin trying to do it all.  Because of this I want to find resources that provide that professional development for teachers.  

The 2 main resources I plan to use are Jo Boaler's Mindset Mathematics books and Illustrative Math Open Up Resources.  These two resources have lesson plans for teachers and resources at grade levels below 7th grade.  These are both great resources that allow students to explore the concepts with quality tasks. I don't want to overwhelm teachers with too many resources at this point, so while there are many other quality resources that fit my description, these are the two I intend to use the most.  I will supplement with other resources if I can't find what I am looking for in these to places.  

As I am filling in the pacing chart with activities and learning targets I am also linking to notes below the table.  One of the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions is anticipate. I think it was Jon Orr, in one of the first Make Math Moments that Matter Podcast, who said  

he tries to think about the least amount of math a student could use to solve a task.  

So this is what I have been doing.  Not only anticipating the least amount of math, but thinking about what skill sets they need in order to choose a more sophisticated strategy.  This is going to be important for teachers to make note and ask questions to elicit student thinking.  Often times in middle school interventions students know other strategies, they just don't feel confident using them or they have a go to method that they use whether it is efficient or not.  Some students have actually become so efficient at strategies that should not be efficient (like count by ones) that it can be hard to get them to move forward in their thinking.  These are all things that we need to uncover through conversations.    

With the start of the school year, I am doing the anticipating and writing my notes.  The goal is to do this with the teacher team once we get rolling and have time to meet.  Here is an example of some of the notes I've written:

My first meeting with the teachers will be tomorrow.  We need to discuss success criteria and the first few activities.  

I will let you know how it goes.  


  1. Oh my gosh, Adrianne, your posts so perfectly articulate exactly what I've been feeling and thinking. Your intentionality and insights are incredible -- I love your criteria for choosing tasks, and your anticipatory notes are absolutely brilliant (and something that I would pay big $$$ for ;)). I genuinely enjoy diving down those rich rabbit holes of MTBoS each night, but I'm perpetually sleep-deprived and sick and have got to find some sort of balance this year. I'm teaching the 7th grade intervention class for the first time, so I can't even tell you how thrilled I am that you're curating a curriculum; I know it will be pure gold. Teaching would be so much more manageable if there were more people as generous and knowledgable as you!

    1. Thank you so much for the compliment. I am happy to share what I can from the course with you. Some of it is copyright, like the resources from Mindset Mathematics, but you could buy the book to have access to those. It would be great to get input from someone else trying it. You can find me on Twitter at @a_schindy. You can send me a direct message that way and we can connect.

  2. I also listen to the Making Math Moments that Matter podcast religiously and will be on an episode later this year! So nervous. :P

    I know you're already supporting so many teachers, but if there's any way I could collaborate with you and be one of your guinea pigs, it would truly make my whole year.

    1. I'm pretty sure this post is from the same person above, but it just says unknown so I am responding to both just in case. Feel free to send me a message on Twitter and we can connect. I would love others to try what we are doing and give some feedback and input.
      Also, I think it is really exciting that you will be on the MMMtM podcast. I can't wait to hear that one!