Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers
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Strategies for Teaching Students Struggling With Mathematics

Why do we need different teaching strategies for students with math disabilities and those who struggle with mathematics?

All educators are aware that not all students learn in the same manner.  However, it is difficult to reach all learners all of the time.  Often it is the students who understand and participate in the lesson that drive the instruction, leaving the student who “hides in the back” completely lost.  The teaching strategies provided in this collection are intended to help teachers differentiate their lessons to reach those students who are struggling with mathematics.  These resources are comprised of webpages, articles, and research reports showcasing teaching strategies to reach these struggling learners, whether they are struggling due to a learning disability or they just have difficulty with math.

How will these resources help? 

These resources provide techniques teachers can use to assess and intervene when students are struggling in mathematics.  There are tips on how to engage struggling learners, strategies for improving problem solving, and suggestions for intervention models.  Several resources suggest interventions that address students’ needs in reading while learning math, as well as for English language learners.  Three of the resources discuss the specifics of choosing and integrating technology into instruction, which has been shown to benefit all learners.  There are also some longer items that include research studies on effective teaching strategies and response to intervention. 

Differentiation: Not just for those who are struggling with mathematics

Differentiation is often associated with reaching students who need more assistance, reteaching, or intervention.  However, differentiation should be used with all levels of learners.  Since we know that students have a preferred learning style, it makes sense to provide tasks that reflect students' abilities and preferences, and that challenge them at the appropriate level. .  Several of the resources in this collection provide insight into differentiation for all students, including one resource from NCTM on Tips for Supporting All Students: Equity and Diversity

Created:08-17-2012 by bethb
Last Post:08-31-2012 by Uncle Bob

Resource Title/Description

This 16-page report summarizes the findings of meta-research on effective practices for students with learning disabilities or difficulties learning mathematics. The work was conducted by the Center on Instruction and compiled in the report "Mathematics Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities or Difficulty Learning Mathematics: A Synthesis of the Intervention Research". This summary highlights the seven most effective strategies as determined by the research report. Each strategy is detailed, a discussion of how it is to be utilized is provided, and evidence from the report is given.
This 60-page research-based guide provides the best practices for teaching students with learning difficulties in math and reading. The highlighted interventions include supporting cognitive processing, intensifying instructional delivery, increasing learning time, and reducing group size. The article also provides suggestions for further reading and three examples of how lessons can be modified to include these recommendations.
In this practice guide the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) provides reseach based guidelines for implementing a school or system wide intervention program. The guide identifies eight recommendations to help educators use response to intervention practices, provides a brief description of each, establishes the relative strength of the research base, and discusses difficulties that may occur in implementing these interventions.
This webpage contains the links to 5 short articles on strategies for teaching students with dyscalculia. The articles that are included are: Components of Effective Mathematics Instruction, 10 tips for Software Selection in Mathematics Instruction, Number Sense: Rethinking Arithmetic Instruction for Students with Mathematics Disabilities, Students with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities, and Technology Supported Math Instruction for Students with Disabilities: Two Decades of Research and Development.
In this article the authors provide before, during, and after problem solving strategies and instructional suggestions for teachers. The focus of the article is to improve the ability of students with disabilities that are also English as a second language (ESL) learners to solve word problems. The authors provide multiple teaching strategies, questioning techniques, and links to lesson resources.
This 25-page resource (pdf) from Frederick County Public School System outlines their policy for hetrogeneous grouping in mathematics. This resource explains their decisions as a school system, the ways in which their teachers are expected to plan and implement their lessons, and provides recommendations for the differentiation of instruction to reach all learners.
In this group of three 5-minute videos for teachers of grades 3 through 8, three co-teaching teams describe how they work within the same classroom, collaborating on math instruction. Each pair, one classroom teacher and one special educator, talk of the benefits that collaborative teaching can offer and share their experiences of teaching mathematics in an inclusion classroom.
In this research brief the authors detail effective teaching strategies for teaching students with difficulties in math. The brief summarizes the work of over fifty research studies and details the practices that were seen as consistently effective across many of them. The brief details six instructional strategies and presents data describing the effectiveness of each on special education students and low-achieving students. The brief can be viewed on the webpage or downloaded as a PDF.
In this article eight guidelines are detailed for making adaptations to the general reading and math curriculum. Each principal is explained and a link is provided to a chart that lists these guidelines and questions to ask yourself before selecting the adaptation. A link to similar articles on adapting curriculum is also provided.
This reference webpage, provided by NCTM, offers 7 tips for providing equity for all learners. The guidelines elaborate on the practices of individualizing instruction, providing a positive classroom climate, identifying biases, questioning and listening techniques, and the concept of equity in education.
This reference webpage, provided by NCTM, lists various techniques that could be used to differentiate instruction. Since each activity and each group of students are different, it may be necessary to vary these strategies or use one more than another. Each strategy contains a brief description, and some offer links to more detailed information.
In this article researchers identify the three main areas of mathematics cognition and identify technology tools and programs that may benefit students with difficulties in mathematics. The article is structured to define and provide solutions for declarative math difficulties, procedural math difficulties, and conceptual math difficulties. Throughout the article links or suggestions about software or internet resources (some free and some for purchase) are provided.
This 8-page article from Technology in Action provides suggestions for choosing and implementing web-based practice in the classroom. The article focuses on sites that provide specific benefits in building number sense, conceptual understanding, and problem solving for students with learning disabilities and visual impairments.