RTI Activities for Your Math Class & Giveaway

I’m always asked what are simple things that teachers can do in their rooms to support RTI in math. These four are easy to do and don’t require tons of up-front work and meet the learning needs of all the learners in your room. 

1) Math Journaling
Implementing a math journal allows your students to "think about their thinking" (metacognition) and record it in a way that makes sense to them. This journaling process gives you a window into each student's mind to determine where he or she needs help or enrichment.

Encourage students to draw, write and calculate in a math journal to solve problems, work through processes, and explain their actions. Assign math journals once a day, once a week or even once a month to create an invaluable, ongoing formative assessment.

In respect to RTI, you can differentiate journal assignments for Tier 1 students by providing open-ended questions, like "How would you quickly count all of the toes in this classroom?" Differentiate further for Tier 2 and Tier 3 students by asking more concrete questions, based on the concepts they are currently working on.

Math journals are a great way for students to show critical thinking and their problem solving skills.
Looking for good examples of a math journal?

Check out: Pinterest user Susan Cardin's "Math Journal" board.

2) Manipulatives
Consider a kindergarten classroom. It's likely stocked with colorful bins full of plastic toys, connecting cubes, blocks and three-dimensional shapes. Now, somewhere along the way to middle school those toys got left behind, but the cubes, blocks, and three-dimensional shapes still serve as valuable manipulative materials.

Manipulatives help students of all ages learn and understand math concepts, from counting to multiplication and division. Break out these manipulatives -- foregoing toys in an effort to respect the maturity of eighth graders -- to introduce more complex math concepts in a way students can see and touch (and talk about).

These manipulatives do not necessarily have to be concrete either! Recent educational technology developments even allow students to use virtual manipulatives on a touchscreen or laptop.
Your students will benefit from "seeing" math concepts in a new way. As they progress, some Tier 1 students will likely leave the tactile manipulatives behind as they "get it." Tier 2 and 3 students can continue to refer back to the objects (virtual and/or physical) for to help form better understandings and reinforce prior knowledge.

Check out: Megan Campbell's "Math Lessons,Manipulatives, & Ideas" board showcases a nice variety of manipulative ideas for math students of all ages and ranges.

3) Introduce and Review Math Vocabulary
As you know, math is its own language. Beginning in the early grades, your students learned terms like "sum", "difference", or "addend". These words (hopefully) became part of their everyday vocabulary. However, these mathematics terms often require revisiting and scaffolding, regardless of the student's current learning level and goals.

Post a running list of math vocabulary in the classroom and review it often. Going back to strategy one, ask students to journal about specific terms and real world application. It will be interesting to see how each student uniquely describes the term "factor" or "exponent." Allow students to draw, diagram or provide examples of terms rather than memorizing a textbook definition. 

Learning the vocabulary will help all students become more familiar with math concepts. In respect to your RTI model, you can stratify the complexity of the terms and the method of reviews between the tiers. For example, Tier 1 students might be best suited to learn more complex terms, as necessary, while Tier 2 and 3 students can continue to revisit learned terms via differentiated modalities as they develop needed comprehension. Plus, most state assessments use math vocabulary changing it or watering it down will cause confusion later on.

Check out: "Math Vocabulary Builders" Pinterest Board from Carol Camp for great math vocab activities and ideas!

4) Think Aloud
When teaching, or re-teaching, math concepts, using a "Think Aloud" activity is a great method for students to understand, hear, and see what's going on in your head as you solve the problem or work through a mathematical process.

Walk students through several examples by thinking aloud each step of the way. Encourage struggling students to model the "think aloud" process by asking them to explain each step as they go. This can be done in a whole-class, small group, or partner setting.


While Tier 1 students often "get it" without further explanation, thinking aloud helps break complex processes down into manageable steps for Tier 2 and 3 students. Also, by hearing and seeing explanations from their peers, students often have "light bulb" moments that may not have clicked during your teacher-led instruction. I use Think Alouds several times a week-I even work to get my students to lead them!

I hope you find something to take back to your class. Be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter to get a Broncos Magnet and a 25 dollar gift certificate to Teachers pay Teachers--just in time for Cyber Monday. Don't forget everything on my site will also be on sale!!




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About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I'm Ms. Whiteley. I teach in the beautiful Mile High state--Colorado. This is my 13th year teaching in an rural K-6 Elementary school as a Exceptional Needs Teachers. As Exceptional Needs National Board Certified Teacher, I believe that ALL students can learn and be successful. When I'm not in school, I love to take my two Italian Greyhounds hiking 14ers and reaching for the stars. Thanks for Hopping By.
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