Instructional Strategies and Supports – Math Division I

06 Dec

We all love mathPhoto Credit: _Untitled-1 via Compfight cc

After reviewing, reading, sharing and even making conversations guides on the Making a Difference: Meeting diverse learning needs with differentiated instruction Alberta Education resource, I am excited to say that I have even further expanded its reach through developing specific instructional strategies and supports in the area of Math.

We know that students greatly benefit from a variety of learning strategies, supports and levels which is dependent on their own strengths and areas of growth. I have taken the draft Mathematics Instructional Supports Division I (grades 1-3) document written by Alberta Education and added specific resources that are already available for our teachers to utilized when thinking about Universal, Targeted and Intensive/Specialized supports and strategies. It is my hope that this information will give teachers an opportunity to first become aware of the possibilities and then try some of these resources, supports and/or strategies in their classrooms. If there are other resources that you believe I should add to this information, please comment below!

* For professional reading

– Lockhart’s Lament (first six pages) –

– Walle, J. (2004). Elementary and middle school mathematics: teaching developmentally. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.



·         Math Rubrics for grades 1-9 –

·         Develop mathematical language

– communication in math can occur while constructing a Foldable (cross-curricular integration) from Zike, D. (2003). Dinah Zike’s big book of math: grade levels K-6. San Antonio, TX: Dinah-Might Activities.

·         Build background knowledge

IXL software for supplementary support – as a warm-up or cool-down for the day’s Math activities or twice a week during a regular schedule, has a subscription cost per student.

Math Planning Guides at each grade level found in LearnAlberta (a step-by-step guide).

AAC Math Performance-based tasks

– Utilize this process of Think n Draw: Talk about it, Try something, Does it make sense? (example)

·         Reference and use models and exemplars

Big Book of Math (as referenced above)

·         Use manipulatives and pictorial representations to explore and express learning

– Manipulative kits

– SMART Notebook Gallery

– Problematize math by using Walle, J. & Lovin, L. (2006). Teaching student-centered mathematics (grades K-3). Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.

– Utilize for math and cross-curricular lessons

·         Participate in guided hands-on activities to develop conceptual understanding of number operations

– Work through questions and tasks from Small, M. & Lin, A. (2013). Good questions: great ways to differentiate mathematics instruction, 2nd edition. New York Reston, VA Scarborough, Ont: Teachers College Press MCTN Nelson Education

– Set up a Math reflections perhaps could be shared via the classroom blog.

– Review various performance-based assessments developed by AAC at  – need a subscription

·        Begin to use reflection to build conceptual understanding of number operations

–         Math journal (Sticking with Math Journals, Math Journal Sundays)

–         Mathematician’s chair where students take turns explaining how they know a number is even or odd, describing results of a survey or demonstrating a number operations strategy. The chair as well as demonstration tools (whiteboard, chart paper, iPad + Apple TV, etc.) provide a focus for thinking about mathematical ideas

·        Begin to recognize that numbers are connected to their real-life experiences

– challenge all students to a monthly or per unit question using Westley, J. (1995). Puddle Questions for Math: Assessing Mathematical Thinking, Grade 1,2 or 3. Chicago: Creative Publications to assess their mathematical thinking



·         Create scaffolded hands-on activities for students to work with a partner or in small groups to:

o    learn and use mathematical words

– word walls

– Frayer model


o    create connections between personal  experiences and new mathematical concepts

Numeracy Nets for each grade level (grades K-2, 3-8 by Pearson) which is an assessment and planning tool that uncovers students’ misconceptions, enhances instructional responses and improves student achievement. Appendices show correlation with specific approved Math resources!!

Leaps and Bounds (grades 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 by Nelson) provide interventions for various topics in each strand. Each intervention can be used for whole class/small group/individual. Use a diagnostic, choose a pathway, then an intervention which is either open-ended or guided. Teacher’s Resource and Student Blackline Masters cost around $300 together.

– Use Creative Commons images (The Big Picture, Wikimedia Commons, Flickr Creative Commons), take photos from around the community, mindmapping

– Think Pair Share Kagan Cooperative Learning Structure which provide students with food for thought on a given math problem enabling them time to reflect and share these ideas with another student.

– RAN charts


o    learn to use manipulatives

– base ten blocks, balance + counters to represent numbers and problems in a variety of contexts

o    use visual models and supports

– open number lines, hundred chart, rekenreks, place value mats, strings, LearnAlberta Gizmos, Discovery Education

o    revisit and review key concepts using a variety of learning experiences connected to real-life experiences at home, at school and in the community

– ShowMe/Educreations (iOS apps) demos by students/teachers

o    develop and apply personal strategies

– math journals, think alouds

– small group to whole class guided math instruction via Sammons, L. (2010). Guided math : a framework for mathematics instruction. Huntington Beach, CA: Shell Education and Newton, N. (2013). Guided math in action : building each student’s mathematical proficiency with small-group instruction. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

– Math Daily 3 from

o    explore multiple ways to express learning

– math picture book such as building one from Read & Write Gold Vocabulary List, posters – paper

– use Growth Mindset Feedback (added comments) throughout. Originally from



·         Use direct teaching, repeated modelling and guided practice and small group and individualized instruction to:

o    Create hands-on multisensory activities to introduce and explore new math concepts and/or experiences

– iOS apps: Educreations/ShowMe

– LearnAlberta Math Gizmos

– National Library of Virtual Manipulatives –

– SMART Notebook Gallery

o    Support development of vocabulary related to numbers

– math journal/classroom blog

– iOS apps: Fotobabble, Wordfoto

– word wall

o    Explore, discuss and record how numbers are used in the physical environment at school, at home and in the community

– math station/centres

o    Have access to math materials and visual prompts that are modified for ease of use

– box of manipulatives at point of instruction

– embed visuals into lessons, introduction to concepts

o    Create and use visual records from previous learning experiences using photos, anchor charts and experience charts

– utilize specific graphic organizers to target thinking

– save parts of math videos (Discovery Education, LearnAlberta, or student/teacher-created) for certain students to review as many times as they need

o    Explore and record number operations and basic math concepts using visual prompts, concrete objects, pictures, photos and dramatizations.

– view (subscription) on specific math concepts and create own hip hop video explanation


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