Instructional Strategies and Supports – Math Division II

16 Dec

problem solvingSome rights reserved by justgrimes

Math classrooms should be places where students:

  • inquire
  • are curious
  • have courage
  • develop confidence
  • listen to their intuition
  • talk to each other
  • look at different processes and solutions
  • are constantly challenged at their level
  • are given growht mindset messages
  • are assessed formatively to inform learning

Math classrooms should be places where students believe:

  • everyone can do well
  • problem solving comes in many forms
  • mistakes are valuable
  • math is found throughout our lives

The following resource was developed as I saw a need to share the various resources and strategies for grades 4-6 teachers and students in an inclusive Math classroom. The main structure of the document comes from the Alberta Education Inclusive Library and the resources come from what I believe teachers have access to or can obtain in order to further math development and thinking in their classrooms. Please let me know if you have other compatible resources that I should add to this list!

Note: Last week, I shared the Division I resource that I created on this very same topic. If grades 1-3 inclusive supports and strategies for Math interest you, please see my Division I blog post.


Math Rubrics for grades 1-9
• Develop and use 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.
• Activate and 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 (See gr5_multiplyingdividingwholenumbers as an example.)
AAC Math Performance-based tasks (must have a subscription)
Math Problem of the Week from University of Waterloo
More problems of the week from MathCounts (US organization)
– Utilize this process of Think n Draw, Talk about it, Try something, Does it make sense?
• Reference and create 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 3-5). Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.
– Utilize for math and cross-curricular lessons
• Use reflection to expand conceptual understanding of number operations
– Work through questions and tasks from Small, M. & Lin, A. (2009). Good questions: great ways to differentiate mathematics instruction. New York Reston, VA Scarborough, Ont: Teachers College Press MCTN Nelson Education
– Set up a Math Journal in a Google Document, share with teacher and reflect on a weekly or specified basis. Overall reflections, monthly perhaps could then be shared via the student’s blog. (101 Math Journal Prompts, Ideas from Pinterest, or even Talking, Writing, and Reasoning.)
• Connect numbers to their own 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 4,5 or 6. 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
– collaborative class Google Doc
– Frayer modelFrayer

o create connections between personal experiences and new mathematical concepts
Numeracy Nets for each grade level ($138 each for grades 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, Fotopedia), take photos from around the community, brainstorming, compare/contrast maps
o learn to use manipulatives
– fraction circles, base ten blocks, balance + counters to represent numbers and problems in a variety of contexts
o use visual models and supports
– open array, open number lines, rekenreks, place value mats, grid paper, place value mats, LearnAlberta Gizmos, Discovery Education, Paperport Notes grid paper
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
– Khan Academy (online videos), ShowMe/Educreations (iOS apps) demos by students/teachers
– problematize math examples from (and check out Dan Meyer and other noteworthy math bloggers!)
o develop and apply personal strategies
– math journals/blogs, 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 and GlogsterEdu, Discovery Education Board Builder
– Mathematician’s chair where students take turns explaining how they know a number is even or odd, describing results of a survey or demonstrating an addition/subtraction/division/multiplication, etc. strategy. The chair as well as demonstration tools (whietboard, chart paper, iPad + Apple TV, etc.) provide a focus for thinking about mathematical ideas
– 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/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
– collaborative small group Google Doc
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
– build a math folder in Google Drive and make a math journal, add various Google docs and presentations created throughout the year
– utilize specific graphic organizers to target thinking
– save parts of math videos (Discovery Education, LearnAlberta, Khan Academy 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

1 Comment

Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Uncategorized


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