Going the Extra Mile: Acceleration and Intervention

Posted by Richard Kingham on July 07, 2021

Introduction

The learning needs of one student are often not those of their classmates. To meet each student where they are, teachers need an eclectic set of instructional tools and strategies to draw from. As former teachers themselves, the architects of STEMscopes Math understood this and so created the kind of curriculum they wanted in the classroom. Using Roger Bybee’s 5E model as the framework for STEMscopes Math, they augmented our curriculum with Accelerate and Intervention, components that equip teachers to meet a diverse range of learning styles. We’ll review these components below.

Accelerate

Accelerate challenges advanced students beyond the meat and potatoes of a lesson. Note that Accelerate is for every student, not just the advanced. Our hope is that every student will be exposed to the content in Accelerate. 

Rather than manufacturing endless worksheets that encourage rote learning, Accelerate offers immersive learning experiences, such as Math Today or Create Your Own. Math Today provides activities that contextualize academic content in real-life scenarios familiar and interesting to students, an approach called real-world connection. 

One of the benefits of real-world connection is that students see the role of math in their everyday life. They will never ask, “When will I ever use this?” because they are shown how they will use it. Moreover, students are more likely to engage with a new concept if it’s presented through a familiar experience. Abstract symbols—for example, addition and subtraction signs, fraction bars, and decimals—can intimidate students and make math seem irrelevant. Real-world connection demonstrates the practical application of these symbols and makes math relatable. 

Create Your Own encourages students grades two through five to combine their problem-solving skills and imagination to make something new, such as plays, songs, apps, and their own inventions. Create Your Own dispels the myth that analytic subjects (like math) involve only mechanical theories and algorithms that preclude creativity. Many students who say that they aren’t “math people” often identify as creatives drawn to the humanities and the arts. Conversely, analytically inclined students often express their relief that in math there is a “right answer,” unlike in poetry or painting. Both sides misunderstand math (and the arts and humanities, for that matter), and teaching models that stress rote learning and worksheets encourage these misunderstandings. Accelerate activities open students to new attitudes about math and its applications in the world around them.

Intervention

Intervention bolsters shaky comprehension, closes learning gaps, and provides various avenues for presenting academic content. Just as Accelerate is not only for advanced students, Intervention is not only for struggling students. It can be used to reinforce content on all learning levels. 

The main and most powerful feature of Intervention is small-group intervention. Indeed, research shows that one of the most effective tools in combating pandemic-related learning loss is high-dosage tutoring, small-group instruction with three to five students per instructor. STEMscopes Math lends itself to high-dosage tutoring. Our Small-Group Intervention activities are also dynamic, interactive, and hands-on. Each Small-Group Intervention activity is different, so students stay engaged and instruction remains new and fresh. To get a preview of Small-Group Intervention and other aspects of our curriculum, head over to stemscopes.com/math.

You don’t need to wait until the end of a lesson cycle to implement Intervention. Intervention can be strategically used at any point, and is especially useful for differentiation. Let’s say, for example, that the teacher conducts a formative assessment at the midway point of a unit on multiplying fractions. The formative assessment reveals that more than half of the class is struggling. The teacher can then use Intervention to re-teach the material and focus on the specific areas where students are struggling. The teacher can pair students, so they can work together. Intervention also allows the teacher to work more closely with each student, answer their particular questions, and correct mistakes.

Conclusion

There is a lot to love in STEMscopes Math, but Accelerate and Intervention distinguish us and make us a unique instructional tool. There’s always a plurality of learning styles in the classroom, but with pandemic-related learning loss, you may find an even greater range this year. Accelerate and Intervention will help teachers meet those varying needs, especially Intervention, which is useful in conducting high-dosage tutoring and closing learning gaps. 

Topics: mathematical reasoning, math, "STEM"