Supporting Each Other, Supporting Kids

Today was a magical day of learning and camaraderie. I met the fabulous @allison_krasnow 
(Pretend there is a happy, smiling picture of two Ts lucky enough to meet in person after knowing 
each other from our beloved #MTBoS) We finished each other's sentences and "got" each other. We talked 
living in Nor Cal, what makes an elementary school great and what does part two of wherever we are in our 
lives look like.

Then we talked Math Intervention. Allison teaches middle school in urban Berkeley. I teach in Suburban 
Windsor. She teaches 7th grade math intervention, I teach, um, a class of 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. You 
would NOT at all be surprised how much those two classes have in common. Both have management challenges.
Both have students that lack confidence. Both have students with gaps in their math education. Both need more 
practice looking at operations with flexibility. Both have teachers with multiple preps and not enough band 
width to do everything we want to do in our math intervention classes. Both have white teachers, who for
the most part, don't share our students non-whiteness. We both agree that beyond the gaps, 
learning how to be students and advocate for oneself are essential keys to helping these kids believe in 
themselves not only as mathematicians, but as students. 

Being together today made doing a little more seem not so impossible. 

Allison does number talks almost every day. She asks students to keep a notebook. She grades them once per week. She 
Students need to write down a few of the strategies of others. She does this amazing tweak of @saradwerf 's 
Stand And Talks. Instead of holding card stock, she shows a short part of an instructional video, pauses, has the Ss move to talk to a partner about what they learned, heard, wonder, notice, then they get Ss get to sit ON(!) the desk nearest them and watch the second part. Pause video, stand and find a new partner, discuss, sit on desk, repeat. 

We talked about the confidence that comes from playing games. How we both wanted to spend more time playing board games, how we both dread how long it takes to teach the rules and the fear of managing game pieces, how we both have grants with money just for intervention support. I grabbed Maya Madness and Scan, and we played some quick rounds. Out came the phone, pictures snapped. (You are welcome Ebay Sellers). She will try using IXL or Delta Math to occupy 1/2 the class while she teaches game rules, then switch. 

I have done many things in my HS Math Support Class. I am the one with the 28 students from 8 different teachers, teaching 10th, 11th, and 12th graders taking Math 1 and Math 2. I have done Number Talks and Clothesline Math, Close Reading and Vocabulary Sorts, SSR and Activity Logs, and now I am on to the Math Question of the Day. I have a 33% of the student's grade based on a Delta Math Component. 50% of my students are still failing their math classes (not a proud stat for me) as they have D's and F's in at least 3 classes. 

I am in the process of interviewing each one of my students. Asking them how they feel about math, about how they are doing, and how they are being successful. I have access to all their grades so I know where they are being successful. I have interviewed several the teachers. The teachers talk about making the learning exciting (They teach Music and Integrated Science) and relevant. Folks I am trying. I want to learn what they need from an intervention class. Ah, from sharing this with Allison and her wish to be able to do the same, I came up with the idea of a Google Form for their Math teachers. "How can I support you?" And Allison and I decided this would be a good idea to give the question to the students also.

We both talked about the comfort of routines (see this post by @lisa_bej) and how we weren't so consistent about it, but thought it was good idea to be better about it. 

We shared other ideas like using the NY Times What's Going On in This Graph (we both had it bookmarked) and Allison is going to share with me her work with Fraction Strips. 

It was so helpful to know I wasn't alone, that there are amazing and generous and real and SMART folks at the other end of my keyboard and we look forward to the lucky chance to meet up again.

What do you do in your Support Classes that has a positive impact on your students ability to be students?

You may also like


  1. Would love to be part of this conversation! My list of must haves: Building a safe space
    Learning to try
    Transparent practice structures
    Number sense

    Here is my resource list from my Asilomar session on support classes.

    1. Leeanne! So sorry I missed this! I did not get any notifications.
      So glad you chimed in. I will check out your list and let you know how it is going. Today, one of my students came to me and said, "I need a social justice group, I am so angry at the system." We researched and found a few options. Not math, but bridging a safe space to turn frustration into right action.

      PS Blogging about the notebook and will blog about how your Special Rt. Triangle Routine made a huge difference. : )

  2. I teach a math support class to 8th graders who are taking Algebra 1 (MN math standards--linear algebra). These students were identified as needing support because they failed Pre-algebra in 7th grade. I am somewhat new to the course as I was not the teacher who started the year with them, but due to a teacher leaving the district I was moved into this class as their teacher.

    My focus has been to help students build a positive relationship with math. On Friday's they reflect on their learning by answering simple how are you doing questions. Some questions are data driven; what is your practice work average, test average, and overall average. Other questions are designed to get them thinking about their work habits and effort; are you respectful to classmates and adults, rank your effort level on a continuum from 0 - 100%, and do you believe you can do math [this is a continuum ranking from strongly disagree to strongly agree]. Finally, each week I write a short message to each student and I have them write me a short message back. In this message I remark on what I think they could be doing in this class to improve their class and course experience and I also tell them what I felt they did well this week.

    The class is also set up with incentives that are daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. These were set up by the students and the previous teacher of the class.

  3. Thank you so much for your thoughts. (sorry I did not get any notifications of replies). I love the idea of writing a note to the students every week. Some are responding to a person who cares so, so much about their progress, some not so much. I keep tweaking, and will keep integrating all your good ideas!


Like what you read? Want to contribute to the conversation? Leave a comment!