Math Interventions for Counting

Intervention has been quite the buzz word the last year or so, hasn’t it???  At least it has been in my neck of the woods.  Generally, teachers are very comfortable doing intervention in literacy, but what does good, research based intervention look like in math?  I’ll be blogging about ways I used intervention in my math instruction last year over the next few days.

RTI #2: Counting Collections 

Counting Collections is one of the most powerful routines I’ve done in my classroom to support my CGI instruction.  The rewards are great and are quick and easy to see.  Doing CGI 3 to 4 times a week frees up one or two days a week for Counting Collections, Fact Fluency or math skill games.  And since Counting Collections and Fact Fluency are essentially the same routine every week, it allows me time to small group.

It’s the same concept as guided reading and stations or readers workshop or whatever you do.  After a few weeks, when kids understand the routines, then it frees me up for intervention.  This is how it works.

During Counting Collections, my kids are counting independently for 20-30 minutes.  That gives me time for either one big intervention time {which I use more at the beginning of the year} or two smaller intervention times {more after Christmas}.  When I just have one group, I pull my “pink group” back with me and we count together.  If you have my Counting Collections packet, you know my pink counters are my babies struggling to count to 20 and notate their thinking (write numbers and equations).  We basically go through the counting collections routine altogether so I can hear each of them count and watch them write their numbers.  Another thing that works great is making these low babies count by placing them on a number line or numbers chart.  I make them pull one at a time, count and place the counter on their chart all at the same time.  Then, when we finish we go back and count orally together.  Then they record a picture of their set on their recording sheet from the packet and label each item so they get additional practice writing numbers correctly.  Here’s what it looks like counting on a chart…

For whatever reason, most of my 0-20 collection tubs are bigger items.  I guess maybe because smaller things come in larger quantities??  Anyways, I found the larger sets very difficult when doing intervention groups because….

(1) They seem to come in a variety of colors.  And while that’s pretty and all, it gets those strugglers off track and distracted by the levels of the prettiness.  They start sorting by color, or trying to count certain colors first….it’s honestly just a time waster when I’m trying to do intervention! 😉

And (2) The kids couldn’t see the numbers on the hundreds chart as we put them on anyways.  So yeah….covering up numbers for babies who struggling rote counting….ummmmm, not a good idea!

So, when I do intervention in my classroom for Counting Collections, we use small collections: beans or cheerios work great.  And then they think they are super special because they get to count something nobody else gets to count!!!

All one color so the focus is counting and look how much easier it is to see the numbers as I count!

Another thing I do during one-on-one private tutoring for kiddos is make a list of things I can count at home.  This is great way to get kids excited about counting at home and makes a “boring” skill a little more engaging for homework!  Plus, the parents love it because it’s something fresh and new.  I think I’m going to try sending this home with all my firsties this year….brainstorm a list together, have my students write their list of things to count at home and then send it home for parents to use for practice.  Here’s the form I made to send home this year.  For those of you who already have my Counting Collections packet, I’ve added it to the packet.  Grab my counting collections packet if you don’t already have it!

Great boy items I’ve come up with during tutoring: legos, blocks, rocks, hot wheels, goldfish snacks…

Girl items that work great: stickers, crayons, snacks, and depending on how much they have: dolls/barbies, doll clothes, makeup…the possibilities are endless.  And when the kids come up with them on their own, they are more excited about counting at home!

Later in the year, when I am able to meet with two shorter groups, I start with my lowest kiddos and go through the routine with them, get them started and then move them to an area close by my small group table to work where I can monitor them.  Then, I pull back some of my kiddos who are counting great, but need help with notating their counting and work with them.  Here’s an example of partners working on a grade level set of numbers for the end of the year, but not using notation.  My colored highlighter marks are how we worked on notation together in small groups…and then used it for share time!

This is the perfect opportunity to focus in on those highest kids and still move them as well.  I’m a big believer in this.  Small groups are not only for the lowest, but for all.  My job as a teacher is to meet kids where they are and help them grow.  Teach them ALL….including the lowest of the lows and the highest of the highs.  Okay, stepping off soapbox now!

Again, if you are keeping track of my math RTI time in my classroom, I’m up to 80 minutes a week {60 minutes each week during CGI and 20 minutes during Counting Collections} and I’m not even finished with weekly interventions.  5 minutes here….10 minutes here…it all adds up!  And this isn’t even counting pull out, organized intervention yet.  So much can be done in our own classrooms–that should never be discredited.  Besides, pull outs are great….but who knows your kids better than you? I sure do want to be the one in control of most of the intervention time for my kiddos if at all possible!

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