Recommendations for Small Group Targeted Instruction

1. Screen students, identify at-risk learners, and provide targeted supports.

If your division does not have screeners, you can use:

2. Groups should not be larger than 5 students
3. Ideally, sessions are 30-40 minutes long, happen daily and last a minimum of 5 weeks.
4. Spend the first 10 minutes of each session on mastering basic facts with fluency. 

5.Targeted supports should focus on whole numbers and number sense in K-5 and rational numbers and number sense in Grades 4-8. (Riccomini & Witzel, 2010)

  • Video: WWC Recommendation: Materials should focus on whole numbers in K-5 and on rational numbers in 4-8

6. Instruction during targeted supports should be explicit and systematic. During regular instruction, we often skip around through math content to show connections between skills. This approach may cause difficulty for students that are struggling to master a single concept or skill (Riccomini & Witzel, 2010).

7. Use a growth mindset approach. Students gain confidence as they experience growth and often experience relief when they develop fluency (Riccomini, 2010).
8. Rigorously monitor progress.

The essential strategies to include when teaching targeted support groups are:

  • Visual representations
  • Manipulatives and concrete experiences
  • Concrete to representational to abstract (CRA) sequence (Begin with concrete hands-on experiences then move towards visual representations and abstract and symbolic representations)
    • Video: What Is The Concrete Representational Abstract Approach?
    • Video:WWC Recommendation: Materials should include opportunities to work with visual representations
    • CRA Step-by-step: Concrete Representational Abstract (CRA) is a three step instructional approach that has been found to be highly effective in teaching math concepts

Models (exemplars) of well-worked problems

  • Teacher and student think-alouds
  • Guided practice and feedback
  • Frequent reviews and summaries
  • Instruction on solving word problems based on common underlying structures
  • Analysis and discussion of common errors
      Sample Lesson Plan:

      Fact fluency practice (5-10 minutes)

      5-10 minutes of basic fluency practice. Fluency practice is provided through games using cards, dice, catch-balls, etc. Observe students as they play and monitor and track student fluency.

      • Students should be able to state each fact on three different occasions without applying strategies to consider it “mastered”. 
      Game Ideas

      Math Card Games

      Hit the Deck: A collection of math games with a deck of cards

      Games to Play with a Pair of Dice.pdf

      5 Math Games That Decrease Your Prep Time (These games can be adapted for any skill)

      Up, Down and Around – Math Games by Addition Strategy

      Slapjack Math Game

      Plus 9 Face Off

      Friendly Fish Addition Game

      Did you know…any games that use a deck of cards can also be played with ten frame cards to provide visual support for students that need it?

      Review last session’s work (5 minutes)

      Students write a short entrance slip based on the material they worked on in the last session. Discuss and review the work.

      New learning (10-20 minutes)

      New learning. Ensure that instruction is explicit and systematic. Provide opportunities for students to talk about their understanding and reasoning and receive immediate feedback. Use manipulatives, visuals and models.

      Independent practice (formative assessment) (5-10 minutes)

      “On your own” question as a formative assessment.

      Optional: Reward game

      Something students enjoy that still reinforces math concepts and/or fact fluency.

      Targeted support is…

      Targeted support is not…

      In addition to high-quality classroom instruction. A session where students practice what was taught in the classroom.
      Provided based on assessment data. Provided based on general diagnosis (ex: ADHD, dyslexia), socio-economic status, culture/race, EAL or behaviour patterns.
      Interesting and engaging high-quality instruction. Drill and practice or fully technology based.
      Focused on student success in areas they were previously struggling. Teaching a random selection of skills.
      Taught in an area free of distractions. Taught in the regular classroom or hallway.
      Focused on a specific outcome, concept or skill. An attempt to fill all gaps.
      Short-term. Year-long, life-long.