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How Do I Decide Which Instructional Strategies to Implement?

The instructional decisions you make should be based on the particular needs of your students, the particular characteristics of the math content you are teaching, and your familiarity with the instructional strategies you are interested in using. The choices each teacher makes will vary according to these variables.

As you continue to use MathVIDS and continue to develop your understanding of and skill in using particular strategies, then deciding which strategies to use will become an easier and more efficient process.

It is not expected nor suggested that you attempt to use every instructional strategy immediately. Start with one or two initially, and as you become comfortable using them, and if you see positive results with your students, then you can build upon your repertoire of instructional strategies.

The following suggestions are provided based on what is currently known about the learning needs of students who have learning problems. While all of the instructional strategies included in this program are effective for students who have learning problems, several of these strategies may have the greatest impact initially. The following suggestions will assist you in getting started:

General Suggestions

1. A student practice strategy should always complement a teacher instruction strategy. Students need multiple opportunities to apply new knowledge to appropriate mathematics tasks.

2. An evaluation strategy should also be used with each lesson (in combination of instructional strategy & student practice strategy). In order to make good instructional decisions, student performance data must be available so that teachers know whether instruction is having the intended impact.

3. Instruction should occur through a concrete-to-representational-to-abstract (C-R-A) sequence for all concepts/skills. Doing so helps establish and solidify conceptual understanding.

For Teacher Instruction Strategies

4. Explicit Instruction (Teacher Modeling/Scaffolding Instruction) is one of the most powerful instructional practices for students with learning problems and should be strongly considered, particularly when new mathematics concepts/skills are introduced.

5. Facilitating Meaning Student Connections is an additional teacher instructional strategy that facilitates understanding of new concepts. Combining this strategy with Teacher Modeling/Scaffolding Instruction (Facilitating Meaningful Student Connections - Explicit Teacher Modeling -Scaffolding Instruction) creates a powerful introduction to new mathematical concepts for students with learning problems.

6. Teaching Metacognitive Strategies is a fourth powerful teacher instruction strategy, and as appropriate (field-tested metacognitive strategies have not been developed for all math concepts/skills), should also be strongly considered for initial use. Students with learning problems greatly benefit from explicit instruction of problem solving strategies.

Student Practice Strategies

7. Optimally, the use of a variety of the student practice strategies modeled in this program is most beneficial for students who have math learning problems. Remember that regardless of the student practice strategy you implement, it should always provide your students with many opportunities to practice the target math skill. Initially, you might implement the practice strategy that is most familiar to you, or the one that seems to meet the needs of your students best. As you learn about the various student practice strategies in this program, pay close attention to suggestions for when a particular student practice strategy might be most appropriate.

Evaluation Strategies

8. Dynamic Assessment is a powerful way to determine what your students understand about particular mathematical concepts. This strategy can help teachers accurately determine what and how to teach target concepts.

9. Continuous Monitoring/Charting of Student Performance Student Progress is a simple yet very valuable strategy to implement as students are learning and becoming proficient with newly introduced concepts. It can provide you and your students a "visual platform" for evaluating progress and making instructional decisions.