Designing Effective Upper Elementary Math Lessons With the Intervention Student in Mind

Learn how to utilize the gradual release model to effectively scaffold instruction for all students and, in particular, the students that typically need intervention.

How do you design math lessons that are sure to reach your students that typically need intervention?  One way that I have found is extreme success with is using the gradual release model (Douglas Fisher).  Students need structure, repeated practice, and the opportunity to show that they have learned and can do the work independently.  I typically refer to this approach as the "I Do, We Do, You Do" model and it is a way to provide a scaffold to those students that need a little more help.



I Do


Teacher models how to tackle the types of problems presented.

This portion of the lesson is teacher driven.  The teacher models a very specific skill.
In this portion of the lesson, the teacher hones in on one skill or teaching point and explicitly models how to do this skill.

We Do


Students work in pairs or small groups to practice (with teacher guidance) the problem similar to the ones done during the I Do.

After the teacher has modeled how to do the skill, students enter the we do stage also known as guided practice.  Teachers monitor the room while students work in pairs or small groups to tackle similar types of problems.  The teacher provides prompting and questions the students in a way that checks their level of understanding.  He/She also notes on a sticky note students who are not ready for independent practice and pulls them aside for reteach while sending the rest of the students on to do the independent practice.  Do you need engagement strategies that also check for understanding? I recommend the book
Checking for Understanding: Formative Assessment Techniques for Your Classroom by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey.

You Do


Design your lesson so that intervention students experience success!

Independently, students practice the skill that they just learned.  This is the time for students to show what they know.  The teacher simultaneously pulls the students that are not quite ready for independent practice and reteaches the mini lesson (I Do) again using an alternate approach to what they did the first time.  This might include using more visuals, tapping into manipulatives,  or using technology.  Sometimes, reteach simply needs to be guiding them through another problem, so it is important to have a few back-up questions that are similar to those in the independent practice problems.

If you are looking for this lesson you can find it here.
Utilize the gradual release model using this step-by-step lesson.


I also have a Bundle that has a teaching PowerPoint too that pairs perfectly with this and will save you a ton of time!
Bundle the teaching PowerPoint and the worksheets together to save time and money!