MATH Learning Support: Notes from a Resource Teacher

                    Table of Contents
       to link to that part of the article

1. Push-in
2. Organization
3. Assessment
4. Preparation
5.  Support
6.  MISC.

Learning Support (Resource) for Math

Math is a tricky subject. A lot of students don’t like it and a lot of adults (i.e. Learning Support teachers such as myself) say they aren’t good at it. And to top it off, while memorizing the formula for finding the area of a sphere might be in the standards, it’s not necessarily something they will need in the future.  Well…except for graduation requirements.  So as Resource (RSP) teachers we have to be especially creative and…..persistent when providing Learning Support in Math.

And graduation requirements are what pushes me so hard to spend as much time as I do supporting math teachers and students in those classes. While I sometimes think that their research skills, reading skills, language skills, character ed, etc. are more important than balancing an equation, they have to pass 3 years of high school math to graduate. And if they get behind in 8th grade, or 7th, or whenever they may not be able to hit that benchmark once they get to high school.

So I work super hard to help the students grow, and ensure their program doesn’t get modified at some time in the future. This is to say that I try to provide as much support and accommodations as possible so we don’t have to modify their math class, which can then impede them from earning a regular high school diploma.

Every year since I started teaching at international schools 8 years ago I create an ongoing doc called “Things I Do” where I list all the things I do as a Learning Support teacher so a) I don’t forget over the years, and b) I can pass it on to the next Learning Support teacher when I move on to a new country. Here is what I have in my current Things I Do doc pertaining to how I have done it the last two years as an 8th grade learning support teacher in the math classes, but I should say I have done some of these things with students and teachers from 6th grade to IB Math SL.  A lot of these are just general best practices I have developed or utilized from others to help support students in math.

Push-in Math Support

Push-in in the math class is something I do on the regular, and we do a variety of different things to support all the learners in these clustered classes.  There are 6 models of push-in/co-teacher support that I am familiar with and try to make happen on the day to day.  In the math classes I have found that we have tended to mainly do the models outlined below in a, b and c.

a) Alternate teaching

This is where some students may do other activities that are led by one of the co-teachers.

For example, we gave the students a “Developing (75 out of 100 points)” problem for graphing systems of equations and elimination. If students got both problems right they went outside and worked on the HW/classwork independently.

However, if they got the graphing wrong then they would be in one group (even if they got elimination right). And then if they got graphing right but not elimination they would be in another group.

I worked with the graphing (basic) group (which turned out to be about 80% of the class), the math teacher worked in the back of the room white board with 4 students on elimination, and then like 3 students were working in the hallway outside.

I went over some of the fundamentals, we did a practice problem, they did a problem on their own while I walked around, and then they were to work on the graphing/elimination worksheet and I would re-explain anything to a few students…..(and I also went over one of the elimination problems on the worksheet so we were on the same page).

a.1) Pull-out during class time (alternative reviews, etc.)

Sometimes I will take a small group to my room based on student request (which I often limit due to trying to keep it as inclusive as possible, but they often will ask to come over), or based on formative data, or in consultation with the teacher beforehand.

This can often happen during the second half of the 2 hour block once a week when students are doing more independent work.

It will also frequently happen when we have review days. Students like to work in my room because they can ask a lot more questions, not feel embarrassed about not understanding, it may be quieter, and ….. probably a couple other reasons.

Lastly, this pull-out time is where we do re-teaching a lot of the time.  If some students need more time on a certain standard to get to ‘meeting’ the standard, and most of the others are ready to extend or transfer their learning, we will have a small group come with me and get a very detailed/slow/explicit reteach.  

An example of this for graphing systems of equations was where I had the following stuff in a re-teach lesson:

1)  “What is the goal of systems of equations?  What are you trying to find?”

2) X and Y intercepts – “What are the two ways to find this intersection point when graphing?”

3) y = mx + b

“The m is the….?”          “The b is the ….?  How do you locate b on a graph?”

“Once you have the y-intercept how do you use the slop tofind the next point?”

“Now that you have one line, what do you do next?”

4) I Do … a problem

5) We Do … a problem

6) They Do one

Some students really benefit from this step by step walk through of what exactly they are supposed to do. I find that students often say that the regular teachers (all over the world) assume that students know why they are doing everything, so they don’t do this step by step.  And to be fair, a majority of the students are picking it up either latently, or they remember the time the teacher made the connection and that was enough, but I find that in most classes you will find 10% or a little more of students who need a very didactic, thorough approach to the content at times.

Final Note about Push-in Support in Math:

As mentioned above, the students often want to come work with me in my room but I try to limit it as much as possible and make it systematic about who comes so we don’t just have a default group every time. This is to say that while often I’d prefer to kick back in my room with a small group of students to do math, and they prefer it because it’s quieter, they can ask more questions, etc., we try to use formative assessment and pre-planned models (i.e. parallel teaching or alternative teaching of the math review sessions), rather than students being like, “Can we go work in your room today?!”  Ideally this will lead to varied groups of students in this separate environment based on their need at that time…not just the students on my caseload.

b) Stations

I make scaffolded worksheets for students to use when doing stations in math.  Here is an example for one of the stations we did when differentiating the Scientific Notations learning: 

Station Screenshot

While some students were off to Station 2 or 3, there were some students that needed this explicit step by step instruction and I was able to provide this worksheet and help these students while the classroom teacher floated through the other groups.

I should add that sometimes the stations would be directly taught by us, but sometimes you might have maybe 8 or 9 or more students at this beginning station and having these scaffolded worksheets helps them do it independtly, really get the structure of what they are doing, and get help as needed by an adult.

To further the example, after the stations day in the example above the next day we decided to make sure everyone finished the 3 stations (e.g. 30 math problems in total) and knew what was up before they moved on to the lesson we had that day for word problems (i.e. application of the skills). About 12 students didn’t have it done so we made sure they did that before moving on. I think it was a really good choice because these were the basic sort of level 1 of the content and they would have been totally stuck with the word problems if we hadn’t fully assured they were ready, which is hard when you have common assessments and pacing with other math teachers in the grade and you are feeling the pressure to keep it going.  But when differentiating with stations you are able to really see where students are at and help accordingly.

c) One Teach One Support

This is the standard go-to model and it happens more than I would like.  But I think that partly fits into how math is done around the world.  A lot of math instruction I have seen in several countries boils down to the I Do, We Do, You Do (i.e. practice problems).  So in that context this model of co-teaching jumps right in.

However, it is prudent for me to try to push for more models in order to support as many learners as possible.  I did a presentation recently at the Live Curious Go Beyond conference where I went into more detail about the 6 models of push-in.  Check it out here:

This is an image that has all the 6 co-teaching models. ONe teach, one assist; Parallel teaching; team teaching; stations; alternative teaching; one teach, one observe.

In addition to the push-in models outlined above, here are a few more things I do as it relates to push-in:

d) While inside the push-in class

– To help with behavior and make sure the students are giving maximal effort I give  warnings and then make up time to help students remain focused (3rd warning is 20 minutes make up time)

–  Differentiate the HW during class by circling some problems that some students must do, which means that they don’t have to do the others if they don’t get to it or don’t understand.  This can be because we are focusing on foundational content before moving on, or for others who are cognitively higher, but process slower, I will cut some things out so they don’t spend forever on HW.

– Develop Study Guide questions for assessments  (i.e. based on what questions and       misunderstandings I am seeing in the class).

e) Differentiated classwork 

One way we do it is that ahead of time I put together a scaffolded classwork worksheet that takes the regular worksheet, but does things like step by step by step prompts on what to do, and explains a little bit, and sometimes uses ‘friendlier numbers’.

This is a screeenshot of a scaffolded worksheet we used to help students that can not independently do the graphing of the equation.
Part of a worksheet we did for students who couldn’t graph the equation independently in a warm-up

This can be used either during the course of the independent work time when we see that students are struggling with the first few problems, or we have it where they do it based on a formative assessment.  Or they can just choose it (i.e. like that one student used yours the first time for Unit 4 Lesson 6 and at the end of class he said that my version “is so much easier” so he chooses it more often in the future).

Another way we do the scaffolded worksheets is we will have a PTT (Warm up) that day, or an Exit Ticket the day before and I will grade those and if students didn’t pass the exit ticket then I had a scaffolded worksheet on that problem (so they get instant feedback while other students are doing that days lesson), and then the worksheet has one or two more similar problems and they have to master before moving on with that days class work. 

If they still aren’t 100%, then the classroom teacher and myself can give feedback real quick.  If after that point they still don’t get it, they have to come in for a study session within 24 hours.



Math Support

Organization…as a Learning Support teacher, or Resource teacher, it is imperative that you are highly organized.  Not only so you can do all the little facets of your job and be effective as possible, but also so you can help the students on your caseload be as effective as possible so they can use their strengths to their advantage.

Because of that imperative I wanted to have this section to outline some ways I work with organization as a Learning Support teacher in math….both for myself and for the students.  It’s not super detailed, but there are a few things I wanted to share.

a) One of the first ways I try to keep things organized is by having every unit’s resources in my hard drive in a very organized fashion:

Unit Folder - Math

This helps me be prepared during the unit, and also is very helpful the next year when we are going at it again.  For example if you have a student on a To-Do Sheet and they ask for or need a little extra work then you can quickly find relevant problems for them to do either from the previous year’s classwork, HW, or the study guide you made.

This means I save all Powerpoint Lesson presentations into my folder (sent from teacher or downloaded from the Learning Management System).  I also save all Homeworks and classwork docs and the answers.

This may seem like common sense, but in my early years of co-teaching I was so all over the place with different courses, grade levels, needs, etc. that I wasn’t always as organized as I wanted to be, and seeing how I do it now makes such a big difference.

b)  I am starting to have a weekly lesson plan doc for one class so I can make sure I properly plan some re-teachings, small groups, etc.

Push-in Planner

c) Have a regular weekly meeting with the teacher, or as needed/when possible, and type up the notes taken during the meeeting from the memo pad and put into your meeting notes template, and print out and put in math folder so you can check off the next steps things.

Screenshot mtg notes

I should mention that meeting regularly is not always easy, and as time goes on and you are working with the same teacher, the necessity lessons, but ideally I try to meet at least for 5 to 10 minutes a week to check-in and reflect and look forward.

d) Meeting Notes

In my (math) notebook throughout the week I usually jot down things that I want to discuss when we do meet, and then we meet on Fridays when possible and from there I will type up all that into the meeting notes template.

I have a sticky note on the page where I am keeping the notes for that week.

e) ATLAS Rubicon (unit planning)

This is a great online unit planning resource that the last few schools I have worked at have.  It is great for organizing units, collaborating with other teachers, and housing everything for future use and reference.

Here is an example of how I have added some of my Learning Support things to the most recent unit on Systems of Equations:


And here is another part where we have decided that I will put my Learning Support things in blue:

ATLAS 2nd image

Here is a link to a presentation I gave about how I use ATLAS as a Learning Support Teacher:


Assessment is a huge topic in the math class, moreso than comes up with the Spanish teachers, or Social Studies, or English. We tend to have weekly quizzes that lead to summatives so there is that cycle constantly going on.

One key thing that has come from this time is the idea that as much as we differentiate in the day to day, we have to differentiate the assessments too. We have done it a lot of ways and as we have moved into Standards Based Grading our ideas have shifted even more. But here is a presentation I did at the ASOMEX Principal’s Leadership Conference that outlines how we differentiate assessments:

But let me list all the notes from my Things I Do doc about assessment (in not too much of a particular order):

a) Low Assessment Scores

We have RE-TEACHING WORKSHEETS/LESSONS for students that score below a 2 out of 4 on a quiz (e.g. not yet meeting standard).

They are very similar to the scaffolded work mentioned elsewhere, but these activities also might work on definitions and more higher level  short answer questions to get them really understanding what they are doing. For example, instead of just saying ‘is the slope negative or positive?’ I would say, ‘how can you look at the slope and know that it’s negative?’ This really gets them thinking about things that may just come naturally to some learners. Or the teacher mentions it once and 70% of the students get it, but not everyone.

Also, sometimes we will ask student to come to MANDATORY STUDY TIME for a set amount of time based on how many standards they scored low on and how low. Or we recommend it based on those parameters and we email home so parents know what’s cooking.

Here’s a blog post that outlines how I use parent support, mandatory study time and other things to help with getting students to do their best:  HERE

b) Study Guide Rule

Students must finish the study guide given by teacher, or by me (heavily scaffolded version with step by step answer key).  People last year (and this year) didn’t always finish study guides, or barely started, and many people failed the first tests partly as a result.

Rule: if you don’t finish the study guide, and you get below a 75 on the assessment, you will have one hour of mandatory study time until your next unit test grade is higher than a 75. This is to help them put in that study time.

Side note: Students have the option to retake assessments at my school but sometimes the teacher has said that if they don’t have the study guide complete on test day then there is no retake. This is because if they didn’t put the work in beforehand we aren’t too surprised they didn’t score well enough on the assessment to not want to do the retake.

c) Differentiating quizzes

– In order to remember to look at upcoming quizzes and see how we can differentiate (e.g. see the presentation linked at the beginning of this section for overview of what this means), I have this note in my digital calendar every week on Thursdays:  “Differentiate for Math Quiz yet?  See what’s up”

When I make changes to problems in the original assessment I use the PhotoMath app, (as I encourage the students to do), to check the changes I made to make sure the problems are chill and solveable

– And of course you have to figure out accommodations (i.e. calculator accomm, notes about formulas, etc.) as you are going through this process (i.e. discuss with teachers about what they are down with and what makes sense given the standards).

– I make an answer key to shoot to the teacher

– I generally outline on the original rubric any changes that have been made and make notes about whether it is something that doesn’t change their ability to reach the standard, or maybe it’s differentiated based on readiness and so their ability to reach a ‘meeting standard’ is hindered, so I will note that.  Sometimes this is based on pre-arranged ideas, sometimes we have to chat about things like, if I cut out the decimal and just leave whole numbers is that still meeting the standard, or developing?

d) Study Guide and Leveled tests

Ask students who wants to do the LEVEL 1 TEST (enough to pass with an 80 or 85%) and then give them a STUDY GUIDE I create (with help from the teachers study guide at times) and it focuses on the Level 1 and 2 concepts, but not the Level 3 concepts because we don’t want them to move on until they have the lower levels at a proficient level.

Most students understand where their level is, but I might urge some students who really need to focus on the basics first but are gung ho to get a 100 to focus on the Level 1 test or studying for the basics.

Here are some key things about the STUDY GUIDE:

– While looking at all the classroom materials like presentations and HW I take notes about TIPS and HINTS and add those as guides and what not in the study guide

-they have far less problems than the regular study guide, but they go into more depth so the intention is that the students are really understanding the concepts

– I add guiding questions and comprehension questions like in this screenshot right here:


– I try to add vocab when applicable


– I work on some of the study guide ideas while in the push-in class and there are lectures going on

– One math teacher and I have it where when he says everyone has to finish his study guide, the students who are struggling (who are on my caseload) have to fill out the scaffolded study guide at the minimum, and some of his if they have time.  Whereas if the students haven’t been identified to need any support, they will have to finish all of the regular study guide

– The ANSWER KEY has step by step instructions and reminds them of rules they learned, usually color-coded…has arrows to show connections (i.e. from adding exponents).  Students have said that it’s super helpful when they are working independently.

                    Here’s an example of a solved problem in the Answer Key:


NOTE:  It takes forever to make these, partly due to the formatting and typing up all the hints and stuff, but it’s worth it when you have students telling their friends about how helpful they are and you have random students asking for one in the hallway, or sending you an email on a Sunday afternoon asking for one for Monday’s test!

e) Work with teachers to create the DIFFERENT LEVELS of assessments

This is where we look at what they need to reach each level of our 4 point rubric (or different percentages before we weren’t on our standards-based grading system).

What do they need to do to pass an assessment with the lowest grade?

Or in other words, what is the lowest amount of knowledge that they need to acquire about the standard to show that they have learned an acceptable amount to pass?

How do they show that they ‘meet the standard’?

This is where we focus on the key standards and eliminate other factors on the test that could get in the way of the students showing us their knowledge of the key standard (i.e. taking away negatives, making triple digit numbers into double digit, taking word problems and just extracting the equations that they are looking to solve, etc.).

With the students I call it the “Essentials Assessment”.  I tell them that they should do this until there grade is an 80 or 85%, and then we can start doing the regular test…but I don’t hold them to that, just strongly recommend it.

NOTE:  We have also been moving more towards having the whole assessment leveled like is often the case in math.  But there have been many occasions when maybe there are just a lot of fractions and negative numbers and students have gaps in those areas so if we didn’t differentiate the test they would fail every test and not show us what they know with the standards.

f) Assessment Corrections (and RETAKES)

I have this process for classes that students aren’t allowed retakes and for those that they are. I like to do Assessment Corrections to either push a student to study better next time, and help them reflect, but also to help them if they are going to take a retake.

Here’s how part of it looks.  This is the main section where they have to redo the problems:

Here’s a link to the Google Doc version:

The main sections to complete are 1 and 3 if we need to streamline it a bit.

Generally what I do is if the students take the assessment with me, I make a copy of their finished assessment before I give it to the teacher, this way I can correct it real quick and we can start the test corrections process that Monday or Tuesday, instead of waiting until Thursday when they get their test back.

Also while correcting it I will often write notes on there for them, and add notes to their Student Excel file that talks about strengths or challenges, and then when we do the test corrections during resource pull out class, or Study Time or another time, they can use my notes so I can work with multiple students at a time, and also so I can remember exactly what their mistake was.

It’s helpful to have a systematic way to reflect and re-study, so that’s why I like this Assessment Corrections process.


In looking at my Word doc of Things I Do I am surprised that I only have a note about the calculator accommodation.  Let me list off some of the common accommodations that we use real quick.  I should mention that as time goes on every year I endeavor to have the students ask for accommodations they need ahead of time, not just expect me to take care of everything.  This helps them to develop their understaning of their needs, self-advocacy and self-determination.

Here are some of the common accomms we use: 

– test in alternative setting

– extra time

– reduced work (i.e. HW, some assessments)

– format changed on test (i.e. one problem per page)

– seating in the class (i..e might come up if a teacher doesn’t want to change their seating arrangement)

– allow retakes (e.g. give students more time to learn a concept for example)

– differentiated assessments (i.e. cut out fractions, use friendlier numbers, level it to have the minimum for a 75, a 92, etc.)

– allow formulas and maybe other aides written down if it doesn’t conflict with the standard

– I am encouraging students to use the CALCULATOR accommodation if they need it.  This is to avoid making simple arithmetic mistakes, or taking too much cognitive load to do basic math.  This is only mainly for the 4 basic functions at this point (plus, minus, multiply, and divide)

I also have special calculators in my room for this express purpose (i.e. other functions are taped off).

In summary I would say that these all don’t happen easily right from the gate.  It takes the building of trust and the building of the co-teaching relationship in order to get to a point where both teachers understand why we are doing certain accommodations, that they are non-negotiable…but we should chat about it and dial it in, how the accomm interacts with the standard, etc.

This is all to say that you can’t start a co-teaching relationship and do all these accommodations right off the bat, in my opinion and experience.  But as the days go by and you have your regular meetings, and you support kids on the daily, these accommodations will get worked out and you will get to a point where it will take little to no discussion to do any of these supportive actions.

How I Stay PREPARED for the Math Support

Preparation is just about how I do certain things to be prepared for the class overall, both inside and out of class time.

a) Print out one or two copies of each Powerpoint (presentation) lesson

I do this in the handout form with 3 slides per page and the notes area. Then I review the Powerpoints ahead of time and write notes for tips and strategies and things I can follow up with with the students or in the Study Guide.

This is part of the ‘dogfooding’ that Jennifer Gonzalez talked about in this linked Cult of Pedagogy article. By going through the lectures and doing some of the practice problems I can get a fresh perspective of the content and can sometimes get epiphanies for how I can help support the students.

b) Preparing for a new unit (year 2 with the same teachers)

I have all the resources I created in ATLAS Rubicon, in my hard drive, and paper stuff in my file cabinet. I review the ATLAS and my files first to get a feel for what supports were needed the previous year, what things/supports I can develop further (i.e. re-teaching worksheets, study guides, etc.), and start getting things together and talking or emailing teachers for the upcoming unit.

Then I go through all my paper files and look at notes I took, review some of the student work samples, look at the assessments and go from there (this is especially salient in the Linear Equations and Systems of Equations units as they are the hardest of the year and are weighted heavily).

c) (I try to) Preview all classwork beforehand

I even print out some worksheets and have answers, or formulas developed (i.e. for word problems) so while I’m in class I can quickly tell a cat if they got an answer right (i.e. “Mr., is this right?”) or need to keep it moving and I can support them quicker.

When doing the classwork before the push-in class it helps me understand the little ins and outs of the problems so I don’t look like I don’t know, and moreso, so I can help the students out most effectively (all students)

d) Print out a copy of each HW also

This is so you can help students easily (and in an organized fashion) when doing re-teaching, re-test reviews, studying on the weekend, etc.

I work out all steps of all HW problems (or at least at times) so I can get a fresh perspective of the struggles the students may face and can work out tips and strategies (i.e. dogfooding)

e) Have coordinate graphs (dot paper) printed out so we can easily work out problems       (PYTHAGOROUS UNIT)

f) Put posters on wall (or on white board) with coordinate grids so we can practice them out also (PYTHAGOURS UNIT)

g) Identify Key Understandings and Foundational Skills

Identify foundational skills in the upcoming unit (through using Unit Plan, looking at assessments, talking to teachers, etc.) and then work with the students on the to-do sheets, during resource (pull-out) time, or the Study Time to work on these and use strategies to help suport this growth.

Example….with the Linear Functions unit they have to be adept at one and two step equations in order to do well, but many are struggling. So we are doing work on worksheets I am giving them, having them go step by step and show all work, check answers, mark like terms, etc.

SUPPORTS I use as Resource Teacher

Support comes in all shapes and sizes, and I tried to capture all that I could, but I’m sure I could have added more.  However, here are the things I had in my Things I Do Word doc:

Logo of Photomath

a) PhotoMath App

I introduce this great app to the students early on and have them practice using it.  It takes pictures of math problems (typed or written) and shows you the answer and the steps.

  You can also input the problems like a calculator.  It’s a great tool for students to check their work when they don’t have an answer key, or when the answer key doesn’t have the steps, and there isn’t someone there to readily help them.

b) KahootKahoot Math Review Screenshot of the game.

We use this in prep for a test in SES (pull out) class sometimes.  Sometimes I will take a dense study guide and put questions into Kahoot.  Then to spice it up I offer prizes like 2 passes to the winner, and one pass to second place.

It’s a fun way to do a review.  The students want the review in general, but get bogged down by didactic, boring things, but with Kahoot they get pumped up.

c) Make cheat sheet note cards like for “Rules of Integers Cheat Sheet”

Slope Intercept Form NOTES…and have it color coded, shaped right on the page (i.e. format), examples, defs, and print out on card stock sometimes so it’s more durable for keeping in the notes.

d) Facilitating TUTORS

After a student has an hour or two of study time with me each week, but they may still need some additional help, they may end up getting a tutor and I can link up with them and help.  I should say that I try to do all the collaboration with the teachers, work on student effort, push-in support, pull out support, accommodations in full effect, etc. before I would ever recommend a tutor.  But some students come with tutors or parents get them on their own volition.

Also, sometimes the students have big gaps in prior math knowledge and the teacher or parent wants tutoring sooner and we can work with that and I can help facilitate.

 I work with tutors in varying capacities, but have worked on giving them areas to work with for gaps, and then I do content support, and I relay that to parents so they know.  Or I just tell some tutors to hit me up if they have any questions or suggestions.

 I also tell them about the To-Do sheet process and ask them to add things to the To-Do sheet at times so the students can continue practicing the concepts if that’s what the tutor thinks they could use to grow.

e) Study Time

Since things get harder as the year transpires, if they score below a 60 on the first math assessment they will have to start with one hour of mandatory Study Time each week.  And if for some reason they already have Study Time, they will get another 30 to 60 minutes a week added to it.

They can see me or the math teacher, or an outside tutor to get it signed off, and they can come at access class (study hall), breaks, after school, etc.

This is a key area to work on because so many students aren’t doing any HW, or are doing it inconsistently, and aren’t studying or doing study guides, so this helps us get a baseline for what they are able to do when they give the basic effort in the class.

f) Make playlists on Youtube and/or Khan Academy classes

Students can do these over breaks or on their to-do sheets.

I can just prescribe individual videos, or sets, or set up a coaching situation/Class and have them do a bunch of videos in the case of Khan.

This works good with Khan because I can track their progress and get weekly updates too, and it’s a little gamified with points, tracking, and badges so they like that at times.

g) TO-DO Sheets 

– have the students check answers of homework and make corrections as needed

Here is an image of a to-do sheet for math. It has all the different steps like checking answers, using answer key, etc. Best practices in student support in studying for math.
Example of a template I use with some students

NOTE: You are thinking of using Russ’s process at some point where they put a check next to questions they got right on the HW, a check with a circle if they got it wrong but fixed it, and a star if they couldn’t figure it out.  This will really help students take ownership and help with their self-advocacy as they get support.

– have them check answers of in-class work (when they are doing the labs and stuff from the book)

– remind them to use a calculator on some things

– I also keep blank to-do sheets in my red folder I bring to class every day and will fill out things they can do outside of class while I get ideas during class

– I also add some tips and steps to the HW the teacher assigns (i.e. write down the formula for every step, draw the diagram, etc.)

h) Resources in my room

– for Pythagoras unit I had a white board in my room with a 5 by 5 dot grid with tape over the dots so that we could practice plotting, finding area, etc.

– make sure to have graph paper in my room

– Negative numbers rules cards

– rulers

– four-function calculators, and graphing

– worksheets that are scaffolded (i.e linear equations one step, two step, with one fraction, etc.)….so I can give targeted practice on demand

– Have two number lines in my room that are kinda big.  One is blank and one is filled in from -20 to 20.  Students use this sometimes when trying to solve problems and they aren’t clear on the signs. Or I will have a student use this, or will use it with them, if I see they are struggling with the signs.

i) Scaffolded worksheets

I have been giving them one and two step equation worksheets starting in January to help with Linear Functions unit.  They have come to be used in the to-do sheets, SES (pull-out Resource class) from time to time, and also in place of HW from time to time (i.e. when the HW is a little higher level than their skills of even knowing how to solve the problems).

I have also put in step by step processes in some of them and they have to do them so they memorize the foundational skills or steps they need to do their thing with equations.

j) Studying

Sometimes I will have a study session in my room at lunch (or after school) if they have a retake coming up.  I will try to fit this into taking detention time off, but also in the pursuit of just doing better on the retake.

I do things like choose difficult problems that they are struggling with, have them go step by step by step to solve the practice problems, etc.

k) Basketball Review

Basketball Review Image
Basketball Review….crumple the paper and you have a B-ball

I used to do this when I was teaching Special Day Classes and the students really enjoyed this activity.  I haven’t done it so much in the pull-out class because we have so many things that we are working on that I always feel crunched for time.  But recently I had a student doing make up time at lunch or after school and I wanted to make a deal to get his time taken off so I invented a game where I put a pen on it’s head and the student has to knock it over in mid-air with another pen.  If he knocks it over before I did, taking turns, then he gets a bunch of time taken off his make up time.

You should have seen this sullen student who is failing several classes start to become animated and almost giggling and smiling.  As soon as I saw that I was like, “You need to bring this energy into your pull-out class soon”, and I thought “Basketball vocab review!”

So I adapted it to fit into the unit study guide review process and it was fun!

Here’s how it works:

Step 0: Make sure students have the unit study guide (digital)

Step 1: Draw the paper with four boxes/quadrants of the paper labeled 1-4 on the whiteboard……make sure all students do that (see image above).

Step 2:  To the right of your image, write:


Box 2:

Box 3:

Box 4:

Step 3:  Explain to the students that they will be directed to put something in Box 1 (i.e. math problem) and then they will crumple the paper and take a shot in the recycling bin.

Step 4: Then they will pick a paper up and do what is written in Box 1 on the whiteboard (i.e. definition of vocab word)

– this is where you walk around and give tips, scaffold, answer questions, etc.
-then we will get volunteers to read their question and answer it.

Step 5:  Once they are done they will write something in Box 2 (i.e. a vocab word or math problem from study guide).

They  will crumple the paper and take a shot.

Everyone will pick a piece up and do what I wrote on the board to do for Box 2

 – this is where you walk around and give tips, scaffold, answer questions, etc.
…. then we will get volunteers to read their question and answer it.

      When everyone is done we will take a shot, get the paper, and answer box 2

Repeat steps!

The only difference is that I will work out the problems on the board real quick and get help from students who want to volunteer or just guide a bit.

Final Shot….from across the room, you get a pass if you make it.  If I make it, you get 10 minutes of detention…if I miss…ten minutes of free time


Box1:  Vocab – pick a vocab word and put it in the box. The person that picks up your paper will put a definition and draw it.

Box 2: Pick one of the questions in the study guide that is written in sentence form and copy it down here (“Go through the whole study guide b/c there are many”)

Box 3: Pick a math problem from the study guide and put it in this box.  Put it in the very top so they can show all steps when solving

Box 4: Same as box 3


MISC. things to Support Students in Math

Some miscellaneous things that didn’t fit in the categories above are:

a) Student-Centered Log

Sometimes with students who I am working with a little extra in the push-in class, but aren’t on my caseload, I will open a Student-Centered Log and put things that me and the teacher are doing and then send the link to the teacher so they can add things like parent contact, interventions they have done, accomms, etc.

This is a Tier 1 process for collecting data and planning next steps.  It’s just a shared document where we can show how we are supporting students who are struggling in their math class.

b) Helping with systems

For example, when we were discussing the system for assessment retakes I came through with a remix of my After School card that could be used to track student studying of standards.

Or when looking at students not doing Homework I came through with some ideas of how we could track HW with HW checks and I volunteered to help track it and hold students accountable.

c) Communication

When I email parents about not doing to-do sheets, needing more mandatory study time, tutors, possible meetings, etc., I CC the math teacher so they either stay in the loop, or they already know, but just keeping everyone on the same page.

d) The “WHY?”

A big thing I consider is helping students understand the “WHY?” of the problems they are doing…hoping that that will help them with retention.  This is what I build into the re-teaches, study guides, and other places.

e) Checking the effectiveness of interventions

I can’t believe I forgot to mention this until I saw it in my Things I Do sheet.  I guess that’s why I have the doc!

At any rate, I have this spreadsheet with a tab for all the students who are on my caseload, or my radar in the class, and I track their assessment progress.  I put a yellow highlighted cell to indicate when we started interventions (which are documented in their student file or student-centered log), and I plan next steps based on the data.  This has proved very valuable for my interactions with students, parents, and in conversations with the teacher.

NOTE:  In case you were wondering about why each assessment can have so many scores, we are doing the Standards-Based Grading and the scores below are the scores for each standard.

Here is a progress monitoring document for math learning support that shows quiz and test scores, notes about the student, etc.
Example of progress monitoring for one student


Whoa, I didn’t realize that this was going to be so long. I wanted to turn my Word doc of Things I Do into this blog post because there was a lot of stuff for math there, but I didn’t realize that it was this much.  I hope it was helpful.

Just a couple final thoughts.

Here’s a link to my goals for this year as a special educator (Learning Support teacher).  I wanted to drop this here becasue there are several math things there that may give a further perspective on how to support math:  LINK

 Please leave any questions in the comments section

And also share any best practices you are doing

By the way, if you were wondering from the intro, where I wondered when a student will need to know the area of a sphere, the area for a sphere is found by taking 4 times pi times the radius cubed…I think


3 thoughts on “MATH Learning Support: Notes from a Resource Teacher

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