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A Balanced Math Program. Brendan Jeffreys. Core Principles of the Program. Time Quality Direct Instruction Repetition of Instruction and Review. Top 3 Characteristics of high performing low income schools- 1.A clear and shared focus. 2. High standards and expectations for all students.

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A balanced math program
A Balanced Math Program

Brendan Jeffreys

Core principles of the program
Core Principles of the Program

  • Time

  • Quality Direct Instruction

  • Repetition of Instruction and Review

Top 3 Characteristics of high performing low income schools-

1.A clear and shared focus.

2. High standards and expectations for all students.

3. Effective school leadership.

-OSPI, 2003

Fact practice
Fact Practice

  • Conceptual understanding of operations.

  • Strategies for solving the operation.

  • Non Competitive Practice of the strategy.

  • Once monthly timed assessment.


  • Targeted towards assessed standards.

  • Cyclical: Does not focus on one concept in a period.

  • Instruction is repeated (this should not be an independent work time!).

  • White boards and a you do, I do format of instruction is provided. Call and response utilized at all times.

Whole group instruction
Whole Group Instruction

  • Address the new concept in no longer than 30 minutes.

  • Spend more days on the concept, rather than more time in one day.

  • Work for mastery.

  • Always start conceptual and build into abstract/skill building.

  • Also done on white boards, now with an I do, we do, we do, you do format.


  • Homework assigned everyday of the week Monday through Friday.

  • Students are give 6 problems that mirror what is was taught in class that day, both from review and from the whole group lesson.

  • 4-5 of the problems are based on the in class review and only 1-2 problems are targeted towards what was taught during whole group.

  • This is adjusted as students gain more experience with and mastery of the given topic.

Intervention groups walk to math
Intervention Groups (Walk to Math)

  • Homogenous grouping.

  • Problems are targeted towards tested performance expectations.

  • Clear procedures must be set.

  • Point at which conceptual understanding and skills align with application. This is where the class work is, or should be applied.

Key elements
Key Elements

  • Visualize

    • This should be done per sentence. The intent is to help students think through each step so that when they arrive at the question the road to success is already paved.

    • In this process they should be able to write the Expression, or Procedure to use, numbers available and unavailable through either acting the problem out using taught hand gestures indicating operational meaning, or through drawing a picture to identify taught operational meanings

  • Solve

    • The very last step. Solve it, and if possible check it. Circle your answer and make sure it is labeled correctly.

Intervention groups walk to math1
Intervention Groups (Walk to Math)

  • Homogenous intervention groups of 12- 20 students occur 4 days a week for 45 minutes each day and are paced 2 weeks behind whole group instruction.

  • Groups are supported by classroom teachers, special education, and title 1 support staff.

  • Our most experienced math teachers work with our lowest groups.

  • Each week students are presented with 5 problems that are taught by the teacher to the students.

  • These problems are followed by a 5 question formative assessment mirroring what was previously taught.

  • Each week this data is submitted to an Excel spreadsheet.

A balanced math program

Flexible Math Grouping: Beginning of Year Placement

  • Collect 2 data points: screener and an additional assessment (MSP score, MBSP, etc.)

  • Rank order by screener, use additional assessment as secondary.

  • Look for natural “breaks” in the data to form groups.

  • High group of 18-24 students is ideal. Middle groups of 14-16. Low group of 10-14.

A balanced math program

Flexible Math Grouping: Instructional Focus

  • Stay 2 weeks behind core math instruction

  • Firm up skills and concepts.

  • Focus on problem solving process.

  • Provide experience with problem solving and higher level thinking type problems.

  • 300 repetitions…again.

A balanced math program

Flexible Math Grouping: Basic Schedule

  • Monday: Skills practice and review

    • Whiteboards

  • Tuesday: Model set of problems

    • Direct instruction and guided thinking

    • Problem solving process

  • Wednesday: Independent set of problems

  • Thursday: Debrief and fix

A balanced math program

Modification: Communication Deficit

  • Monday: Model

  • Tuesday: Model

  • Wednesday: Independent with partners

  • Thursday: Debrief with the partnership, partners correct -OR-

  • Score papers and split partnerships for fixes: high scorer with low scorer. Conference after fixes. -OR-

  • Write total score on top and tell partnerships to find their own errors. Conference after fixes.

A balanced math program

Modification: Tier 3

  • Monday: Review skills/model

  • Tuesday: Review skills/model

  • Wednesday: Independent

    • With “2 helps”

    • With read-aloud

    • With whole-group scaffolding

  • Thursday: Debrief (group or individual)

A balanced math program

Modification: Enrichment

  • Monday: Model

  • Tuesday: Independent/Debrief

  • Wednesday and Thursday: Challenge problems or project

A balanced math program

Modification: Enrichment

  • Monday: With partner, solve a problem and prepare to teach.

  • Tuesday: Students model problem for rest of group.

  • Wednesday: Independent/Debrief

  • Thursday: Challenge problem or project

Planning and program implementation
Planning and Program Implementation

  • Planning and teaming opportunities must occur frequently.

    • We meet to plan math everyday.

    • We re-group students for intervention every 8 weeks.

    • We give students a formative assessment after each PE is taught and provide intervention for those that do not meet standard.

  • Data must be transparent so that everyone can work collaboratively to meet the needs of all students.

How to start
How to start.

  • Think Core Content Areas and their underlying performance expectations. Plan 4-6 weeks per Core Content Area.

  • Use your district pacing chart to align your lessons to performance expectations. Be sure to allow yourself 3-4 weeks for review and practice prior to the MSP.

  • Use your district calendar to create a simple plan for when each Core Content Area, Performance Expectation, and related assessments will be given.

  • Plan daily math lessons as a team, as much as possible!

Thank you
Thank You!

Brendan Jeffreys