Tag Archives: intervention

IXL.com – Excellent Tool for Differentiation

IXL.com is a site that provides online practice for math (and other topics). It has a hidden feature that allows for very effective differentiation. This can be highly useful in a general ed math class and in settings for special education services. This includes special ed settings with students working on a wide ranges of math topics, for algebra students who missed a lot of class or enter the course with major gaps, and for the general algebra population to meet the range of needs. IXL can be used before the lesson or after, for intervention.


By way of example, assume you have a student or students working on graphing a linear function using an XY table (image below). Using a task analysis approach, this topic can be broken up into smaller parts: completing an XY table, plotting points and drawing the line, interpreting what all of this means. I will focus on the first two in this post.


IXL has math content for preschool up to precalculus. For the topic of graphing (shown above) many of the steps are covered in earlier grades. For example, plotting points is covered in 3rd grade (level E), 4th grade (level F), and 6th grade (Level H). To prepare students for the graphing linear functions, they can be provided the plotting points assignments below to review or fill in gaps.

The tables used to graph are covered starting in 2nd grade (level D) and up through 6th grade (level H). These can also be assigned to review and fill in gaps.

When it is time to teach the lesson on graphing a linear function, IXL scaffolds all of the steps. For example, the image below in the top left keeps the rule simple. The top right image below shows that the students now have an equation in lieu of a “rule.” The bottom image below shows no table. All 3 focus on only positive values for x and y before getting into negatives.

The default setting on IXL is to show the actual grade level for each problem. I did not want my high school students know they were working on 3rd grade math so I made use of a feature on IXL to hide the grade levels (below), which is why you see Level D as opposed to Grade 2.

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Summer Math Intervention Sessions


A graduate level math intervention course at USJ has a practicum component in which graduate students work 1 on 1 with students with special needs over a 5 week period. An experienced math interventionist oversees the work. The focus of the sessions is on an identified math objective selected by the family or teacher of the student with special needs in math (students with IEP or 504, who are receiving extra services like SRBI, who are below grade level or who have a history of struggling with math)

Each graduate student, in collaboration with the supervising instructor, conduct initial assessment, implement a variety of instructional strategies and conduct ongoing progress monitoring and provide lots of objective data!


The sessions run 5-6PM every Thursday from July 12 to August 9 at the USJ campus.


  • Parents are provided objective data from curriculum based assessments that can be provided to the home school educators.
  • Parents are provided a portfolio of an array of instructional strategies. This could provide insight for the home school educators on what works for the student with special needs.
  • Parents observe the sessions to gain first hand knowledge of how their student with special needs engages in math and knowledge of what effective math services look like.
  • At the end, the graduate student will meet 1 on 1 with the parents to explain the assessment data and instructional strategies and will provide a comprehensive report.
  • At the end, the instructor will meet with parents to explain how to leverage the information provided by the graduate students with the home school educators, especially PPT or 504 teams.

Next Step

If you are interested, please contact Randy Ewart (email address below). Note: these sessions are designed to benefit both the student with special needs and the graduate students. Hence, families who participate are expected to attend all 5 sessions.


The instructor is Randy Ewart, a veteran math teacher and math interventionist who received his master’s in special education at USJ. He has provided consultation and services to multiple districts and over 100 students with special needs to make math accessible. You can visit his blog for examples of his work: www.ctspedmathdude.com. Email him at ctspedmathdude@gmail.com

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RTI – Response to Intervention

RTI Process

The photo above shows a model of the RTI (called SRBI in Connecticut) process. RTI is a systematic approach to addressing student academic needs. Here is a link to a video explaining the process and below is an outline of the process:

  1. Students are served in a classroom that provides high quality initial instruction. This includes the use of UDL, differentiation, formative assessment, instructional strategies to make content meaningful and concrete and to meet student needs in general. The general classroom is Tier I.
  2. Assessment is used to evaluate student progress AND the effectiveness of the instruction. If students are not understanding a math topic or unit (as demonstrated by data not observation) the student can be moved into Tier II which involves intensified focus of instruction and in a small group.
  3. Assessment is used again. If the student is not making sufficient progress despite changes in instruction the student can be moved into Tier III which involves maybe 1 on 1 or 1 teacher and 2 students. The level of intensity is ramped up further.

Here are a couple of key components:

  • The initial classroom includes an effort to meet individual needs.
  • Data is the key to decision-making. Assessment is objective.
  • The programming is evaluated using the data.
  • RTI is included in IDEA 2004.
  • Student placement at the different tiers is fluid. Students are moved into and out of tiers based on data.
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