Math can be a scary and unsuccessful struggle for some students when they attack it the conventional way with pencil and paper. They have difficulties understanding mathematical concepts which soon lead to feelings of confusion and personal doubts of intelligence. They have no desire to try and give up all hope of ever learning or understanding mathematical concepts. Using a computer math program with a response to intervention is the optimum way to entice these students to try math again and build their confidence and skills at the same time. Children believe computers are fun but so is math; therefore, combining the two is a wise decision for teachers and parents who need strategies to help math weaklings.
Intervention in Tiers or Levels
There are three levels or tiers of response to intervention that parents and educators use to help struggling students. Using a computer math program that utilizes the RTI or Response to Intervention model is a positive method for engaging mathematically weak children. This three tiered approach aids struggling learners at increasing levels of intensity using the differentiated instruction theory and automatically adjusts the lesson based on the user’s skills. Playing a game is fun, and research shows that children are more accepting to learning when they are having fun.
Tier 1 Intervention: Helping Minor Problems in Math
Tier 1, or Benchmark, is designed for a child who can complete mathematical concepts most of the time but may experience minor or temporary setbacks. In this tier, your child is assessed and the game adjusts depending on the response pace and answer accuracy. Positive feedback from the game keeps the child on task and propels him or her to feel a greater sense of accomplishment. Then, as the child improves, the game increases in difficulty giving the child more challenging puzzles and problems to solve. Skill development improves, and the problems which placed the child in tier 1 quickly vanish. The child views the computer game as a fun and exciting task. Enthusiasm for math begins to build as well as skills and conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts.
Tier 2 Intervention: Working Up to Grade Level
The second tier, Strategic, serves those children who work below grade level and require systematic and specific instructional support. In this tier, the computer game quickly identifies user weaknesses and immediately begins to work on those weaknesses. Even though a teacher can easily identify the student needs, the computer game is more engaging to the child than completing a math problem with pencil and paper. It holds a student’s attention, something a top-notch teacher may have difficulty doing. Yet, a top teacher will immediately know how valuable a computer math game can be for these types of students.
Tier 3 Intervention: Avoiding Failure
For students who are at a serious risk of failure, they are classified as Intensive or tier 3. These students have a long history of low performance and consistently struggle with mathematical concepts. Many times these students struggle with very low confidence and because they have a history of math failure, they view any attempts at math as a waste of time and effort. Luckily for them, computer math games offer a new approach for learning the concepts they lack. These students become interested quite quickly in a game that offers differentiated learning. Since the game adapts to their skill levels, they begin to respond with correct responses more frequently. This, in turn, leads to conceptual development of math. They become excited about learning and gain a new found confidence in their abilities to solve problems.
Choose a math computer game that responds to intervention and uses differentiated instruction at all levels of learning, especially for those students who struggle with mathematical concepts. Intervening and halting difficulties with math is the only way to prevent problems from escalating and become overwhelming for the child and parent. A computer math program that challenges a child at an appropriate level and consistently changes as skills improve is fun for the child but most importantly, motivating.