Online Course: Numeracy and LD - Instructional Strategies

Math teacher - Rick, from the courseUse this discussion thread to explore thoughts on how the information on instructional strategies that address problems in learning math content from the Numeracy Instruction and Adults with Learning Disabilities online course might impact your professional practice.

Post a 'Reply' with your thoughts, using the following questions to guide your reflections:

  • Which specific instructional approaches/strategies from the course do you want to try? Why? What might you need to be successful?
  • Regarding instructional approaches/strategies from the course: What questions would you like to discuss with peers? What topics or ideas would you like to learn more about?

To enhance your understanding: Read and reply to other participants' posted plans. Check back to this page, or subscribe to this post to read and reply to others' responses or thoughts on your plan.


Which specific instructional approaches/strategies from the course do you want to try? Why? What might you need to be successful?

I currently use learner-centered math instruction, explicit instruction, specific strategy, scaffolded, intensive, and structured instruction in my adult education classroom.

Explicit instruction is probably used the most out of the instruction strategies listed above in my classroom. The strategy that I would like to learn more about and use more is strategy instruction. I do use some mnemonics in my instruction (PEMDAS) and for the most part students seem to remember and do well with it. I found the word STAR and how it is used to evaluate a problem very interesting and will use it in the future. I would love to learn about more mnemonics that could be useful in helping my students in mathematics.

Regarding instructional approaches/strategies from the course: What questions would you like to discuss with peers? What topics or ideas would you like to learn more about?

It would be very interesting to see what methods of instruction that other adult educators use the most and with what strategies or methods they see the most success with. I would also like to know of any words like (PEMDAS and STAR) and other educators use to help students remember mathematical processes.


Which particular approaches/strategies from the course do you want to try?

Although I use many of the strategies mentioned in session 4 to one degree or another, a couple of things struck a chord with me.  The "schaffolding" approach was interesting because I had never deliberately thought of it as "I do; We do; You do."  I love the routine and order of that thinking.  It's a great concept to keep in mind as I'm planning and a good thing to keep in mind as I reflect on how things are going or why they may not be going well.  The second thing I plan on incorporating into my teaching is that of patterns.  Pointing out patterns or having the students discover the patterns in the multiplication table, fractions, or any number of concepts, would take the learning process to another level and allow the students to gain a deeper understanding of math. The simplicity in both of these ideas would surely make them easy for the teacher to use and for the students to latch onto and remember.

The "I do; We do; You do"  approach is from the Learning-to- Achieve project and is a very successful strategy.   Our goal as facilitator is to move the student from dependence to independence, which is a shift from the traditional dispensing of facts and expecting them to "get it" we may have used in the past.


I also agree that making connections with patterns is a great strategy.

Many moons ago, when I was trained as a special education teacher, I do, we do, you do was taught to me as "direct" instruction.  I also like that over the years it has been refined to include the scaffold practice.  We do with the instructional strategies of STAR or PEMDAS would have been the more practice that my students needed.   I can't wait to here how your lessons went.

I really like the STAR method.  This is an easy to remember and easy to use strategy.  I always try to have my students go through the same "process" when dissecting word problems, but I really like how clear cut and simple STAR is.  I also am trying to use more manipulatives and concrete objects when teaching new concepts, or at the very least provide visual representation of concepts--especially when it comes to fractions.  Again, it is important for students to start making concrete connections to abstract concepts.  Once they are able to make that connection, it sticks with them.  It makes math more real and they begin to understand they "why and how" rather than trying to memorize a bunch of rules.

It is good to know there is a mnemonic for the strategy that I have used in class many times.  I agree that any other mnemonics you can share would be great.

Which specific instructional approaches/strategies from the course do you want to try? Why? What might you need to be successful?


Although I have used all of the approaches and strategies, the one I want to use more often is the intensive instruction (or active engagement) using realistic situations and tools/equipment. I want to utilize this approach more often because students have a better conceptual understanding of something when it is personal and real life.  Using a micrometer to measure a pieces of sheet metal to teach understanding of decimals to the thousandths place is more effective than using a worksheet with pictures of micrometer readings.

Concrete-representational- abstract (CRA) is something I will add to our math trainings.

In Florida’s standard-based instruction training for math, we made a decision to highlight how to use the concrete tools and online resources that are available for instruction.  This decision was based on the majority of programs still relying on publishers creating books based on adult education standards for instruction.  We recognized that programs are going to continue to use published materials, but we felt textbook instruction was more representational and abstract and rather limited on concrete instruction.

In the trainings, I observed some teachers saying they did not have time to use concrete examples to teach all math lessons.  In other words, somehow they missed the point that with some students, you will need to use concrete examples to begin instruction and here are your resources.   I realized that we need to add a slide to assist some teachers making the connection of these three stages of instruction.

Depending on the setting, sometimes it's worth adding a bridge between the C adn R and between the R and the A  where you have both, and use explicit, careful language to make the bridge.   David Berg does this in his "Making Math Real" materials (which you can only get from his training sessions; I attended the "overview" pre-requisite weekend trainign when it was in Chicago and we had a budget).   He'd use manipulatives... then use them *with* pictures... then go to the pictures... then go to pictures with the symbols... and go back and use the manipulatives again... 

    In my experience, it's so easy to "use the manipulatives" and then move as quickly as possible to "the math problems," so that in the end, all we've done is had some extra lessons that only some students were able to connect w/ the procedural instruction.   Referring back w/ the manipulatives and pictures throughout really helps. 

We use many of the touched on strategies, often shifting from one to another depending on the learners needs and grasp. Strategy Learning is both the most rewarding and the most frustrating mostly dependent on my effectiveness. With limited contact time, most instruction is personalized. However my adult learners are very needy. The social worker/counselor/service coordinator part of Adult Ed can consume much of that limited instruction time. Therefore, realistic situational opportunities often present the best learning opportunities.

This lesson is my favorite and most frustrating. It challenges me to expand my tool box. Thank you.

  • Which specific instructional approaches/strategies from the course do you want to try? Why? What might you need to be successful?

I have used mnemonics,"PEMDAS", STAR (specific, timely, accurate, relevant - for the RLA writing, actually any writing), concrete (fraction strips) - lots of visuals - then abstract, peer sharing, group discovery, scaffolding (I do, we do, you do), key words, vocabulary development, talk alouds - how did you get the answer, and where does this apply in real life.

I have learned to practice what I want before teaching it so that the instruction is clear and well-modeled. Why do I use these approaches?  Through my years of teaching elementary and adult education, I have found these best practices work.  They work for both young and adults.  When all the senses are engaged, there are more opportunities for understanding and remembering.

I would like to remember to not forget about response accommodations in my planning, meaning I need to get the students to use alternative media.

  • Regarding instructional approaches/strategies from the course: What questions would you like to discuss with peers? What topics or ideas would you like to learn more about?
I want to continue this topic of discussion. People have given great ideas.


... I *know* that yesterday or Friday I had an article up with STAR and other suggestions for mnemonics, but I'm not finding it.... does anybody have a link? (I'm not even sure what I was looking would have been the same article since I'm doing four projects at the same time right now :( )  

We completely re-worked our strategies in our lowest developmental math course to focus on doing lots (and lots) of concrete practice with bold visuals and connecting that to the procedures.   I noted this semester how many students at finals time were drawing number lines and doing little kinesthetic things to help reconstruct the steps.   I've always had the tendency to start out with a new "concrete to abstract" and ... next time through want to speed it up a bit and... it never works as well.  It *seems* faster, and it is at first, to get quickly to the procedure and working on those steps... but it doesn't stick as well.   

I've found that using the "parts and whole" model (are you going to add or multiply to find the whole thing?  or divide or subtract to find a part?) per Dorothea Steinke to be much, much better than "look for key words," because those silly math problems will include key words like "There is a total of 40 hamburgers... "  and the student thinks "Oh! I have to add!"  when... no, you know the total.   

I also find that I guess I didn't email this last week... pushing send now... 

So one of my students dropped in and told me he'd gotten an 87 on the Math Literacy final exam :) :) 

He said, "The quadratic formula is etched on my brain!"   which reminded me of strategies to etch things on the brain... so I made a couple of videos.   is the vertex formula, including a bit of "how to do this thing."   does the vertex again (but more quickly) and then finishes up with the discriminant... and both of them have a bit of visual grounding, though I did my best to resist Explaining EVERYTHING.   

They are both Open Educational REsources and   I intend to toss up the powerpoints i made them from so somebody else with Camtasia or the equivalent could adapt easily.