How To Plan Effective Math Intervention: A Powerful Free Guide

It's a funny thing pre-planning for intervention groups. Every summer I would find myself wanting to map out the topics I knew would be most important for my students in the coming year. At the same time, I had odd feelings of guilt or that I was doing something irresponsible. Should I be waiting to meet my new groups instead of trying to fit them into a mold that works for me?

This tug of war that interventionists feel is completely normal. Over the years, I came up with a solution that works for me. It honors the fact that my students have individual needs (that's why they are coming to see me in the first place!) but it also acknowledges that I have real and specific goals I would like my students to meet by the end of the year and it gives me a road map to make that happen.

My planning strategy starts out looking like a lot of other teachers planning.

But then I take a turn.

It's unexpected but incredibly effective!

How Can I Get Started? 

First things first, look at your grade level curriculum and notice the foundational skills that your students will need to be successful with grade level work. List these topics out first and order them chronologically.

Next, look at the units you will be teaching during the school year and list out the most important skills and strategies that you can't let your students leave the year without. I personally like to group these topics broadly so I can see the overarching scope of my year. 

This example lists the 1st-grade math intervention topics I use in my intervention lessons

I Already Do This... Where Is The Twist? 

In my example above you see that I have only listed out 14 topics. Never will you ever come across a textbook publisher who only gives you 14 weeks of instruction for the school year. But that's exactly what I advocate doing. You are looking for the most important topics because you want to have plenty of time not only to cover those topics. But to teach for mastery. 


We can all agree that a math interventionist feels the most pride when our students never need math intervention again.

Never. Ever. 

Now that I have my list of topics, I look across the year making sure that I never get close to or ahead of the classroom pacing. By building in time for foundational skills at the beginning of the school year this is almost always the case. I block out the general time of year that I would like to hit each of these topics. 

Grab a cup of coffee, turn on some music and let yourself just play with your list and the timeline of the school year. 

So Under-Planning is the Secret? 

Under plan and over deliver. See, when you break down your planning to only the most critical components you will be able to plan in the thing that your students need most.


When I plan, I give myself a week for initial implementation for a unit. Often I will plan in another week for follow-up. I never feel the rush during the first week of implementation. If my students need another day on a topic- fine! I build in a nice wide buffer.

If most of my students are flying through the unit that's great! They will get more time to work on math centers (more on that below!) and I will have the time to work 1:1 or 2:1 with the students who need that extra time and attention.

Now You Have My Attention

I'll bet I do :) After the second week of implementation I build in ANOTHER buffer week. This time, I want to make sure I have time to do progress monitoring on fact fluency and I want to make sure my students have time for math centers. 

I pick my centers based on all of the standards we have worked on up until this point in the year, all of the fluency activities they have learned and all of the independent practice activities within the units of study. My students have no shortage of important work to do. 

And it is important! 

One of the most effective ways to move students understandings to long term memory is for students to practice the skill of recall. And when I bring back "old" centers or skills my students are getting plenty of time to recall and solidify their skills. 

You Promised Me A Guide

I'm getting to it! Click HERE to go and download a free planning guide to help you layout your math intervention year. 

This FREE guide will start by looking at the whole year and planning out your major units, leaving space for the buffer weeks I described above. Each month, you will take your master plan and layout your next 30 days. Weekly, you will zoom in on the needs of your students and determine what specific teaching moves you will make to help them to be most successful! 

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