One of the most rewarding experiences as a teacher is to watch students learn something they previously struggled to grasp. There’s nothing quite like seeing a student’s face light up when s/he realizes “I’ve got it!” As students return to the classroom this fall, many teachers are encountering more students who need additional support to be successful with grade-level material. Between a global pandemic, summer break, and many schools having to provide instruction in virtual or hybrid models, teachers are searching for new and different ways to support students through remediation and intervention.
The goal of both remediation and intervention is to help students make progress towards grade-level standards. Remediation is usually completed shortly after instruction for a particular skill or concept is completed. Teachers may reteach the information from the original lesson in a different way to clarify student misconceptions. Intervention typically involves a more structured and formalized process that targets specific skills students have not mastered, which have created gaps in the students’ learning. Teachers provide additional instruction for students and measure their progress, often using a progress monitoring tool.
Once the need for remediation and intervention has been identified, it’s important to consider what instructional strategies and materials could be used to support the student. In the areas of math and literacy, research has shown that the use of hands-on learning with manipulatives has a variety of benefits for students. Manipulatives help students engage and visualize abstract concepts. So how can you use hands-on learning to support remediation and intervention in math and literacy? Let’s look at a few tips and resources.
1. Use manipulatives to build a concrete understanding of a concept. Many times, students who need remediation and intervention haven’t had the opportunity to explore a concept at the concrete level, using things like objects or manipulatives. For example, students may struggle to understand multiplication because they’ve only been shown the steps for multiplying using numbers and symbols. Instead students should first experience multiplying in a hands-on way, such as using counters, UniLink® Cubes, or Base Ten Blocks to create an array to model the problem. Additionally, a student may have difficulty reading certain words because they struggle to understand the individual sounds in the word and the letters that make them. Students can develop a more concrete understanding of this by building the word using something like letter tiles, letter cards, or Reading Rods®. They could also represent each sound of the word with magnetic chips and use a magnetic wand to pick up the chips as they say and blend the sounds in the word.
Some students might gravitate towards a particular manipulative to help them develop a connection to the concept. Other students might need to explore a concept in different ways using different manipulatives to begin to develop their understanding. Virtual manipulatives, like the ones from Brainingcamp, also provide another way for students to engage in hands-on learning no matter where they’re receiving instruction.
2. Plan for ways to help students move from a concrete understanding of a concept to the abstract. Students build understanding by moving from manipulating objects, to drawing pictures, and then finally to using numbers, symbols, and words. By planning for the transition between these stages, you can assist students in furthering their understanding and transferring knowledge to new situations. For example, after a student uses counters or cubes to explore composing and decomposing a number, they could then draw pictures of the counters or cubes to show the different ways to make a number before they move onto writing number sentences.
3. Use manipulatives to build structures or frameworks that support students’ comprehension. Cubes, links, or blocks with different colors, shapes, and attributes can be used to visualize relationships between ideas and help students organize their thoughts. For example, students might touch two of the same color of Color Tiles while they say a pair of synonyms. The colors reinforce that the words have the same meaning. Additionally, students might make a chain of Link ‘N’ Learn® Links and touch each link as they retell a story to help remember how the events are sequenced. oject.
Remediation and intervention are vital to meeting the needs of all students. By integrating hands-on learning with manipulatives into remediation and intervention, you can help students deepen their understanding and experience success in the classroom!
Heather Jenkins is a Development Editor for hand2mind. She spent over a decade in the classroom as a special education teacher, specialist, and district-level administrator. Since leaving the classroom, Heather has worked in the education publishing industry specializing in developing literacy, STEM, and special education curriculum. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two kids.