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Provide "Just Right" Level of Support


Mathematics Social-Emotional Learning All Ages Strategy

Provide "Just Right" Level of Support

All students

How To Apply It!

  1. To optimize student learning, teachers should carefully consider when and how much support to provide a student during problem solving.
  2. How and when to support a student is very personalized to the student and the situation. However, the rule of thumb is to provide just enough support so that students can solve the problem on their own, feeling stretched but not frustrated.
  3. Provide the minimum amount of information needed for the student to ask questions, clarify and move ahead. For example, if the student is stuck on a step, avoid showing them the whole step, only the number or symbol they need to move ahead. Open-ended questions or reminders often are sufficient to help them to the next step.
  4. Allow for some amount of struggle and discomfort, as this is a sign of healthy growth and challenge. Many students might be uncomfortable with struggling through a problem. If a challenge is within the student's capability level, this is a healthy struggle. If the student does not yet have the skills, this might be an unhealthy struggle. Take into account your perception of the student's grit and perseverance, supporting students to build and improve these skills over time.
  5. Minimize emphasis on grades to the extent possible. The focus should be on healthy struggle and independence in problem solving, not the extrinsic reward of a grade.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Providing just enough, but not too much, support helps students become more self-aware of what they do and do not understand and learn how to solve problems independently.