Supporting Students – Reviewing the Basics

I teach Algebra 2 to students who have just completed a year of Geometry. They do some algebra throughout the year, but are still rusty on many skills when their year with me begins.

This summer I am assigning an optional review on Delta Math for my students. It’s mostly basics with some beginning Algebra 1 topics. I included rounding, basic percents, fraction operations, order of operations, exponents, slope and linear equations, and basic factoring.

I will give my students a pre-assessment in the first week of school so they will know exactly what concepts they still need to work on.  I plan on reteaching the concepts that the majority of the students struggle with.

However, I’m not quite sure of the best way to help students that need more support than this.  I will leave the Delta Math set live so students can continue to practice those topics.  I plan on holding algebra one review sessions during student choice times for students that need, or want, extra support.  But I would like to make sure it is enough, enough time and enough support.  I want to support students who need review, but I am afraid of spending too much class time reviewing basics.  I don’t want students who do not need the review to be bored in my class.

Mattie suggested that I spend some time putting students together that can help each other, and letting them work with each other.  I do like this idea, as it will be more individualized help for students (instead of just me trying to help many students on many different concepts).  Also, often students understand other students better than the teacher.  I could do this in class occasionally or make it during student choice times.  If students volunteered to help others during choice times they could even earn service hours.  But, I haven’t even thought about how to structure this.

I would love ideas.  How do you support students that need extra help with basic skills during an already hectic school day/year?


8 thoughts on “Supporting Students – Reviewing the Basics

  1. Thank you for giving me so many ideas from your blog! You’re a terrific teacher and I’ve learned a lot from your posts.

    For review, we’re big fans of Khan Academy. Students can go back as far as they need to. We have kids start with the lower elementary “mission” if needed then go through all the levels as review. They won’t waste any time because Khan tracks skills that students have mastered. They can do an Algebra 1 mission for review. It’s free and they just need an email address to make an account. Hope this helps!

    • Hi Mel,
      Thank you so much for this response! I wasn’t aware of the missions. It seems like it would be very helpful for students to learn on their own! Are you able to monitor their progress when they do a mission?

      • Thanks for the reply! Yes you can give the students missions and once they accept the mission, you can monitor progress my skills (practiced, mastered) and the number of minutes they spend on Khan. Teachers are automatically students, too, so we can brush up on our skills on Khan as well!

  2. Our school added a course called “Math Lab” which is optional but gives kids extra time during the school day to review concepts with a math teacher in small groups. I think the fact that the kids have this time during the school day is key and we have seen some huge improvement.
    And Khan Academy is also great, let’s kids work at their own pace to complete the Missions, an amazing resource!

      • I used KA pretty extensively for the first time this year in my Calculus classes, and plan on rolling it out into my Algebra II and Precalc classes next year.

        I monitored my students’ work both by looking at percents for missions (easy in AP Calc, which has a pretty closely aligned KA mission; not so easy for our Algebra II curriculum, which includes KA content from different missions), and creating a few bookmarked custom skill searches to keep track of the ones I’m interested in. KA can’t do custom missions yet, unfortunately. Over the last couple years, their content and questions have seriously improved, which is nice.

  3. I spend the first week or so of school (we have three early release days to start the year), I have the students work on what I call an algebra menu ( Students have to work together to complete at least one problem in each column, and compile at least 50 points worth of work. I’m able to use this to help review algebra 1 work, while also figuring out where students in class are. I’ve made screencasts going through the problems in each section, and warm up each day over the first week with some of the problems too.

    This year, we’re going to 1-to-1 chromebooks, so I tried to create a digital version. (

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