What approaches allow for equitable access to learning?

“Mathematics is a subject that allows for precise thinking, but when that precise thinking is combined with creativity, flexibility, and multiplicity of ideas, the mathematics comes alive for people. Teachers can create such mathematical excitement in classrooms, with any task, by asking students for the different ways they see and can solve tasks and by encouraging discussion of different ways of seeing problems.” (Boaler, Mathematical Mindsets, 2015, p 59)


  • provide ALL students with access to high quality numeracy experiences and high expectations for mathematics learning
  • encouraging multiple ways for students to demonstrate their understanding
  • student voice and choice
  • inclusive practices, such as accommodations for written output and sensory/physical needs, and cultural responsiveness
  • provide high level content to ALL students through parallel tasks, where the same learning standard is being addressed
  • flexible groupings
    • whole group: instruction and building community understanding
    • small group: guided math, differentiation, explores
    • individual: conferencing, interviews, explicit instruction, authentic practice
    • “visibly random groupings”
  • visual components, open tasks, multi-modality


NCTM Positional Paper: Access and Equity


How can we engage and support diverse learners in inclusive classrooms? Nicole, Linda, and Leyton explore these questions and offer classroom examples to help busy teachers develop communities where all students learn, focusing on the big ideas in education today.

An excerpt from her book on inclusive practices:

Jo Boaler: Believing ALL students are capable

Targeted, Small Group Instruction

In response to student needs or interests, guided math groups allow students to focus on a specific concept or skill in to develop or expand further understanding.

"The Guided Math framework developed by Laney Sammons provides teachers with a flexible instructional format that allows them to meet the diverse needs of their students."


Dr Nicki Newton's Guided Math in Action books provide teachers with support towards providing effective guided math lessons, scaffolding learning in small groups, and assessing student learning.


Visible Random Groupings

Every student has something to add to the conversation, and so grouping should be random. Keeping the randomness visible allows students to know that they are all a valued part of the group. With regular random grouping, students are given an opportunity to work with a variety of people, and are exposed to different ways of thinking. If a student grouping doesn't work one day, chances are those students will be in a different group the next day. Along the way, students learn that random doesn't always feel that random.