[Do the Math] empowered kids who really struggle with mathematics and have for years. It gave them confidence and a format to describe/explain what they were doing or thinking.”
– Special Education District-Level Math Coach

Do the Math
Bridgid Boland, Jill Camburm, Molly Mendonca

Produced by Scholastic
Created by Marilyn Burns
TM ® & © 2009-1996 Scholastic Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Description of Program:
· Do the Math focuses Number Operations through the basics of math— computation, number sense, and problem solving—through the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and fractions
· Created for grades 1-8
· Price: $50-1,250
· While many students could succeed from the Do the Math program, the program itself seems to be geared towards students who are struggling with math concepts.
· The program addresses eight research-based instructional practices including Scaffolded Content, Explicit Instruction, Multiple Strategies, Gradual Release routines, Student Interaction, Meaningful Practice, Assessment & Differentiation, and Vocabulary & Language to help differentiate and meet the needs of every student.
· The program is teacher directed with an emphasis on peer interaction.

Do the Math was created with the purpose to assist the 2/3 of students who do not have a solid foundation in basic math skills. In addition to the regular curriculum program, it provides extra support for students who need it. Burns strived to develop different approaches to help struggling students rather than repeat the same methods. She made sure to break content into “bite-sized, manageable” pieces that the students could handle.

Research: Studies were conducted in six New York City schools to gather data and document the implantation of Do the Math. It was found that the program raises student achievement, can be easily used and implemented by all teachers, and works in a variety of settings.

Texts and Materials:
Do the Math uses a number of different materials. The Teacher Guide provides all of the information needed for preparing to teach the lessons, step-by-step teaching instructions, guidance for monitoring student progress, and specific information about how to use the other materials in the program. The Annotated Workspace shows answers to help with quick monitoring. It is an exact replica of the student workbook. The student workbook allows the students to follow along with the lessons. Read-Alouds are also included for each module. Do the Math incorporates literary texts within the concepts being taught. The program also comes with Teacher Demonstration Materials for each concept.
Games are incorporated in the program as a multisensory approach and to encourage active participation and practice of the important skills. Do the Math also encourages the use of interactive whiteboard as an innovative technology that serves as a great visual aid for students. They are very beneficial to use for students with special needs or students who are English Language Learners.


Do the Math is organized into 12 scaffolded modules that focus on rebuilding fluency with whole numbers and fluency with fractions. Every module includes a series of thirty 30-minute step-by-step lessons. The modules are separated into categories of addition/subtraction, multiplication, division, and fractions. The modular design gives the program the flexibility to span multiple grade levels. Students are assessed every fifth lesson as a way to monitor progress.

Instruction is developmentally sequenced in order for students to gradually build their math skills as they move forward in the program. There is a four-phase model that was built to ensure student independence.

  • In Phase 1, the teacher models and records the appropriate mathematical representation on the board.
  • In Phase 2, the teacher models again but this time elicits responses from the students.
  • During Phase 3, the teacher presents a similar problem. Students work in pairs to solve the problem. The teacher records their solution on the board.
  • In Phase 4, Students work independently, monitored and supported by the teacher.In Phase 2, the teacher models again but this time elicits responses from the students.

Do the Math provides teacher-directed instruction. The teacher models the effective strategies to the students. Students are also encouraged to work together and an essential routine the program focuses on is think, pair, share

Do the Math helps students learn and develop the skills they need to compute, reason, and solve problems. Each module has several objectives that children are expected to learn, practice, and master with the use of this program.

Do the Math can be used with the individual student. However, it stresses the importance of peer interaction within the program. It is recommended that the students work in pairs or groups. Do the Math encourages partner interaction once the students are released to work independently on their assignments.

“I break the content into manageable bite-sized pieces to help students—especially the students who struggle—develop the understanding and skills they need. And I keep the instructional focus on the relationships among these pieces so that students build the foundations they need for continued success with math as a whole.”
-Marilyn Burns, creator of Do the Math

Correlation with General Ed Curriculum:
The program is designed to complement what core math program that already exists within the school. The school and/or district are responsible for determining the content focus of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and fractions.

Inclusive Classroom: D
Do the Math can be used by regular classroom teachers as well as Math Coaches and Special Education teachers. It can be used in a variety of settings, including the inclusive classroom. It is delivered as either whole group instruction or in the context of small group instruction.
Do the Math® modules can be placed in any one of the three Response to Intervention (RTI) tiers of service delivery. Its flexible design fits in a variety of settings and can be configured to match the needs of your school or district.

The lessons include differentiated instruction which address strategies for students who either need more support or for students who are ready for a challenge.

This program is not used for teachers to assess students specifically for a special education placement. However, each module has a progress monitoring section which assesses student understanding of the skills being taught. The program is often used as a Response to Intervention. While the program does not serve as a formal assessment tool, it can be used to help the teacher monitor the students and their amount of progress.
The Do the Math program increases opportunities for the teacher to conduct observational assessment.

The teacher training is designed in three components. One is embedded within the program itself through the teacher guides. Another is support from Scholastic. The last is Expanded Professional Development through Math Solutions.
Support and training are embedded within the program. The program includes a Teacher Guide which includes all the information needed to teach the lessons including step-by-step teacher instructions. It includes professional materials, such as a CD-ROM and videos to help the teacher.
Scholastic has also designed a half-day Implementation Training to give teachers hands-on support. Sessions can be designed or focused on a certain topic if requested by the school district.
Extra training and implementation can be arranged with Math Solutions, another program created by Marilyn Burns. The teachers can attend courses to assist the implementation of the program within the schools. There is a two day introductory course, a five day series about the direct connection with classroom instruction, and a five day summer course.


  • Do the Math works in a variety of classrooms with a variety of students.
  • It accompanies any curriculum.
  • It can be used with any group size or individual student.
  • It is not necessary to use the whole program, different modules could be individualized.
  • The program can be funded under IDEA.
  • The progress monitoring provides opportunity for the teacher to assess themselves and the student.


  • It can be expensive if not funded under IDEA.
  • The program cannot replace the curriculum and must be used in addition to it.
  • The program could be time consuming for the teacher.
  • The program only addresses the basic math operations.

Final Reflection:
If the program was available financially, we would consider using it in our classrooms. It is an easy to follow program with step-by-step instructions. It is a successful program in helping struggling students build a math base for later concepts. It can be used in a variety of setting and situations. It is very goal orientated and specific towards the skills.


"Marilyn Burns and Scholastic Introduce "Do the Math(R)" Arithmetic Intervention for Struggling Students". Market Wire. 13 Nov, 2009.