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Readtopia Adds Differentiated Math Lessons to 25+ Thematic Units

We are thrilled to announce integrated math lessons for dozens of Readtopia’s thematic units! With instruction across multiple subject areas, including math, Readtopia is the only special education reading curriculum that schools need to help learners reach new heights.

Read on to learn the benefits of Readtopia’s integrated math lessons and see lesson samples from the Readtopia curriculum.

What is Readtopia?

Readtopia is an online special education literacy curriculum for elementary, middle, and high school students with complex learning barriers.

Readtopia presents instruction in 30+ thematic units. Each thematic unit teaches standards-aligned comprehensive reading through an age-appropriate narrative, which connects learning across subject areas. 

The thematic units consist of a leveled graphic novel and informational text, authentic literature, phonics, videos, and photos

A MacBook computer, with multiple Readtopia Thematic Units on the screen

Why Does Readtopia Integrate Math?

We are adding math lessons to all of Readtopia’s thematic units to provide educators with a comprehensive literacy curriculum.

Almost every thematic unit now teaches early reading and phonics across English language arts, science, life skills, social studies, and math.

Ultimately, special education teachers can teach math using all of the age-appropriate thematic units.

"The thematic units connect the dots for me, and they connect characters to science and social studies topics, even integrating life skills and math.”
Patti Hummel
Special Education Teacher

What is the Content of Readtopia’s Math Lessons?

Readtopia’s math content aligns with college and career readiness standards. The math lessons are designed for students with complex needs, including students with autism taking the alternate assessment.

Readtopia has three types of math lessons:

  • Video/Vocabulary: Teaches math words and their meanings.
  • Hands-on Application: Applies math learnings to real-world scenarios.
  • Independent Practice: Facilitates independent learning and practice.

Each math lesson has leveled instructional materials that connect basic mathematical concepts with the narrative of the thematic unit. That means educators can support a wide range of student abilities and backgrounds.

Readtopia’s math content covers eight domains, which are frequently included on standardized tests:

  • Expressions and Equations
  • Geometry
  • Money
  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Number Sense
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Time

Example Math Lessons from Readtopia

Let’s explore examples of math lessons from the Readtopia thematic unit, Gravity, Force, and Motion, anchored by “The Tuskegee Airmen.” It tells the story of Henry, a young man who fights for his country during World War II and against segregation and prejudice.

An image of the Tuskegee Airman standing together in a line, on the cover of, "A Step into History: The Tuskegee Airman" book, Written by Jerry Stemach.

Hands-On Application Math Lesson

Lesson 7 of Gravity, Force, and Motion focuses on the math domain of money. Students learn how to define, identify, and count dollars and coins.

Part 1: Anchor

The first part of the lesson activates students’ background knowledge.

The teacher begins the lesson by playing a video about Henry’s childhood. The video describes Henry as a young boy who loved airplanes. The students learn that Henry enjoyed buying objects related to flying. The video also introduces students to the terms “dollar” and “coin.”

After the video, the teacher gives Henry’s shopping list to students.

A page of a Readtopia math lesson with text overlay: Text reads, "Hands on Application: Money. Henry's shopping list."

Part 2: Apply

Next, differentiated instruction takes place in four small groups. The teacher creates the student groups based on ability. Each group uses Henry’s shopping list, coins, and paper dollars to identify and count money:
  • Group 1 (M1): Names and identifies the types of coins, handing each to the teacher.
  • Group 2 (M2–M3): Counts how much money the teacher gave them to purchase an item on Henry’s shopping list with paper money.
  • Group 3 (M4): Uses the dollar-up method to pay for an item on Henry’s shopping list with paper money. Counts how much money the teacher gave them from various combinations of dollars and coins.
  • Group 4 (M5–M6): Counts how much money the teacher gave them from three combinations of dollars and coins.

Part 3: Follow-Up

The teacher concludes the lesson by asking students to discuss the items they purchased from Henry’s shopping list and how much they cost. Then they remind students about the definitions and amounts of dollars and coins.

A computer video screen with a Readtopia math lesson, including 2, 1 dollar bills valuing the price of one movie ticket.

Video/Vocabulary Math Lesson

In Lesson 15 of Gravity, Force, and Motion, students learn math vocabulary words in the domains of statistics and probability.

First, the teacher plays a video introducing students to the words.

Next, the teacher defines the words using the provided flash cards.

Then, the teacher gives students the picture flash cards. The teacher says a vocabulary word aloud, and the students find the corresponding picture.

A page of a Readtopia Vocabulary worksheet with text at the top of the page that reads, "Vocabulary Instruction: Statistics and Probability"

Independent Practice Math Lesson

Statistics and probability are the focus of Lesson 23 of Gravity, Force, and Motion. The math lesson has six levels of independent practice activities, each with a worksheet.

The leveled activities are:

  • M1: Circling the airplanes.
  • M2: Drawing a bar graph showing the number of airplanes and rockets.
  • M3: Drawing a bar graph showing the number of airplanes and rockets, then circling which group has more.
  • M4: Interpreting the bar graphs to determine the number of airlines and rockets, then circling which group has more.
  • M5: Drawing a bar graph showing the number of airplanes and rockets.
6 different pages of Readtopia math lessons.

Learn More About Readtopia

The Readtopia team is working on more thematic units highlighting living people from diverse backgrounds. Stay tuned for more details!

In the meantime, read about other recent additions to the Readtopia curriculum:

Try Readtopia Free

Readtopia educators already have access to these thematic units. If you are not yet part of the Readtopia family, try a samples of Readtopia for free on our companion website, My Learning Liftoff.


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Karen A. Erickson, Ph.D.​

Karen A. Erickson, Ph.D. is Director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill. Her focus is on understanding the best ways to assess and teach reading and writing to children with the most severe disabilities. As a special education teacher, Dr. Erickson has worked to support students with a range of disabilities in a variety of classroom settings, particularly students who do not use speech as their primary means of communication.


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