What is RtI?

What is RtI?
Response-to-Intervention (RtI) is the practice of providing high-quality instruction/intervention matched to student needs. Progress is closely monitored and changes in instruction are based on data collected from on-going assessment.

RtI represents an educational strategy to close achievement gaps for all students, by preventing smaller learning problems from becoming insurmountable gaps. (NASDSE, 2006)

Tier 1:
Whole Classroom: Quality core instruction provided to all students 80%-90%

Tier 2:
Small Group: Supplemental needs based instruction 10-20%

Tier 3:
Intensive:  individualized instruction 5-10%

What do the tiers mean?

Tier I
ALL students receive Tier I interventions, also known as “Best Practices.” Tier I interventions will be successful with 80- 90% of the student population. Classroom teachers provide Tier I interventions and supports.

Tier II
Based on academic school-wide screening, students who are not meeting grade level benchmarks and for whom Tier I interventions are not supportive enough will receive Tier II interventions. They receive the same instruction as students in Tier 1 as well as targeted interventions. Tier II represents 5-10% of the population. Tier II interventions are provided by the classroom teacher as well as support staff when necessary.

Tier III
Students who are not making adequate progress at Tier II will receive Tier III interventions. Tier III interventions include intensive instruction, specific to the student’s highest area(s) of need. Tier III should only represent 1-5% of the population. Tier III interventions are provided by the classroom teachers as well as specialists in the specific area of skill deficit.

Description of Critical Elements in a 3-Tier RtI Model
The following table outlines the essential features of a three-tier model of RtI including suggested ranges of frequency and duration of screening, interventions and progress monitoring. This is intended as guidance as they determine the various components of their RtI model.
Tier 1
Core Curriculum and
Tier 2
Supplemental Instruction
Tier 3
Increased Levels of
Supplemental Instruction
Size of instructional
Whole class grouping
Small group instruction
(3-5 students)
Individualized or small
group instruction
(1-2 students)
Mastery requirements
of content
Relative to the cut points identified on criterion screening measures and
continued growth as
demonstrated by progress
Relative to the cut points identified on criterion screening measures and
continued growth as
demonstrated by progress monitoring
Relative to the student’s level of performance and
continued growth as
demonstrated by progress monitoring
Frequency of progress
Screening measures three times per year
 (DIBELS, AIMSWeb, iReady)
Varies, but no less than
once every two weeks
Varies, but more continuous and no less than once a week
Frequency of
intervention provided
Per school schedule

Varies, but no less than
three times per week for a minimum of 20-30 minutes per session
Varies, but more frequently than Tier 2 for a minimum of 30 minutes per session
Duration of
School year
9-30 weeks
A minimum of 15-20 weeks

What are the Benefits of RtI?

  • RtI ensures a shared approach is used in addressing students’ diverse needs.
  • Parents are a very important part of the process.
  • RtI eliminates the “wait to fail” situation, because students get help promptly within the general education setting.
  • The RtI approach may help reduce the number of students referred for special education services while increasing the number of students who are successful within regular education.
  • RtI helps to identify the root cause of achievement problems.
  • RtI’s use of progress monitoring provides more instructionally relevant information than traditional assessments

How Parents/Guardians can support at Home:

  • Reading is Fundamental (These tips have been adapted from Reading is Fundamental (www.rif.org)
  • Invite your child to read with you every day.
  • When reading a book where the print is large, point word by word as you read.
  • Read your child’s favorite book over and over again.
  • Read many stories with rhyming words and repeated lines.
  • Discuss new words and ideas.
  • Stop and ask about the pictures and what is happening in the story. Encourage your child to predict.
  • Read from a variety of materials including fairy tales, poems, informational books, magazines and even comic strips.
  • Let your children see you reading for pleasure in your spare time.
  • Take your child to the library. Explore an area of interest together
  • Scout for things your child might like to read. Use your child’s interests and hobbies as starting points.
What should parents do if they believe their child is struggling?

  • Contact your child’s teacher
  • Request a parent/teacher conference
  • Access the parent portal and other daily means of communication
  • Review your child’s work to see if there is progress
  • Talk with your child to ensure they know you are supporting them at home as well as in school

125 × 125Be sure to stop by my Teachers pay Teacher store for great RtI progress monitoring tools during the 2-day Cyber Sale all items 28% off. My students love  my RTI: Nonsense Word Fluency Activities. Its a great way to open guided reading so students to practice going from the individual sounds to the whole word. 

Guided Reading and a freebie

What is Guided Reading?
According to Fountas and Pinnell, guided reading is an instructional setting that enables you (the teacher) to work with a small group of students to help them learn effective strategies for processing text with understanding. The purpose of guided reading is to meet the varying instructional needs of all the students in your class, enabling them to greatly expand their reading powers.

Keep in mind, guided reading is only one piece of a literacy program. Guided reading gives students the opportunity to read at their just right level, which means that the books provide them with a moderate challenge. They are grouped with students who are similar in ability, needs, and strengths. Instruction is then finely tuned to meet the needs of particular students.

I plan my guided reading books using students Instructional Reading level which is 96% to 98% accuracy. I have found anything lower than 96% is too hard and it takes a long tie to get students to move. I also want students to do 95% of the work. I strive for each student to make two years worth of growth each year. This really means looking at each students daily data from their guided reading session and making the most of the the next. Looking at what they need to better access the text the next day. Like thinking about how I structured my questions and how the student responded.  I never afraid to change it up if they are not moving-then something needs to change. I always go back to their data.

Making the Most of Guided Reading
• Ensure that the heart of each guided reading is actual reading and practice. Commit at least 2/3 of total guided reading time to actual reading practice.  Never do anything that isn't aimed directly at the goal of independent reading.
• Let students’ needs drive instruction. When your guided reading groups meet, keep students’ individual goals on the front burner. Don’t deviate, and give them time to mature the skill.
• Highlight the three top needs in your class, integrate and repeatedly focus on them throughout the day, no matter what you are teaching.
• When teaching independent reading strategies:
• model it; when the class reads together, ask “does that make sense?” and show them what to do when it doesn't; remind students to ask the same question when they read independently; explicitly describe to students the strategy you used.
• Dissolve and create new groups whenever students’ needs change.

Suggested Mini-Lessons
• Story Elements
• Vocabulary
• Sequencing
• Character Development
• Predicting
• Fluency
• Decoding Strategies
• Making Connections (personal, to another text, to the world)
• Inferring
• Summarizing
• Analyzing
• Critiquing
• Skimming and Scanning
• Retelling
• Word Meanings

Prompts to Support Learners with Strategies

To support the control of early reading behaviors
• Read it with your finger
• Do you think it look like __________?
• Did you have enough words?
• Did it match?
• Did you run out of words?
• Read that again and start the word

To support self-monitoring behavior
• Why did you stop?
• It could be __________, but look at ________.
• Where's the tricky work? (after error)
• Try that again.
• Were you right?

To support Cross-checking
• Check the picture.
• What could you try?
• Try that again and think what would make sense?
• Do you know a word that starts with those letters? Ends with those letters?
• Check it. Does it look right and sound right to you?
• What part do you know?
• What do you know that might help?

To support phrased, fluent reading
• Put your words together so it sounds like talking.
•To support searching for cues

• Try that again.
• You said__________. Does that make sense?
• Look at the picture.
• What might happen nest, in the story?
• Did that make sense?
• What would make sense?
• Try __________, would that make sense?

• Does it look right?
• Can you say it that way?
• What would sound right?
• Try __________. Would that sound right?

• Does it look right?
• What do you expect to see at the beginning? at the end?
• Do you know a work like that?
• What does it start with? Can you say more than that?
• What do you know that might help?

To Support Self-Correction
• You're nearly right. Try that again.
• I liked the way you worked that out.
• You made a mistake. Can you find it?
• Something wasn't quite right.

This guided reading checklist focuses on the many skills taught during guided reading. When a child isn't reading fluently, it is usually because one or several of the following reading skills require more support. This is a helpful resource that I use when planning for the next day. Make sure to grab your below.

Ideas to To Spice Up Vocabulary Work

Moving school districts means that this year I have had to create new ways for my students
to work with the vocabulary. One thing with Storytown I have come to love is the Intervention series vocabulary matches the grade level vocabulary. The teachers have also requested that I run one week ahead of them. This is nice because students work through the vocabulary with me before they have to do it in class. I can help students understand with word with examples but also they can practice how to apply the word using the story as a background. I also have to make sure that I give real life or real world examples of the word—in most cases these are words that they will come across in middle school but will never use with writing or in a conversation. (Which doesn't help them with text access.)

  • Tally-Ho!-Display the vocabulary word card. Add a tally mark beside the word each time a student uses the vocabulary word in conversation.
  • May I Have Your Autograph?-Display an enlarged print vocabulary word card. Allow students to autograph the card each time they use the vocabulary word in conversation.
  • Vocabulary String-Scan and print the cover of each book from which vocabulary words are pulled. Attach a kite “tail” of string, yarn, ribbon, etc. to the cover. Print out vocabulary word cards and glue each card on the tail. Allow student to write their name on a clothespin and clip it to the word card each time they use the word in conversation.
  • Don’t Lose Your Marbles!-Display the vocabulary word on the outside of a small jar. Add a marble to the jar each time a student uses the vocabulary word in conversation.
  • Stick With It!-Display the vocabulary word card. Each time a student uses the vocabulary word in conversation, have him add a small sticker to the card.
  • Just Scrolling Along!-On a computer that is visible to students, set the screensaver to scrolling text and type in the vocabulary words and/or definitions. Set the screensaver to come on after 5 minutes or so.
  • Rock On!-Make a vocabulary jar by gluing a vocabulary word card to the outside of a jar. Allow students to drop a rock in the jar each time they use the vocabulary word in conversation.
  • Vocabulary Vine-Make a crepe paper vine to wind across the walls in your classroom. Cut out leaves and write a vocabulary word on each leaf. Attach the leaves to your vine and watch students’ vocabulary grow!
  • Word Wizard-Purchase clear name badges. Write the vocabulary word on a card. Slide the card into the badge holder. Allow a student to be the “Word Wizard”. He will wear the vocabulary word and should use the word throughout the day.
  • Chain, Chain, Chain!-Cut out construction paper chain links. Each time a student uses a vocabulary word in conversation, have him write the vocabulary word on the link and add it to the chain. The chain will hang straight down from the ceiling. Display this poem:
For all the vocabulary words you say,
You’ll add another link today.
And when the chain and floor do meet,
(Teacher’s Name) will bring us each a treat!

  • Vocabulary Pop!-Set a large jar on the counter. Each time a student uses a vocabulary word, drop a small handful of popcorn kernels in the jar. When the jar is full, have a popcorn party.
  • Movin’ On!-Take a piece of yarn the width of your classroom and hang it above you. The yarn should start on one side of the room and stretch across it horizontally to attach to the other side of the classroom. On the far side, attach a blown up balloon. (Before blowing up the balloon, slip a piece of paper inside with the treat to be given written on it—class homework pass, 5 minutes extra recess, etc.) Attach a sign that says “Our vocabulary is moving on!” with a gym clip. Each time a student uses a vocabulary word, move the sign a bit toward the balloon. When the sign reaches the balloon, pop the balloon and read the prize. You can then start over with a new balloon and a new secret prize.

Here some ideas that I have used with my students that are more aligned with their learning styles. Most of these I have students do at home for practice. This gives them the chance to pick how they want to practice the words. It works great with spelling as well.

  • Backwards Words- Write your words forwards, then backwards.
  • Silly sentences -Use all your words in ten sentences.
  • Picture words – Draw a picture and write your words in the picture.
  • Words without Vowels – Write your words replacing all vowels with a line.
  • Words without Consonants – Write your words replacing all consonants with a line.
  • Story words – Write a short story using all your words.
  • Scrambled words –Write your words, then write them again with the letters mixed up.
  • Ransom words – Write your words by cutting out letters in a newspaper or magazine and glue them on a paper.
  • Pyramid Words – Write your words adding or subtracting one letter at a time. The result will be a pyramid shape of words.
  • Words-in-words – Write your word and then write at least 2 words made from each.
  • Good Clean Words –Write your words in shaving cream on a counter or some other surface that can be cleaned safely.
  • Etch-A-Word – Use an Etch- A-Sketch to write your words.
  • Secret Agent Words – Number the alphabet from 1 to 26, then convert your words to a number code.
  • Popsicles – Make words using popsicle sticks.
  • Newspaper Words – Search a newspaper page from top to bottom, circling each letter of a word as you find it.
  • Silly String – With a long length of string, “write” words using the string to shape the letters.
  • Backwriting – Using your finger, draw each letter on a partners’ back, having the partner say the word when completed.
  • Choo-Choo Words – Write the entire list end-to-end as one long word, using different colors of crayon or ink for different words.
  • Other Handed – If you are right-handed, write with your left, or vice versa.
  • Cheer your words – Pretend you are a cheerleader and call out your words! Sometimes you’ll yell, sometimes you’ll whisper.
  • Reversed words – Write your words in ABC order - backwards!
  • ABC order- Write your words in alphabetical order.
  • Puzzle words – Use a blank puzzle form. Write your words on the form, making sure that the words cross over the pieces. Then cut them out (color if you wish) and put them in a baggie with your name on it.
  • Pasta Words – Write your words by arranging alphabet pasta or Alphabits.
  • Sound Words – Use a tape recorder and record your words and their spelling. Then listen to your tape, checking to see that you spelled all the words correctly.
  • 3D words – Use modeling clay rolled thinly to make your words. Bring a note if done at home.
  • Dirty Words – Write your words in mud or sand.
Have a great week with your family. I hope these ideas help are we are looking for new ways to spice up vocabulary work.

Text Access Ideas for Below Grade Readers

Its difficult to meet the readers needs of all students. For some its too easy, others to way to hard, and for many its just right. Using guided reading to move students takes time--time that I don't have when students are struggling in the classroom. My reading program just doesn't cut it when it comes to meeting the needs of my readers who are three or four years behind.

Like many my daily schedule is already jam-packed, and it's challenging to add one more thing. Here are three ideas that won’t take a lot of extra time and will support your striving readers as they move toward reading independently and comprehending increasingly complex texts.

1. Read aloud texts that may be challenging, providing all students the opportunity to boost their comprehension and engage in collaborative conversations.

Reading aloud is such an integral part of my daily instruction that my students and I keep a read-aloud tally (pictured below), using one tally mark for each read-aloud experience. The essential literacy practice of reading aloud is also endorsed by the authors of the Common Core's ELA Standards in Appendix A (p. 27). I do the grade level reading and grade vocabulary works as a read aloud and ask higher order thinking questions.

 2. Guide readers individually and in small groups. To make the most of the time you will spend guiding readers one-on-one or in small groups, it is wise to pinpoint their strengths and areas of need. The best way to do this is by using a reading assessment that includes a running record. This will enable you to know your students' instructional level and, as important, whether your readers are struggling with decoding, fluency, vocabulary or comprehension. Armed with this information, meet with students as often as possible to prompt and coach them to apply decoding strategies for figuring out unknown words and comprehension strategies to better understand the text. If your reading program provides leveled texts, these will work well for guiding readers in small group. I spend three days a week working as a guided reading group, where we read instructional level text. I always have a written assignment on these days to push them to use the resource (spelling, sighting text).

3. I have a couple of students that this is not enough for them to access the material. So I use Boardmaker and Google Images to highlight the key part of the text in a picture based sentence strip. I tape the strip on the the story, so that the students have the original text but can read the sentence that I added to understand the text.

I hope these ideas help you in the classroom. I've been playing with student access and have created a couple of adaptive books for a student who is working on her shapes and colors. Enjoy them free below.

Color Adaptive Book

Shape Adaptive Book

About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.

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