This past week was our spring break. We did what it seems like half the population of Michigan did–travel down to the sunny beaches of Flordia. The drive down and back was a little crazy (okay, a lot crazy) and Ft. Myers Beach was jam-packed with tourists, but it was well worth sitting in the warm sun even for a few short days. During break, I learned a few things about myself. I suffer from two addictions. One I kind of knew about and the other was a surprise. My first addiction–the internet. Although our condo had internet and I did bring my computer with me, I didn’t take the right power cord. My uncharged computer sat in a corner of the bedroom all week long. I couldn’t work at all! It took about three days, but I eventually adjusted. My other addiction came as a surprise. I am addicted to my books. I have about 50 books on my countertop at home. I had to choose which books to take with me to read on the beach. So, which books made the cut. Here are my favorites.
I love neurology and I’m really interested in how a typical reader learns to reads and how a struggling reader reads. There are definite differences in the pathways that typical and struggling readers use when reading. What’s more important is that, when given intervention, the pathways in the brain used for reading change! It’s truly remarkable. My favorite books on the neurology of reading are David Sousa’s How The Brain Learns to Read, Building The Reading Brain Pre K-3 by Patricia Wolfe and Pamela Nevills and Overcoming Dylexia by Sally Shaywitz. Of course, I couldn’t leave these books behind.
On the Wednesday before break I was in one of my schools and a question came up regarding the best way to teach vocabulary. Being a Speech/Language Pathologist prior to my current job, the topic of vocabulary is one of my favorites. For sure I had to take my favorite books on vocabulary to the beach!
Isabel Beck’s book, Bringing Words To Life is my all-time favorite!
Janet Allen’s Words, Words, Words book made the beach read cut mostly because I really need to begin to think about literacy instruction in the upper grades.
You can’t talk about vocabulary instruction without talking about the king of educational research, Robert Marzano! The Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works and Vocabulary Games for the Classroom are both very heavy books, but well worth lugging to the beach.
I go nowhere without my two favorite books on Response to Intervention. Response to Intervention: A Practical Guide for Every Teacher and A Principal’s Guide: Implementing Response To Intervention explains RtI so nicely and have many examples of successful implementation in schools.
A few of our teachers are reading “the sisters” two books, The Cafe Book and The Daily 5. I’ve read selected chapters of the books, but really need to get a handle on the big picture and correlate it to the National Reading Panel’s recommendations.
Okay, listing all these books really does make it look like I’m really obsessive. Truth is there are a few more books I threw in my beach reading bag and trucked down to the beach everyday. There are even a few books that I wish I had with me. I know most people take steamy novels with them on spring break, but I sat happily reading my professional books. The only regret is that a few of them now have sand within their pages.
Earlier this school year our social workers shared this really cool website that they found. It has tons of intervention strategies for dealing with students who are demonstrating behavioral issues in school. I love it because in addition to the strategies, it also offers options for tracking and monitoring progress which, of course, is at the heart of Response to Intervention. The website is called PBIS World. Let me show you what the site has to offer.
When you log onto the site, this is the first page you’ll see. Note the tabs along the top…Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 and Data Tracking. If you click the Data Tracking tab, there is literally over 100 different questionairres and forms to use for gathering information and tracking behavior. On the main page is a list of possible behaviors that a student may be exhibiting.
Simply click the behavior that your student is exhibiting and you’ll be taken to a page which lists possible characteristics that may describe your student. If the characteristics describe your student, you’ll click “Yes”.
After clicking “Yes”, you’ll be taken to page with a list of Tier 1 research-based strategies to address the specific issue. If you click on a specific strategy, a description of strategy, how to implement the strategy and possible data tracking forms are provided. Isn’t this awesome?
So let’s take a peek. I’ve clicked the Tier 2 interventions to address the issue of hyperactivity and I’m taken to this page which lists possible interventions and strategies.
If the Check in Check Out strategy is a strategy that I believe may work with this student, I simply click the link. I’m taken to page which describes the strategy in detail. Not only is there a complete description of the strategy, but there are ideas of when and how to use it. Did I mention there are also data tracking forms??
If you have challenging students in your classroom be sure to check out this website. It’s really, really helpful!
Response to Intervention is the practice of providing high quality instruction and intervention matched to student need and using learning rate over time and level of performance to make important educational decisions.
Schools who implement a RtI model use a tiered system of instruction and intervention. The 3-Tier Model introduced by the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts in 2005 has been primarily the model that we have used to help us guide our RtI practices. In a tiered system, students are provided with research-based core instruction and intervention. Depending upon their response to that instruction, they progressively move though the tiers. In a tiered system, research would indicate that 80% of the students in the classroom should reach benchmark goals with high quality core reading instruction only. 15% of the students within the classroom will require additional targeted intervention in addition to core instruction and 5% of students will require a significant amount of intervention to reach benchmark goals.
Click the following link to download the above graphic Response to Intervention- 3 Tiered Model
Tier one instruction is the core reading instruction provided by the general education teacher within the general education classroom. Using the Reading First guidelines, the reading block must consist of at least 90 minutes of uninterrupted instruction in the five key components of reading instruction (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension). Most schools implementing a RtI model chose a scientifically-based reading curriculum. Within the reading block, multiple grouping formats are used which include whole group and small-group instruction. Students are typically group heterogeneously during core small group instruction.
Students who are not progressing with Tier 1 instruction alone will require addition support to reach benchmark goals. These students are still receiving the core instruction during their 90 minute literacy block (whole group and small group), but need time and practice above that to progress. Students who require Tier 2 instruction receive small group intervention with other students with the same specific skill deficit. In other words, students are grouped homogenously during Tier 2. Students received an additional 30 minutes a day of skill-based intervention in addition to their core reading instruction. This intervention needs to be teacher-directed as explicit instruction and guided feedback cannot be provided by a computer program or a peer. Tier 2 intervention can be provided by the classroom teacher or another highly trained teacher (Reading Specialist). In terms of assessment, students receiving Tier 2 intervention are progress monitored at least twice a month to ensure that they are progressing. “Digging deeper” assessments are also administered to identify specific skill deficits.
Tier 3 is reserved for students who are not progressing as expected with Tier 2 intervention and core reading instruction. Students in Tier 3 intervention receive high quality research-based intervention as students in Tier 2, but with greater intensity and with a lower teacher-student ratio (e.g 1:3 or 1:1). The smaller the group size, the more opportunity the student has for practice and response. Because these students are significantly behind, instruction needs to more systematic and explicit with many opportunities for practice. The Vaughn Center recommends that Tier III instruction should be 60 minutes of intervention in addition to core reading instruction. Because of the intensity required with students receiving Tier III, typically the majority of the intervention is provided by a Reading Specialist. Frequent progress monitoring (once a week) is required as well as “digging deeper” assessments to identify skill deficits.
The above tiers can be used as guidelines for instruction/intervention. Professional judgment must be used when matching the type and intensity of intervention. For example, if a student moves into your school and is significantly below grade level, he/she may be immediately placed in Tier III. If your school is beginning to implement RtI, you might want to check out my two favorite reference books. Just click on the pic of the book.
This coming school year will be our 9th year of our Response to Intervention (RtI) initiative. Honestly, the years have passed so quickly and it’s hard for me to remember how we used to function before RtI. Not that everything is perfect now by any means, but RtI has become such an integral part of our school culture that it seems almost natural. One of the reasons I started this blog was to share with you content information as well as our personal experiences we have had while traveling along our RtI journey. Implementing a RtI model does not happen overnight as I’m sure those of you who have started such an initiative can attest to. There are bumps and blocks along the journey. By sharing our experiences we can help each other along the way.
I’ve put quite a bit of thought into how blog about this topic. I live and breathe RtI every day in my job and I want to do it justice. With this in mind, I’ve decided to organize the blog posts around the Eight Core Principles of RtI put forth by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE, 2006). These core principles are the heart and soul of RtI.
I. We can effectively teach all children
II. Intervene Early
III. Multi-tier Model of Service Delivery
IV. Problem-Solving Model to make decisions
V. Scientific, research-based validated intervention and instruction
VI. Monitor student progress to inform instruction
VII. Data driven decisions
VIII. Assessment for the purposes of screening, diagnostics, and progress monitoring
Of course not all my posts will be directly related to RtI. For those posts that are, I will code them with a logo corresponding to one of the eight principles. So when you see a logo such as one at the top of the post, you’ll know it is a RtI related blog post.
Click the following link to download your free poster. 8 Core Principles of Response to Intervention
My three children are now 18, 17 and 15. When Response to Intervention (RtI) was first introduced in our districts around 8 years ago, I was spending just about the same amount of time in the Orthodontist’s office as I was on the soccer fields. As our family Orthodontist explained, there was something about my husband’s and my genetic combination that contributed to our children’s very unique orthodontic problems. My son’s issues were mild compared to my two daughters. What was astounding to our Orthodontist was that Kassie and Lizzie had the opposite problem. Kassie had a severe overbite and Lizzie had a severe underbite (among many other issues). He informed us that out of the three very difficult orthodontic problems to correct, Lizzie had two.
Fortunately, I took the advice of a good friend who read that your child should first visit the Orthodontist at the age of five. Although our Orthodontist did not “intervene” at that time, I had a heads up of what was to come and my children were scheduled for periodic checks to see how they were developing. Years later, as I was preparing for a presentation on Response to Intervention, I couldn’t help but see the correlation with orthodontics nowadays to RtI. Let’s take Lizzie’s treatment for her underbite as an example.
Years ago, the correction of a severe underbite went something like this. The patient had to wait until about the age of 18 when the jaw bone had stopping growing. A very invasive surgery then ensued where part of the bone on either side of the lower jaw was removed and the remaining sections were wired together. The upper and lower jaws were then wired together for about six weeks. During this time, the patient could only sip from a straw. It was very painful. I had a friend who had this surgery in the early 80′s and I still have vivid memories of seeing her bruised and puffed face a few days following the surgery.
Let’s now fast forward to the orthodontic treatments of today. Fortunately, I took Lizzie for the orthodontic screening at a young age and then regular periodic checks as she was growing and developing. When the time was right, the Orthodontist started intervention– systematically moving structures around with devices such as a palate spreader to “make room” for her emerging teeth. When it was time to address the issue of the underbite, Lizzie was given a Frankel appliance. The device encouraged the growth of the upper jaw while slowing the growth of the lower jaw. Starting at the age of 7, Lizzie had to wear this rather large device 23 hours a day for one and half years. We visited the Orthodontist every 6-8 weeks where he would check Lizzie’s progress and make adjustments to her treatment as needed. Eventually, the time wearing the device decreased to the point where she only had to wear it at night and then not at all.
Well, that’s RtI in a nutshell- screening, early intervention, monitoring of progress, and changing intervention as needed until you get the desired outcome. Was it work? Yes. Was it expensive? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely!! Leaving her orthodontic issues untreated would have very likely affected her self esteem and, in addition, had physical repercussions later on in life. The same holds true for not addressing reading problems early on. So, let RtI do for your school and students what our Orthodontist did for Lizzie.
So what do you do with an orthodontic appliance when you no longer need it? Well, Lizzie wanted to make into a Christmas ornament-she is crafty. Eventually, maybe, but for now it’s still a prop for presentations.
Okay, for you “younger-ones”, the appliance on my mannequin is headgear that we slightly “older-ones” wore at night when we had those thick metal braces.