What do we, as teachers, want for our students? We want our students to be successful throughout their academic years. We want to prepare each student for college and a future career.
As a former elementary educator, I found it challenging at times to make sure that all of my students’ needs were being met. Luckily, I found out about Response to Intervention (RTI), a prevention and remediation of interventions that provided many ways for me to meet individual students’ needs.
RTI was definitely an effective way to determine what students needed and how I could approach meeting their learning needs.
As I began the school year, I would identify the exceeding, meeting, at-risk and struggling readers. I would implement an appropriate RTI, making sure students were given the necessary instruction they needed for their level.
This required weekly and quarterly monitoring strategies on all students. The testing assessments to identify students with learning disabilities were very effective. In addition to helping students with reading difficulties, RTI was a way to increase adequate yearly progress school reports.
Using RTI in the Classroom
At all tiers, I used strategies that provided students with what they needed instructionally. Using student data, I determined the learning needs of students at each tier.
In my classroom, for example, Tier 1 intervention focused mainly on building academic and core vocabulary. I would build vocabulary across the different subjects: math, science, reading and social studies. It was important to build on background knowledge to assist the students’ reading comprehension.
Tier 2 was considered a prevention approach for struggling readers. Although I used the research-based core reading program, it was important to use supplemental materials, small intervention groups, one-on-one and modifications to meet the needs of the struggling reader. Effectively, I would plan lessons and mini-lessons to build reading fluency, focusing on the content while using strategies to enhance reading comprehension.
The students in Tier 3 were provided interventions outside of the classroom with one-on-one instruction or very small groups. It was important that I collaborated with the reading coaches, interventionists and IEP coordinators to assist these at-risk students. An example of intervention for Tier 3 students was to focus on building their phonemic awareness, speed and verbal memory.
Using RTI to Make a Difference
RTI can make a difference in students’ academic success. Making reading fun and meaningful is rewarding for the students and for the teacher as well. In five years of teaching elementary school, I worked with grade-level teams collecting data, analyzing data and grouping students by their reading level to provide the best interventions for their success. The two years that I taught sixth grade, the grade-level team was able to “close the phonics gap” and move the students successfully to middle school.
I encourage you to reach out for professional development opportunities to learn more about RTI and strategies to help build students reading skills.
Learn more about earning an elementary education degree at Grand Canyon University by visiting our website.
More about Renee:
Renee Winter, EdD, is a former public school teacher and current online full-time faculty member at Grand Canyon University. Renee has been teaching since 2005, first for the Washington Elementary School District before moving to the Pendergast Elementary School District in 2007. Renee has taught in higher education at Grand Canyon University since 2013.
Outside of the classroom, Renee is currently completing a terminal degree with a focus on organizational leadership with an emphasis in higher education. Her professional and research interests include the best approach to implementing pedagogy, meaningful learning and brain-based learning techniques in the online learning environments. Alongside her current responsibilities as full-time faculty in the College of Education, she also serves as a liaison and motivator for faculty and students.