Developing Effective Literacy Intervention Programs

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  • 0:04 Why Intervene?
  • 0:38 Start with Assessments
  • 1:34 Decoding Interventions
  • 2:35 Fluency & Comprehension
  • 3:20 Writing Interventions
  • 4:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

This lesson encourages schools and teachers to think outside of the box in terms of developing literacy intervention programs that are motivational as well as effective for all students.

Why Intervene?

Literacy is one of the most important things students can learn in school, yet some students have a harder time learning to read and write than others. In those cases, schools are responsible for developing effective interventions, or approaches to the instruction of reading and writing that meet the needs of students who aren't getting what they need via traditional classroom instruction. Whether a child is in kindergarten and struggling to master the letters of the alphabet or in middle school and having a hard time comprehending nonfiction, the right intervention can help students make the most of their natural abilities.

Start With Assessments

All good interventions must start with assessments that inform instruction. Without assessment, it's impossible to know which children would benefit the most from intervention. Even after students have been targeted, assessments are crucial so that teachers can orient their instruction to meet students' needs as precisely as possible.

A good assessment will determine a student's strengths as well as his or her relative weaknesses, and teachers should build from these strengths in order to make challenging areas more accessible. Some commonly used and helpful kinds of assessment include:

  • Word lists
  • Running records
  • Vocabulary quizzes
  • Informal observations of reading behavior
  • Comprehension questions
  • Observations of book discussions
  • Writing prompts

These are by no means the only assessments available in literacy, but any one of these could make a huge difference in developing an intervention program that can be catered to meet students' needs.

Decoding Interventions

Many students struggle with decoding, or the aspect of reading that deals with pattern recognition, phonological awareness, and the ability to figure out unfamiliar words in isolation and in context.

Decoding interventions work best when they incorporate multisensory approaches. Students who do not pick up decoding naturally often benefit from being taken to open spaces where they can use their arms and bodies to practice spelling words in the sky, for instance. Another helpful multisensory approach to decoding involves giving students magnetic letters and scrabble tiles and allowing them to manipulate these letters to form different words and begin understanding the way different combinations of letters make different sounds.

It's important to remember that students with decoding struggles might be very self-conscious and feel that they cannot read. Because of this, it can be important to remove these students from their peer group for intervention time. Also, give them chances to engage aspects of literacy that might be more successful for them, like writing or comprehension, before beginning more remedial work.

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