Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a bachelor's degree in English Education from the University of Delaware, and a master's in TESOL Literacy from Wilmington University.
Response to Intervention: A Brief Overview
Response to Intervention (RTI) is an approach to addressing the wide variety of struggling students within any given classroom. Typically, the entire class is assessed at the beginning of the school year in what is commonly referred to as a universal screening. This assessment serves as a starting point and provides valuable feedback about students' knowledge and abilities. This data allows teachers and other staff members to make more informed instructional decisions.
One of the basic tenets of RTI is that students need to be re-evaluated often in order to assess their progress. Additionally, RTI focuses on research-based teaching practices. The ultimate goal of RTI is to identify struggling students early and get them the support they need to succeed.
The Three Tiers
RTI is typically provided within a three-tier framework. Tier one instruction is provided to all students with differentiation naturally built in. Students who do not respond to tier one instruction move to tier two, which is more tailored to students' individual needs. Finally, tier three provides highly intense, individualized instructional support.
For example, a teacher provides reading differentiation in her fourth-grade classroom by letting students work with partners and giving them graphic organizers to help organize their thoughts during reading. She circulates the room and is available to help students if they need it. This classroom-wide approach is considered tier one instruction.
A few students still aren't reading at grade-level, so during independent work, the teacher pulls them aside to work in a small, guided reading group a few times a week. This is considered tier two instruction.
One or two students need additional support, so they receive more intensive pull-out instruction with the special education teacher every day for one hour. This is tier three.
Now that we've reviewed RTI, let's take a look at some specific interventions for writing. Keep in mind that there may be some overlap between all three tiers, as not all intervention strategies will apply to only one tier.
Tier One Writing Interventions
- Allow students to write collaboratively
- Give students the chance to edit each other's writing
- Teach students how to create an outline
- Provide graphic organizers to help students organize their thoughts
- Give students choices on writing topics
- Allow students to choose from various formats, such as letter writing and poetry
- Model the writing process for students
- Show students examples of great writing
- Provide writing rubrics so students understand assignment expectations
- Pre-teach vocabulary that may be useful for specific writing tasks
Tier Two Writing Interventions
- Work with 3-5 struggling writers in a small, guided writing group
- Break a writing assignment down into smaller, more manageable chunks
- Allow students with poor handwriting to type their writing assignments
- Provide students with sentence or paragraph starters
- Provide some students with picture dictionaries
- Provide students with a paragraph or essay writing template
Tier Three Writing Interventions
- Give students extra time to complete work
- Reduce the writing load for certain students
- Have students work one-on-one with instructional support staff
- Work with 1-3 struggling writers in a small, guided writing group
- Make individualized modifications to writing assignments
- Allow individuals to use a tape recorder to dictate a writing assignment
Response to Intervention ensures that all students have a chance to succeed in writing regardless of their skill or ability level. After conducting a class-wide universal screening, a three-tier model provides support and differentiation to struggling students. In addition to writing interventions within each tier, RTI also focuses on research-based teaching practices and ongoing assessments to gauge student progress.
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