Dr. Sharon Faber February 25, 2011 California League of Schools 1: 15-3: 30

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Dr. Sharon Faber February 25, 2011

California League of Schools 1:15-3:30

Response to Intervention: What Is It and How Do We Do It?

“For these are all our children…We will all profit or pay for whatever they become.”

James Baldwin

Three Things to Remember About Teaching ALL Students Successfully

  1. Successful teaching is an evolving process.

  2. It is important to keep an open mind because new and promising ideas are constantly emerging.

  3. When a strategy or method clearly increases student learning, it is essential to follow the practice as early as possible in the school year so that the students become accustomed to a specific way of thinking and acting.

5” Guiding Questions to Improve Student Learning

  1. What is it we want all students to learn?

  2. How will we know when they know it?

  3. How will we respond when they don’t learn?

  4. How will we respond when they already know it?

  5. How do we engage in relevant pedagogy and professional development to ensure that we are collectively answering these questions?

What is Response to Intervention (RTI)? What Does It Mean?

“…an early intervention and prevention process with the goal being to eliminate the future need for special education services for the child by intervening before a gap in academic achievement becomes too great. …it is not a retooling of the pre-referral/child study team process.” Lee County, Florida 2008 Response to Intervention Manual, http://studentservices.leeschools.net/pdf/RTI%20Manual-update8-27-08.pdf)

The History of RTI

  • Public Law 94-142 in 1975 (Education for all Handicapped Children Act—EHA) changed name to IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) in 1990.

  • IDEA 2004 authorizes the use of student responsiveness to scientifically researched interventions as an alternative to waiting until an IQ achievement discrepancy is established before students are considered for special education support. For a detailed history of the process and changes in the law, go to www2ed.gov/policy/speced/let/idea/history.html)

What RTI Means to Educators in the 21st Century

RTI is high quality instruction matched to student needs. The core of it is really differentiating instructional strategies for all students and providing those interventions that are research based.

  • RTI is a process of providing high quality instruction and intervention matched to student need, and then frequently monitoring progress to adjust, revise, and inform instruction.

  • RTI unifies your entire school or district in terms of looking comprehensively at the types of curriculum and interventions you have that work or don’t work and focusing on charting progress and connecting strategies to outcomes.

  • In RTI, general educators collaborate with support staff—special educators, related service personnel, ELL teachers, Title I staff and administrators—and sometimes parents in problem solving for a student or group of students.

  • A formal process is followed in which team members identify and analyze the problem, select the intervention, implement the intervention, monitor the response, and use monitoring data to determine next steps.

How Does RTI Work?

There are 3 levels of intensity or 3 Tiers:

Tier 1: (Universal strategies) All students are provided with evidence-based instruction and progress monitoring in general education classes. Quality instruction is provided for all students that is preventive and proactive, but even with the best core curriculum and teaching, some students will still struggle and need something extra. Tier 1 should address the needs of 80-85% of students.

Tier 2: (Strategic strategies) Students identified as being at risk after not responding to primary interventions participate in targeted group-based supplementary instruction that is high efficiency and rapid response—small groups with focused instruction to minimize learning gaps.

Tier 3: (Intensive strategies) Students who need more help get intensive, individualized interventions like one-on-one activities. Progress is assessment-based, high intensity, and longer duration.

Common Features of an RTI Model

School staff members:

  • Provide all students with scientifically based instruction in general education settings.

  • Screen students in academics and behavior to identify at-risk students.

  • Implement scientifically based interventions—typically organized by increasing levels of intensity in at least three tiers—to address identified student difficulties.

  • Conduct continuous monitoring of at-risk student performance for primary interventions, and more frequent monitoring (e.g., bi-weekly) for secondary and tertiary interventions.

  • Use progress monitoring data as part of a formal problem-solving process to determine the effectiveness of interventions and to make any adjustments.

  • Assess the fidelity with which instruction and interventions are implemented.
  • Ensure that the RTI model includes provisions for referral for comprehensive evaluation, as appropriate.

Source: Bradley, R., Danielson, L., & Doolittle, J. (2007). Responsiveness to Interventions: 1997 to 2007. Teaching Exceptional Children. 39(5), 8-12.
What Are Intervention Strategies?

  • Methods and techniques that regular education teachers use in the classroom to help the student succeed

Who Needs Intervention Strategies?

  • Any student who is academically at risk for failure or who is not successful with the regular method of instruction

When Are Intervention Strategies Appropriate?

  • Whenever a student is having difficulty learning

  • Intervention strategies must be in place before a student can be referred for special education services.

Why Are Intervention Strategies Important?

  • Not all students learn in the same way so most students benefit from intervention strategies that help them become more successful.

Simple Multisensory Teaching Techniques That Will Help Students Learn

  1. Cite real life examples.

  2. Integrate drawing, charts, illustrations, 3D objects, storytelling, drama, and humor into daily lessons.

  3. Use games that require movement.

  4. Make a comfortable reading area with a variety of books, comics, magazines, etc.

  5. Have well-lit and dimly lit areas and include natural lighting

  6. Use gestures and body movements to create mind-body connections to anchor information

  7. Assign work with a varying degrees of depth and content mastery

  8. Play music softly in the background of seat work
  9. Use group activities and peer tutoring

  10. Provide a clean clutter-free, organized classroom

  11. Decorate with greens, blues, and earth tones; stimulate intellect with yellow

  12. Provide rewards. Give verbal and nonverbal praise. Laugh often.

What Are Accommodations?

  • Individualized strategies for student success

Who Needs Accommodations:

  • Any student who is not being successful with the regular method of instruction;

When Are Accommodations Appropriate?

  • When a student is having difficulty learning

Why Are Accommodations Appropriate?

  • Not all students learn alike. Many students need accommodations to be academically successful.

Simple Accommodations That Will Help Students Learn

  1. Differentiate instruction

  2. Scaffold instruction—questions, study sheets, daily reviews, and drills

  3. Reduce distractions

  4. Provide alternate assignments and oral tests

  5. Use hands-on activities

  6. Give immediate, positive feedback

  7. Provide tutoring and remediation

  8. Make frequent contact with the student

  9. Seat the student in the front, close to the teacher

  10. Give short, clear directions

To Help ALL Students Learn, Try These Fast and Easy Instructional Strategies

Book/chapter/section Walk

Purpose—create interest, assess or activate prior knowledge, encourage personal connection to the text, require active participation with the text, expose students to critical text features, develop purpose for reading, develop key concepts, vocabulary, and general idea of text before reading


  • Before students read, preview and examine the parts of a book/story/article/chapter/section by systematically examining the various visual and text features.

  • Show cover, opening page, first paragraph, or beginning section and ask students to make predictions regarding content.

  • Quickly walk through the text, pointing out key information in the text.

  • Point out text features that make the information delivery unique for your content—title, table of contents, introduction, summary, main headings, bold face or italics, first and last paragraphs, charts/pictures/graphs, source, date, author, glossary, and side bars.

  • Use key vocabulary as you do the walk.

  • Have students predict what the things you are pointing out will provide them as you go along. You may choose to record predictions.

  • Return to predictions after reading.

Student Sample: Reading Guide After a Book/Chapter/Section Walk

  1. What is the name of your text, chapter, and section?

  2. On what page does the glossary begin?

  3. What is used to help you practice problems, understand new words, create interest as you read?

  4. Name some lessons/ideas/words from this book that will be a review for you.

  5. What is a key concept in your book?

  6. Where do you find a key concept?

  7. Using the Table of Contents, name three new things that you will be learning.

Anticipation Guides: (Tierney, Readence, Dishner)

Purpose—activate prior knowledge, encourage personal connection to the text, require active participation with the text


  • List five to seven statements that:

  • Address the major topics/themes/issues of the text
  • Present important generalizations

  • Are worth discussing and will encourage thinking/debate (make them argue!)

  • Do not have clear cut or yes/no answers

  • Are experience based if possible—works best when students have some but limited knowledge about the subject

Before reading:

  • Students agree or disagree with the statements.

  • Share answers with a partner.

  • Ask the class with show of hands (signaling) on agree/disagree for each statement.

  • Ask students to give reasons for their opinions.

  • Do not correct answers.

During reading:

  • Students take notes on the topics or issues.

  • They document the location (page, column, paragraph, line) of confirming or conflicting information.

  • They read critically and with a purpose.

  • They try to examine the issues with an open mind/a fresh point of view.

After reading:

Review original responses, and see if students feel the same or have changed their thinking.

Use the following questions to guide discussion:

What information did we learn that we did not “anticipate” before we read?

What have we learned by reading this selection?

What was the most interesting, surprising, or unusual information you learned?

Do we still have other questions about the topic/text?

Do you trust the expertise/credentials of the author?

Anticipation Guide Statements

Opinion Statements

1. Algebra is relevant to me in my everyday life

Agree_____ Disagree______


2. Jack was silly for selling his cow for a sack of “magic” beans.

Agree_____ Disagree______


Anticipation Guide Statements

1. There are cases when two negative numbers multiplied together do not yield a positive number.

True_____ False______

2. Amelia Earhart was the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States to Europe.

Yes_____ No______
Foldables and Flip books—easy way to take notes or deep vocabulary, key terms, content.

PIC: Purpose for the reading

Important ideas

Connection to prior knowledge




Put your purpose for reading here

Write 3-4 important ideas, words, or concepts here

Write how what you already knew about the subject connected with what you learned

Eye focus—the slow teacher turn
Think alouds by teacher and students—metacognition
Learning Walls—are not cute posters or letters of the alphabet. They are intentional attempts to use the power of visualization as a part of a long term memory for students.

  • Generate a list of essential words (the verbs from your standards), concepts, formulas, or whatever is critical that students know and remember in your content area

  • Include only essential words, etc. and add information gradually

  • Practice and refer to this information and how it can be used daily.

  • Make sure that what you want them to know is used and spelled correctly in their work

  • Create a chart/format/list for important information

  • Try using the same color for words that share the same concept and change colors when the theme, chapter, area of study changes. Remember: the brain research shows that the brain thinks in odd numbers, color, location, and pattern.
  • Place the information in a prominent place in your classroom. It does not have to be a wall.

Sorts—manipulation of content and vocabulary. You can sort anything. Sorting is a great activity to develop spelling, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. It creates active manipulation of the content and uses the mind-body connection as a part of the long term memory for students.

  • Determine the purpose for the sort.

  • Write the terms on cards or strips of paper.

  • Place sets in zip-lock bags or envelopes.

  • Students work in pairs or along to match or categorize them.

  • Word/definition; word/antonym or synonym; questions/answers; cause/effect; alphabetically; sequentially, chronologically; meaning; form; function, etc.

Vocabulary Cardsis used to help students learn content-specific terms to increase depth and breadth of word knowledge to increase comprehension

  • Demonstrate how to create a vocabulary card with students by writing a key term on the board and drawing a large, rectangular card-like frame around it so that it is in the center of the rectangle.

  • In the corners of the card write a definition, characteristics, examples, and an illustration of the term (Note: You may require students to learn other information or demonstrate other applications with the terms, which would necessitate a modification of the card features described here.)

  • Discuss with students how the card can be reviewed quickly and easily in preparation for tests, quizzes, and other activities with the word.

  • Identify a list of key vocabulary terms from the lesson and have students write them in the center of a 3x5 index card. As material is covered and content is read, guide students as they fill out their cards with the required information.
  • Once cards are completed, allow time for students to review their words individually and with a partner.

  • Quiz students over the content of their cards with questions and tasks that require recall and understanding of all the information on the vocabulary cards.
Example of Vocabulary Card for Social Studies

Compound Concentration: Lay all of your word cards face down. Pick up two cards at one time. If the two words form a compound word, keep the cards. If the two cards do not form a compound word, put the cards back in the same place. The game proceeds until all compound words are made. The person with the most words wins.

Sample Concentration Words

General #1--

afternoon anchorperson backbreaking

copyright quarterback showdown

somewhere lifeguard wastebasket


General #2

afterthought anchorman brokenhearted

teenage textbook teammate

thumbtack homework outcome


Science –


dew point dust devil greenhouse

high tide jet stream land breeze

ozone layer stationary front solar energy

Math –

binary operation

mixed numeral linear equation scatter plot

word problem plane figure scalene triangle

surface area random sample coordinate axis

Social Studies –

carpetbaggers nuclear weapons graduated tax

mother country absolute monarchy laissez faire

commonwealth war hawks timberline

continental divide

Language Arts –

folk tale figurative language autobiography

blank verse stereotype rising action

first person foreshadowing flashback short story

ABC Brainstorming/Vocabulary Quilt—can be used to check background knowledge, note key elements or information, or to create a summary or review.

  • Students list letters of the alphabet down a sheet of paper (or provide them with a sheet with the alphabet boxes).

  • Students fill in words or phrases that begin with each letter (in no particular order).

  • Begin individually, then allow them to pair up

  • Share answers with the class, write a summary paragraph that includes what they think are the major points, or create a graphic organizer of what they have learned.

Things Teachers Can Do At All “3” Tiers of RTI

What Can I Do If The Student Has Trouble Staying On Task?

On the fly…”

  • Make sure the student’s workspace is clear of extra materials

  • Use “proximity moves” – work next to or close to student

  • Help student make their own checklists of all tasks to be completed by end of class

  • Set time limits (“in ten minutes, this needs to be finished”)

With Some Prior Preparation…

  • Talk with the student to create non-verbal cues that you and/or your co-teacher can use to remind the student to re-focus his or her attention

  • Create “signal/answer cards” to encourage whole-class responses to questions

  • Write each class member’s name on an index card and put them on a binder ring (or write them on popsicle sticks/playing cards and put them in a can) to randomize the order on which students are called to answer questions

According to their IEP Accommodations…

  • Provide shortened tasks

  • Give frequent feedback

  • Reduce the amount of work given

  • Use peer helpers or tutors

  • Use visual or kitchen timer

Upon Collaborative Agreement with Co-Teacher…

  • Move student’s seat to front or other preferential place

  • Monitor student progress in this area and apply to teacher-generated behavior contract

  • Provide checklists

  • Vary activities often

  • Allow student to move around (pass out papers, stretch breaks)

  • Use study carrel if available

  • Set up designated space in room for student to move if he/she finds himself too distracted to work in assigned seat (this is NOT a Time-Out space; student should work toward self-monitoring attention span and when too many distractions occur, move to this space without a teacher prompt to quietly finish work)

What Can I Do If The Student Has Trouble Getting Interested or Getting Started?

On the fly…”

  • Give anecdotes that relate the lesson to real life, things the student already knows or has experienced

  • Use verbal or visual cues to help the student begin work

  • Provide frequent encouragement and directed praise

  • Ask student to restate directions in order to clarify any questions about expectations

  • Check on progress often in the first few minutes of work

  • Have another student restate the task directions to the student

With Some Prior Preparation…

  • If worksheet appears overwhelming, add white space (reduce “visual field”)

  • Sequence questions so the “easiest” ones come first

  • Make sure the student has all needed materials

According to their IEP Accommodations…

  • Give the student preferential seating – distance affects interest

Upon Collaborative Agreement with Co-Teacher…

  • Give the work in smaller “chunks”
  • Give clear directions, preferably one- or two-step only

  • Make your student an “expert” in an area of strength so that the other students can come to him/her for assistance

What Can I Do If The Student Has Trouble Completing Work On Time?

On the fly…”

  • Remind the student of remaining time periodically

  • Help student to plan the use of available time

  • User verbal or visual cues

  • Set time limits (“in ten minutes, this needs to be finished”)

With Some Prior Preparation…

  • Help the student keep an assignment calendar

  • Teach student how to approximate the length of time a given task will take to complete

  • Provide a copy of the text page that has the questions or problems on it the student is expected to answer – rather than copying the problems onto a separate sheet of paper, the student can write/highlight/underline directly on the copy

According to their IEP Accommodations…

  • Use a visual or kitchen timer to define work times

  • Break assignments down into smaller parts, having several “due dates” for the segments

  • Reduce amount of work

  • Allow extended time for work (agreed upon in advance)

  • Divide the assignment in half; have the student do only the even- or odd-numbered problems

  • Provide an extra set of textbooks to be kept at home

  • Allow student to respond verbally into tape recorder; transcribe answers at a later time

Upon Collaborative Agreement with Co-Teacher…

  • Develop/use checklists based on class routine to help student self-monitor work completion

  • Monitor student progress in this area and apply to teacher-generated behavior contract
  • Allow student to illustrate answers rather than respond in a written format

What Can I Do If The Student Has Trouble Keeping Track of Materials or Assignments?

On the fly…”

  • After directions are given, have student restate materials he/she will need

  • Use sticky notes to mark assignments in textbooks

  • Accompany the student to the phone so he/she can call home and leave a message, stating homework information for the evening

  • Write Parent Hotline phone number/Web site in easily accessible place for student (if school uses these homework update services)

  • In addition to recording assignments in the assignment book, have student write down the approximate length of time it will take to complete each one

  • Write each assignment on a separate sticky note. When student completes an assignment, the corresponding note is thrown in the trash. Any remaining sticky notes go into the assignment notebook at the end of the day.

  • Keep a large manila envelope taped to the inside of the student’s desk. If assignments are not completed during the allotted time, the student can slip the paper into the envelope to complete later.

With Some Prior Preparation…

  • Help the student develop self-checking techniques for remembering classroom supplies and assignments.

  • Develop non-verbal cues to remind the student to self-check for materials

  • Keep a “master” assignment calendar or checklist (this can also be shared with the case manager or Basic Skills teacher!)

  • Help student make a list of needed materials that can be kept in assignment book as a reminder

According to their IEP Accommodations…

  • Initial assignment books after student has correctly recorded assignment/project in them

Upon Collaborative Agreement with Co-Teacher…
  • Write assignments in designated, unchanging place for student to copy

  • Keep an extra set of materials in the room for emergencies

  • Upon assignment of projects, have student fill out “Planning Sheet” to break project into smaller steps

  • Assist co-teacher in updating homework hotlines if used by school

What Can I Do If The Student Has Trouble With Written Expression?

On the fly…”

  • Give specific instructions for written language assignments, such as number of paragraphs/sentences required; decrease structure as student becomes more confident

  • Assist student in brainstorming words related to writing topic

  • Assist student in creating outline for written piece

  • Ask student to tape record or read aloud draft; many students are able to hear inaccurate sentence construction when they do this

  • Highlight similar ideas in the same color when helping the student revise – this assists the student with grouping information into paragraphs

  • Help student write research facts on separate index cards, then sequence the cards into groups of similar ideas (or chronological order) prior to writing the draft

  • Insist that student writes draft on every other line (or double-spaced) to make revisions easier.

With Some Prior Preparation…

  • Keep a selection of pictures, or a list of ideas, to help students generate ideas for writing

  • Teach mnemonics such as SPACE (Spelling, Punctuation, Appearance, Capitalization, Error analysis) or COPS (Capitalization, Organization, Punctuation, Spelling) as error-monitoring strategies

  • Provide raised-line writing paper to younger students with fine-motor difficulties

  • Create a template for a standard report on the given topic, on which students can fill in the blanks

According to their IEP Accommodations…

  • Allow access to computer

  • Allow student to dictate story to a scribe

Upon Collaborative Agreement with Co-Teacher…

  • Allow student to choose her/her own topic when writing journal entries

  • Ask student to draw key points of journal entry and write captions for each

  • Allow student to use writing software if available

What Can I Do If The Student Has Trouble With Spelling?

On the fly…”

  • Add words the student has mastered to a personal dictionary or index card file

  • Use configuration clues to help visual learners

  • Have student watch you write the words, then trace your writing with markers or highlighters

  • Highlight, in different colors, base words, prefixes, and suffixes

With Some Prior Preparation…

  • At the beginning of each grading period, send home a master copy of all the spelling words that will be studied that grading period. The student can study them in advance, and if he/she forgets to bring the weekly list home has the master copy as a back-up.

  • Teach the student how to use an electronic speller or computer spell-check program

  • Practice spelling words with a variety of media, including finger paints, shaving cream, pudding, sand, chalk, on a white board with dry-erase markers, etc.

  • Provide an audio-taped version of the spelling list. The student can practice at home or at a listening center (the tape could also be used if a student was absent during the test).

According to their IEP Accommodations…

  • Modify the classroom spelling list by adjusting the number of items on the list (“shortened assignment”)
  • Help student use writing software on the computer

Upon Collaborative Agreement with Co-Teacher…

  • Set individual spelling goals; increase goal when mastery level is met on three consecutive tests. For example, the student studies five words for three weeks. When the student masters those five words, increase the goal to seven words.

  • Allow student to choose a certain number of words to learn that are meaningful to him/her, in addition to those on the list

  • Have student spell the words to you orally rather than in writing on the test

  • Tell student the number or sounds/letters when testing

What Can I Do If The Student Has Trouble Taking Notes?

On the fly…”

  • Key class notes to pages in textbook

  • Help student “fill in” areas they may have missed after lecture

  • If notes are on overhead/whiteboard, allow student to “borrow” overhead after the lecture so they can finish copying

  • Read over student’s notes with student after lecture – see what else they recall and assist them in adding those notes

  • Preview key points of upcoming lecture to provide mental “framework” for the student

With Some Prior Preparation…

  • Assist student in setting up a personalized “note-taking system” to become comfortable with the note-taking routine

  • Teach common abbreviations for note-taking

  • Teach common “cue phrases,” such as “write this down,” or “this is very important”

  • Teach student how to highlight/identify/record key words

According to their IEP Accommodations…

  • Use a tape recorder to tape lecture

  • Give student a copy of the notes (or have a peer make a copy of their notes)

  • Let student use computer to take notes rather than writing

Upon Collaborative Agreement with Co-Teacher…

  • Give student a partial outline to complete

  • Allow student to listen without taking notes then conclude with a short oral or written summary of main points

  • Trade the student’s incomplete notes for a copy of the complete ones

  • Provide a copy of the teacher’s notes after class/next day to keep with the student’s notes

  • Write down the teacher’s notes on a darkened overhead during lecture. After lecture, turn on overhead so students can compare their notes to yours and add missing parts.

What Can I Do If The Student Has Trouble Taking Written Tests?

On the fly…”

  • Restate the directions

  • Have the student restate the directions to you

  • Help student highlight or underline key words on the test prior to beginning

  • Clarify test questions

  • Use blanks to cue answers (number or length of blanks corresponds to number or length of words need for correct answer)

  • Provide an index card to help the student keep his/her place

  • Check over test at the end to make sure the student hasn’t skipped a question, section, or page

  • Provide manipulatives (such as sticky notes) when student is asked to sequence a series of items

With Some Prior Preparation…

  • Review notes or textbook prior to test in small group or one-on-one situation

  • Break long lists of matching questions into groups of short lists

  • Add more “white space” (reduced visual field) by enlarging copies or retyping

  • Maintain a record of pre-test and post-test scores to reflect improvement

According to their IEP Accommodations…

  • Allow extended time
  • Test in small group or one-on-one situation

  • Read the test directions and/or questions aloud

  • Allow student to dictate essays to you while you scribe them

  • Allow breaks in testing time

  • Allow student to write on test and you fill in the Scantron (bubble) sheet

Upon Collaborative Agreement with Co-Teacher…

  • Open-book or open-note test, or check answers with book or notes

  • Provide vocabulary list or word bank

  • Provide “second try” or grading twice and averaging the grade

  • Add a “bonus” section to the test: “What I Studied and You Didn’t Ask”

  • Cross out one incorrect multiple-choice answer to give student fewer choices

  • Create a “Best Test:” a test for the entire class with an asterisk next to questions that all students need to answer – have student focus on these


Faber, S. 2010. How to Teach Academic Vocabulary. Nashville, TN: Incentive


Friend, M. & L. Cook. 2003. Interactions: Collaboration Skills for School

Professionals (4th Edition). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Tilton, L. 2005. Inclusion: A fresh look. Shorewood, MN: Covington Cove


© Faber Consulting, 2011 www.sharonfaber.com csfaber@bellsouth.net

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