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RTI: A Successful Journey

I know there are many feelings about RTI...some have good feelings and a lot of teachers feel negatively about it.    An article was recently published about RTI and how it was found that RTI did not accomplish all that was promised that it could do.

Education Week published an article reporting that their research showed that RTI did NOT live up to its promises.  Click here to read that post.  

I don't doubt that in many schools RTI is not working.  Those schools may not have enough appropriate staff to implement it,  the teachers may not have enough time built into their schedules for RTI, the school may not have provided enough training... The list goes on and on.  I have heard from so many teachers how long the process is, the disorganization, and no consistant structure in their model of RTI.

But I would like to show you how RTI CAN be successful.  How students CAN learn with the appropriate interventions.  And that in our school, students DO make significant progress that transfers into the classroom learning.

This has been on my mind for a while now and I just felt the need to speak up and demonstrate how effective RTI can be.

Effective RTI:
~  Works well if you have someone willing to take charge of implementation and improving the system every year.  Along with the RTI coordinator, appoint a committee to help you implement the methods you agree on for your school.  The committee is also there to help you with ideas and for the decision meetings.  Your committee will help build buy-in with your teachers.  You will NEED buy-in to make the process smoother and easier.

~  Needs to be systematic and regulated: We follow our states recommended guidelines of implementation.  They recommended 3 tiers of increasing intensity, 2 targeted interventions at a time, and weekly progress monitoring for Tiers 2 &3

~Has set RTI times built into your daily schedule.  It usually does not work as well to expect teachers to just fit it in somewhere each day.  At my school we have a 30 minute time slot for K-1 students, grades 2-3 students and grades 4-5 students.  This ensures that interventions do not get put off and forgotten.

~Should follow a continuum of skills for each grade level.  After you have decided what skills the student doesn't have that is keeping them from success, those will be the interventions to go back in to fill in their learning gaps. 

~ Involves parents.  We send the parents of each tier 2 & 3 student notification letters.  In these letters, we inform the parents what tier their child is in, what interventions they will be receiving and what assessments will be given.

Expect changes in your RTI program!  Your RTI should not look exactly the same the 5th year you are implementing it as it did the 1st year.  You (or the RTI coordinator) should be tweaking and improving it every year.  Find what works and change what doesn't!  Let's be honest.  You have to start somewhere and then with some trial and error you fix what doesn't work.  When we first started RTI, my administrator didn't know how to implement it and neither did I.  The first meeting we had after the folders were turned in was not a success.  Teachers had not filled out the paperwork completely or correctly.  Some hadn't finished giving the interventions.  It was not good.  So it was back to the drawing board on how to make this easier and better and how to communicate better what we needed the teachers to do.  And we did.  One huge tip- decrease that paperwork down to as small amount as possible.  Classroom teachers do NOT have time to spend hours filling out paperwork!

Celebrate the successes!  RTI was developed to help students that have been struggling.  The number of students in our program needing interventions over the last few years has decreased tremendously!  We attribute that to focusing on catching students early.  If you are a student in kindergarten or first grade and you are below grade level at all in reading, you automatically go into Tier 2.  Another way RTI is showing that it is effective and working in our school is that we have fewer numbers of students in the upper grades qualifying for RTI!  Once we get them going and out of RTI, most of those students are holding that progress and not qualifying to go back in to the program.

The graphs and pages in the pictures can be found in these RTI Data Intervention Binders.  There is one binder each for kindergarten through fifth grade.

I hope this overview helps you to see how RTI CAN be an effective way to help students be successful!  Please take a moment to let me know how RTI is working in your school.  

Character Traits Reading App

Using iPad app Chatter Pix in the classroom

We have been having a lot of fun with folktales and character traits lately!  Students are learning to use dollar words when they describe the characters and to use evidence from the story to prove why they think the character is behaving or feeling that way.  We've made some cool videos to go with these activities too!  You can play the video farther down in the post.  

Using iPad app Chatter Pix in the classroom

One new tool we are using to help us with this is ChatterPix.  The students can choose a picture from the gallery or take a picture of themselves to use.  For this activity, the students chose a picture from the book we have been reading, The Three Little Pigs by James Marshall.  After choosing the picture, they draw a line for where the mouth should be and record themselves talking.  ChatterPix for kids counts them down to when to begin talking, which is very helpful.

The different ways you could use this app are almost endless!  Another easy way to use it is for students to practice building sight words and then use ChatterPix to record themselves reading their words to show how well they are doing.  Also, students can record a cold reading passage, practice the passage and then record themselves again to show progress.

parent communication is easy using the Seesaw app

After recording their answers, I shared the videos out to parents using the Seesaw app.  Click here if you have not read how to use Seesaw in your classroom.  It is super easy and fun to share pictures, videos, and notes with your students' families!!

folktale books and resources for the classroom

I really enjoy using these books in our folktale unit!  So many great lessons like character traits, how characters change, lessons to be learned from the stories, what makes a story a folktale, etc...

character traits anchor chart for folktale Red Riding Hood

We like to use Dollar Words to stretch our vocabulary!

folktale and character traits activities how characters change

 Here, we learn about characters can change from the beginning of the story to the end.
wolf craftivity for The Three Little Pigs folktale

The students enjoy making wolves and pigs to go with our writing.  Makes cute displays too!

folktale activities

Click here or on the pictures to see the resource.  What ways do you use ChatterPix or ideas that you have for using it?  

CVC Word Work Activities

how I use paint strips in the classroom for sound boxes

Short vowel, cvc, words are an important foundation to build for students.  Students who struggle are often the ones who have not gotten a good handle on their short vowel sounds or are unable to switch vowel sounds from long to short or short to long.  We use a lot of different activities to build that base for students, hopefully strengthening those sounds.  I like to do activities with hands on activities.  Some of these use paint strips!

How I use paint strips in the classroom for sound boxes

Paint strips just make nifty little sound boxes.  Colorful buttons, pom poms, Bingo chips, etc... are great for sliding into the boxes to hear the sounds.  Just ask for the paint strips.  The store clerks are always so nice when I ask if I could have a few for my class!

how I store guided reading materials

I like to laminate some of the paint strips so students can write on them.  Then we keep them in our guided reading material baskets.  Not only do we use them to stretch words out for word work, the students use them when they are writing in response to their reading.  Some of them need the scaffolding of the boxes to help them stretch and hear the sounds as they write.

using paint strips to stretch out cvc words

An easy word work activity with almost no prepping is to use the paint strips and cvc picture cards.  Students choose a card, stretch out the word and write the letters in the boxes.  I like to have vowel charts sitting on the table to help them remember what sound each vowel makes.

using cvc puzzle activities

This activity is super easy and the kids love to work at puzzles!  They put the puzzles together- great way for them to physically place the vowel in the middle for cvc words.  Then they can write the words underneath.  My students need that extra step of writing the words after building them.  An important step is to take the puzzles away and have the students read the cvc words without the picture clues. 

cvc word work activities

Super simple- use your cvc picture cards again, but this time have students build the words with magnetic letters.  Remove the cards again and have students read the words to each other.

rolling letter cubes to build cvc words

One of my students' favorite activities is rolling cubes!  I use them in a lot of different ways.  I always have them record the words and then I want them to read the words.

chunking cvc sounds for onset and rime activities

So far, we have gone through activities to take students from hearing individual sounds and attaching those sounds to the correct letters to reading and saying individual sounds.  But we want to move students from individual sounds into chunking the sounds together.  For some struggling readers this is a hard step to recognize chunks

using word sorts for cvc activities

One great activity that we do a LOT of is word sorting.  We start out with me guiding them to what ways we could sort the words, but I like to get to the point where students have the words and must figure out what ways they could be sorted.  Much higher level thinking to do the blind sort!

reading linking charts for cvc activities

I like to use a lot of charts in binders in my room for students to read.  Some students just need that extra, daily practice to become automatic and fluent with short vowel sounds.  Again, I want them to see and read in chunks.

RTI short vowel Intervention binder

Having the boxes, scoops, and arrows as visuals are helpful to students.  

Reading cvc sentences for fluency

I don't want my students to only work with individual words.  Reading connected text is important.  We work hard to build that fluency in sentences.  Students need to be able to read smoothly and accurately.

Building fluency with short vowel paragraphs

Building on that connected text, students should be able to read small paragraphs.  But I stress to my students that reading fluently is so we can understand what we are reading.  After all, that is what reading is all about- understanding the text!

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