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Purposeful Planning for Back to School Success

elementary school boy running happily outside

These 10 strategic tips will help your school or district start the new school year with a strong grounding in evidence-based structured literacy and the science of reading. You’ll find suggestions for how to help all of your readers to develop as strong readers without cutting into your core instruction time. And you’ll find support from colleagues who are doing successful RTI implementation.

  1. Maximize the Impact of Grade-Level Data Meetings
    Grade-level meetings provide a time for collaboration for data-driven decision making. Direct the conversation to examining data and focusing on students and their skill needs. Ask your team to determine if the organizational structure of the RTI intervention groups is working.
  2. Schedule a 30-Minute Common Intervention Block for Each Grade Level
    Designate a daily 30-minute intervention block in addition to the core reading block. Intervention should add minutes of reading instruction rather than fit it into the core instruction time. Including something in the master schedule signals that it’s a priority that can’t be skipped.
  3. Focus on Pinpointing the Cause of Poor Reading
    Too many times schools try to use the wrong data for forming groups. Curriculum Based Measures are valuable for identifying students not at benchmark. Diagnostic assessments for phonological awareness and phonics are essential for pinpointing a student’s needs. Make sure your school has the right tools to pinpoint missing skills.
  4. Group Students for Intervention by Lowest Skill Need
    Does your diagnostic assessment instrument align with a skills continuum? Best results are possible when using a diagnostic screener that aligns with a continuum of skills. This allows smooth transition from assessment to grouping by lowest skill deficit.
  5. Select the Best Instructional Materials for RTI Groups
    Intervention instruction should be with materials that include research-based instructional strategies and directly align with the skill need of the students in the group. Although the strategies included should be research based, ask for evidence of results with students similar to yours.
  6. Explore Your Role in Helping Your School Implement RTI
    Successful RTI implementation is a team effort. Visit the 95 Percent Group site for an in-depth look at your distinctive role. Questions that are frequently asked by others that share your role are addressed. While you are visiting, be certain to look for the “free downloads” to add to your professional files.
  7. Provide Sufficient Practice Opportunities
    Students who are working to master a skill need ample opportunities to practice. Structure intervention instruction so that all participants in the group are responding together rather than taking turns. That is one reason why intervention groups are not quiet places!
  8. White Down Two Things You Did Last Year That Worked Well
    Reflect on your teaching. What worked well? What evidence do you have that what you did increased student learning? Share with your team members and repeat them this year!
  9. Support and Learn From Your Colleagues
    Listen to your colleagues. Ask to visit their classrooms. Ask your building reading expert to observe you and suggest ways you can improve. Provide affirmation and encouragement for progress.
  10. Celebrate Success
    Look for student success. Look for teacher success. Work hard to make improvements. And then above all else, celebrate success!

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