“….Make the most of every opportunity.”
– Colossians 4:5 NIV
In about a month or less, teachers all across the country will be heading back to their classrooms to get their rooms prepared for the next school year. The place will be buzzing with activity with copiers running at full capacity and laminators working overtime. We will also be jumping into our district kick-off professional development and building meetings. On top of that we will need to prepare for open houses to welcome our incoming students and their families. We will certainly be hitting the ground running here in a month. One aspect that we do not want to see as an oversight is the remediation and enrichment opportunities we will be providing this school year.
Once school gets underway, you will be most likely providing some type of assessments to see where your students are at academically. If you do not know where they are at, it is hard to get them to where you need them to get to by the end of the year. After the dust settles and assessment results are in, you will find a wide variety of results. You will have some students who are at the top of the grade level in that subject area, a majority that are somewhere in the average range, and many that will be below grade level. For many teachers, they find themselves rushing around to develop a plan to close the achievement gap for some students while also trying to enrich those that already understand the material.
Instead of rushing around trying to develop something while you are working on endless other tasks, take some time this summer to plan out what you will do when you have students in your class that are above and below grade level. When you have a plan in place, you are more likely to execute it with fidelity and you will be more confident in delivering the interventions. Today we are going to look at a few ways that we can remediate and enrich the students in our class based on our assessment results.
Analyzing the Results
Once you get your results from your beginning of the year assessments, take some time to dig into your findings. Are there certain areas of strength or weaknesses you see in your group as a whole? Take reading for example. Let’s say you give a benchmark reading assessment in the beginning of the school year. From this assessment you might find that most students in your class need support with comprehension, others require fluency support, while others still need help with phonemic awareness. As you walk down this skills, you will probably notice that that students with phonemic awareness gaps also struggle with fluency and their comprehension. You then have potentially three areas that you need to help close their achievement gap through the year. This can seem overwhelming, but knowing this information can help you plan your interventions and enrichment program for the year.
Now that you have your data and have determined your academic needs and students within those needs, now it is time to set up your remediation program within your classroom. Here are some items to consider when building your program:
- Time- Most intervention sessions need to be around 30-45 minutes in length. This takes into account transition time, coaching around a certain strategy, and student practice.
- Location- Will you have the students work in small groups, one on one, or outside of the classroom during this time. Students who struggle with distractions may need another location.
- One Size Does Not Fit All– As you look at your results, not all students will need the same support, build in interventions for various needs throughout the week.
- Getting Others Involved– Who can help you out during this time? Can you get a high school student, an adult teacher assistant, or a volunteer or two from the community? With more people involved it can be easier to deliver these interventions to a variety of students.
- Use Research-Based Strategies- This part can be time consuming so checking this out now is a good idea. You want to get the most out of the intervention so it is best to use something that is backed by research and proven to see positive results. Below are resources to check out for great interventions to try for reading, writing, and math:
- The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo
- The Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers by Jennifer Serravallo.
- Strategies for Mathematics Instruction and Intervention, K-5 by Chris Weber and Darlene Crane.
- Strategies for Mathematics Instruction and Intervention, 6-8 – implement an RTI framework to improve your mathematics program by Chris Weber, Darlen Crane, and Tom Hierck
- Check out Intervention Central for more great resources!
Many of the same factors should be considered when working with students who need a push in the curriculum. Here are a few tips to up the rigor without having to develop a whole new curriculum:
- Time- Make independent work time meaningful to them. Challenge their thinking by asking those higher level questions.
- Project-Based Learning– Have students take learning into their own hands by proposing a project that they could work on to further develop their understanding of the curriculum.
- Seek Support– Contact your district our county’s gifted and talented consultants to help you with meeting the needs of those students. They are here to serve and support you and your students!
- Start Small- I would recommend in the first few years getting together with other grade or department colleagues and developing an enrichment activity for each unit. If each colleague takes a unit to work on, then each teacher is invested in the project and spreads the workload evenly. It is also great to see everyone else’s creativity!
How do I know if My Interventions Are Working?
After you have your strategies and interventions in place, try some formative assessments once a week or so to see if you are making progress in the right direction. These should be very quick like an exit ticket or something to see if the concepts need to be revisited in a different way. Try the intervention for about six weeks or so. If you are seeing little to no progress, get with your special education staff, school psychologist, etc. to come up with another intervention that you could try. It might take a few interventions to find the one that works for your student or group of students that year. If you put in the time now to set up a basic game plan, you will be ready to make the most of every opportunity you having in the beginning of the year.