Response To Intervention (RTI)

What would you do if Helen Keller, James “Radio” Kennedy, and Albert Einstein were your students in a classroom of 25 students? How would you educate them?

Prior to 1975, your answer would be, “I wouldn’t. They would not be in my class.”

With mandated inclusion, this is one of the questions educators face each year as they have students with all types of learning styles and opportunities for growth.

So… what would your answer be now?

I don’t know.  I know I have to teach them but I am not sure how.

 “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” - Helen Keller

With the inclusion of special needs students in the regular education classroom, the decision rate has increased due to the wide variety of learners. So, how do teachers meet their students’ diverse needs?  Is it through special education services in the classroom? A teaching assistant? Leveling? Actually, it comes down to three words: just good teaching.

Say what? Just good teaching?! Is that what you say to your graduate students whom you teach? Is that what you tell your teachers whom you supervise?

My answer: you bet.

Just good teaching means any skill or strategy one uses to help a student learn a concept or skill.  That’s it.

As educators, we are taught the name: Response to Intervention or RTI.

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” - Albert Einstein

Ohhh… so RTI is just good teaching! Now, I get it.

Right, RTI is a three tiered process by which teachers identify that a student is not meeting expectations (typically academic) and implement strategies (e.g., accommodations) called interventions. The three levels are: (1) effective classroom instruction (2) individual targeted accommodations (3) increased accommodations and formal evaluation for special ed services. Since most of you are likely already family with RTI, I'll leave it there, but this site is a great resource if you'd like to learn more.

So, I just need to implement RTI to teach my class of diverse learners. Ok, no problem… except…

Yeah, go ahead, say it.

I don’t know which ones to implement. Now what?

Spot on! Telling teachers to just use RTI doesn’t mean that teachers know what strategies to employ. Like students (and everyone else), teachers need guidance, instruction, and examples.

Thank you! You’re so right. I need help. Which tool would you recommend I use?

I am so glad you asked. Now, granted one tool is not a panacea. But, one tool can be used for RTI in a variety of settings.

Really? Cool! Please tell me what tool it is.

Well, this may be a bit obvious, but: Kaizena!

                                                                           KAIZENA AND RTI

Kaizena’s feedback capabilities are great for RTI for students. With its four methods of providing feedback (text, voice, skills, and lessons), students can receive direct, individualized instruction that is measurable and scalable.

What are skills and lessons?

Ok, real quick - skills are like rubrics. You can create a skill which will measure a student’s level of performance and the student can see his/her progress. Lessons are micro-units which provide instruction regarding a concept (e.g., addition, run on sentences) or a proficiency (proofreading, syntax). Here are some shots of skills and lessons in action:

Skills - mini-lessons (yellow highlighted teaching about comma usage)

Lessons/Rubrics - allow teachers to measure mastery and students to see level of mastery

Thank you. Go on.

Kaizena’s feedback feature allows teachers to provide instruction, including interventions. Let’s look at two examples:

                                                                  Kaizena & The Writing Process

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” - Helen Keller

Writing is challenging for one reason - we weren’t programmed to write. Our DNA designed us to be auditory/visual learners. Our communication turned into patterns which evolved into language. Think about it; we learn to speak and comprehend before we learn to write. We learned to write as a way to preserve what we heard and spoke. Add on to that identifying the audience who will read our prose along with other constraints (syntax and semantics) and no wonder even the most prolific writers struggle. We don’t write the way we speak.

Teaching the art and science of writing requires constant feedback. A student who needs additional support in sentence structure can receive feedback from the teacher in the form of a lesson. For example, suppose your student composes using run-on sentences. RTI examples include: breaking down the teaching into micro-units; showing examples; using alternate modalities of learning. Kaizena provides all that: a teacher can write feedback (a step by step process to identify a run-on a sentence); a teacher can create a lesson with a video demonstrating how to identify a run-on sentence; a teacher can leave a recording on what a run-on sentence is. Moreso, teacher can use the skills to help students understand their own level of mastery of not writing run-on sentences. Depending on the student’s needs, the teacher can provide as much scaffolding via feedback as necessary.

And that is just one topic. Replace “run-on” with any aspect of the writing process, and Kaizena allows the teacher to meet his/her students’ needs using RTI.

                                                                             Kaizena & Reading

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.” - Albert Einstein

Wait, I understand how Kaizena is used when students have to demonstrate by producing work. But are you telling me Kaizena can provide RTI for struggling readers?

Yes, I am. Here’s how:

Assuming you know a student’s reading level based on benchmark assessments, you can upload the text the student needs to read. Using Kaizena’s feedback features you can provide:

  1. Definitions
  2. Summaries of ideas, concepts
  3. Questions next to the text (either written or audio) for students to consider or respond to.

You could even do a running record of a student’s reading level: have them record their reading of the passage and then you can identify what errors a student is making and thus provide feedback to correct the errors.

  “It’s never too late to care for someone. That’s ALWAYS a good thing.” - Linda Kennedy (Radio)

With Kaizena teachers can provide individualized feedback for each student depending on what the student needs. RTI is easily performed using Kaizena as stated above.

With Kaizena, I can now meet my students’ needs.

Ahh, that is music to my ears!

 “The highest result in education is tolerance.” - Helen Keller

Ariel Margolis
Ariel has designed innovative instructional and e-learning curricula for more than twenty years. He is Director of Student Support Services and Adjunct Lecturer in special education at Hebrew College.
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