RTI in elementary schools: upper elementary

RTI in Elementary Schools: Upper Elementary

RTI in elementary schools has been widely adopted by many schools across the nation as a proactive way to respond to students with academic or behavioral concerns. The word intervention is KEY to understanding what RTI is all about. The main goal is to INTERVENE before students fall too far behind on skills.

For a lot of teachers implementing RTI in upper elementary grades, it can mean that the gap of struggling students and on-grade level students can be very WIDE by this point in their elementary career. Many times, students are unsure of how to master a standard, and as a teacher, you need to figure out WHAT is missing for that student to help them master the standard.

Response to Intervention Scaffolded Intervention sheets for 4th, 5th and 6th grades

What does RTI Mean in Elementary School?

In case you are new to this term or the world of education, RTI stands for Response to Intervention. RTI in elementary schools means that basically we are looking at data to identify any struggling readers early on so that they can get the supports that they best need. There are 3 levels of support, with tier 3 being the MOST intensive individualized instruction (typically this would be where students receiving special education services fall).

RTI levels of support

What are Some Examples of RTI Interventions?

It is our job to make sure we are meeting the needs of ALL learners in our classroom, no matter the level. In upper elementary, there are some main RTI interventions that I typically focus on with my struggling readers:

1. Have Small but FLUID groups

Working with 1-5 students at a time during reading groups has always been the right number for me. This allows me to give students that need 1:1 attention during small group time, that direct attention.

Using exit tickets weekly to determine the movement of students to and from tiered groups is critical for data tracking. I use this resource as exit tickets to help collect formative data on students and help determine the movement to and from groups.

Groups should be no larger than 5 students, and can be as little as just 1 student for 1:1 intensive instruction if you see fit.

RTI groups should be no larger than 5 students

2. Be DATA driven

All RTI groups and individual student goals should be based on data tracking.

You can collect data with exit tickets, benchmark assessments, state testing data and teacher made assessments.

It’s important for students to understand their data and growth overtime. If you have a data tracking wall in your classroom, make sure your students understand its purpose and function. A great way for students to interact and track their own data overtime is with their own data notebooks. I’ve used data tracking notebooks with 3rd-6th graders and it truly creates the buy-in teachers want and desire from their students as they watch them excel day in and day out.

Another great way for students to see their own growth is through a Goals Set/Goals Met chart. I have students complete a GOAL SET/ GOAL MET sheet during group time so that they are taking ownership of their goals and know what they need to work on during ELA. You can grab it for FREE if you need it!

Have students complete a goal setting sheet during RTI groups

3. Skill-Based Focus

Stay laser focused in your intervention. When working with a student that is struggling, it’s important for the student to understand the end goal. In reality, we know we will have students that will struggle with fluency and comprehension along the way. I focus on fluency, context clues and phonemic awareness using passages that address the skill. You can find everything that you need in this Reading Interventions RTI BUNDLE.

This resource includes 57 ready-to-print RTI tiered, laser-focused resources for all Informational Text and Reading Literature Standards in 4th, 5th, and 6th Grade.

Reading Interventions Bundle

How Can I Help Struggling Readers in Upper Elementary?

I get asked this question a lot as an ELA teacher. I always give my 3 main RTI interventions listed above.

I think the most important thing honestly is to remember to meet students where they are at.

If you are a 5th grade teacher and have two students reading on a 2nd grade level, it is going to be hard for them to do a lot of the ELA related activities at grade level. Have appropriate chapter books for their age but have scaffolded interventions that can work on some of those specific skills they are missing to try and help bridge the gap. (Sometimes it’s even as simple as missing phonics skills).

RTI in elementary schools scaffolded interventions resource

3 Resources to Help with RTI in Elementary Schools: 4th, 5th and 6th Grades

These are the 3 resources that I use to help scaffold interventions without going crazy with 10 hours of planning each week to meet students where they are at. Let’s be honest-we already have enough on our plates! This is EXACTLY why I created these resources to #MakeYourTeacherLifeEasier.

Besides RTI, you can also use these products for:

✔️Formative assessments (in small group or whole group)

✔️Exit tickets

✔️Step 1 as an introduction to a standard

✔️Independent Reader’s Workshop activity 

✔️Homework resource

✔️Test prep resource

Do you feel like you have a good understanding of how to implement RTI in your elementary classroom?

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