3 Tips to Organize RTI Groups in Upper Elementary

Response to Intervention is very important in elementary schools today. We must help our tier 2 and tier 3 students by adjusting our lessons and intervening on the skills that they are lacking. We can do this through small RTI groups during our ELA block or intervention time.

What is RTI?

RTI in schools means Response to Intervention. RTI in elementary schools means that we are looking at data to identify any struggling students early on so that they can get the supports that they best need. This article from talks more about the basics of RTI in the classroom. Check out how I implement RTI in upper elementary (mainly for 4th-6th grades).

RTI Assessments: The Process

The RTI assessment process begins with a teacher assessing the skills of all students in the class. This helps the school’s RTI teams tell which students need instructional interventions.

First, schools use an assessment that would be a universal screening for all students. A well-known universal screening in schools was DIBELS: The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (it is now called Acadience Reading as of 2020). Next, those students identified on Tier 2 or Tier 3 are put into small intervention groups and should be progress monitored for a minimum of 6 weeks on the skills they struggled with from the universal screening.

What are the 4 Types of Reading Assessments?

IN ELA, we focus on these 4 main categories for assessing a child’s reading proficiency:

  1. Phonemic Awareness
  2. Phonics
  3. Fluency
  4. Comprehension

So based on where a student falls after their universal screening, this criteria will be used to determine what type of small group intervention they should be in to be progress monitored on one of the above reading categories. In upper elementary, we can take it a step farther and look at specific things that they are struggling with in comprehension-such as understanding the theme of a story and target those skills.

What are some examples of RTI interventions?

Besides small group interventions like I discuss below, there are many other interventions that you can use in your classroom, especially for Tier 2 students, such as:

  • Peer tutoring
  • check in/ check out
  • 1:1 instruction
  • goal setting

How is RTI Implemented in the Upper Elementary Classroom- 3 Tips!

Here are 3 tips for implementing RTI in the upper elementary classroom that work for me:

1. Plan Your Small Groups for RTI

  • Have small but fluid groups of LESS THAN 5 students
  • Make your small groups skills and standards based. Here’s how I do it.
  • Data driven groupings – what data are you using to group students? It might be benchmarks, State testing or formative assessments. Make sure your data is consistent across the board.

Grab your FREE RTI PLANNER to help get you started and stay on track!

2. Stay organized

  • I like to use a caddy during my small groups and have them filled with highlighters, ink pens and post-it notes so everything I need is right there for data collection.
  • Next I keep all of my data tracking sheets and anecdotal notebooks available right near my group table including my student’s interactive data notebooks.
  • Have a schedule and KEEP IT! The “keep it” part is very important! Post your small group schedule somewhere it will be visible easily so that students know WHEN they will meet with you and HOW OFTEN during the week.

3. Provide Skill Based, Grade Level Passages

  • Focus on resources that are skills based. I use this Reading Interventions BUNDLE to help me teach students on their level and stay on track.
  • Focus on the different tiered steps of the resource to meet the scaffolded needs of your students in RTI.
  • Reteach skills as needed to scaffold learning (EXAMPLE: If a student does not understand inferencing, make a connection to real life- talk about birthday parties and how they are themed or even their own bedroom at home. We are looking at the details of the party or bedroom to learn about the person. Same as learning the theme in a text – we look at the main characters, etc.) You can use this resource to help with this.

As teachers, it is our job to help students on all levels and tiers of the RTI model. Our days can be busy but it is SO important to make sure that we are meeting our struggling readers where they are at and getting them the help that they need to lessen their gap! #ThatsWhatMakesaGreatTeacher

Do you feel like you have a better understanding of how to organize RTI groups in your upper elementary classroom?

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