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An Educator’s Journal

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

Successfully Taking Your Tier 2 Instruction to a Remote Environment

For many of us in education, we are in the sixth week of school. We have created a respectful and caring learning environment, established routines and procedures for our school day, administered baseline assessments, reviewed student’s prerequisite skills that are pertinent to our instructional decision making, and identified students for multi-tiered systems of support within an RTI Framework.

Now what? How do we engage with our struggling students in the most meaningful and productive way? Differentiating instruction at the Tier 1 level matches students learning styles to the content, process, and product in a small group setting. Tier 2 students require Tier 1, general education instruction, plus more. The “plus more” is where the rubber meets the road.

Working as an NJPSA leadership coach, for New Jersey Department of Education’s federally funded grant in early reading, NJTSS-ER, I recognized the importance of supporting school leaders in guiding and coaching them with a systematic implementation of a multi-tiered system of support. Additionally, I believed in being in the trenches with reading interventionists/specialists to deeply understand how children learn the foundational skills of reading.

I have embarked on a journey to work with Tier 2 students this school year, specifically children in kindergarten through second grade with a focus on early reading. Here are my ten top practical tips for you to consider bringing back to your learning spaces to your Tier 2 students:

  1. Students want to feel connected with you and only you. Fifteen minutes of live one-on-one time with a kindergartner and first grader is critical. With second grade students, I have increased my contact time to twenty five minutes, keeping the one-on-one format.

  2. Keep it focused, explicit and with opportunities for drill and practice. Target one skill in a 15-minute session and two skills in a 25-minute session.

  3. Limit your talking. Greet your student, check in and jump right into the instruction.

  4. Model, model, model… especially at this age range (5-7). They need to know exactly what you want them to learn and do.

  5. Employ the gradual release of responsibility technique – I do, we do, you do. For example: a teacher instructing a kindergartener learning sound symbol recognition might say, “This is the letter “p” as in Panda, it makes the sound “p”. Repeat after me.” In response, you say “Great! Now your turn. What letter is this? As in what? What sound does it make?” Awesome job!

  6. Be prepared. Analyze the data to know exactly your point of entry with focused specific skill-based learning targets. For example: letter recognition, segmenting, manipulation of “cvc” words, et al.

  7. Invite parents to join the session, so they can continue to support students with modeling.

  8. Provide follow up work immediately after the learning session.

  9. Logistically, have students sign-in 5 minutes before their session and have them wait in a waiting room, (Zoom). This truly makes a difference. Every minute counts!

  10. Provide formative feedback on their progress. Use the sandwich technique, name something positive, name one or two skills to work on, show them how, close with a compliment about their work.

And remember, always tell them to kiss their brain!

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