The common secondary literacy intervention we use in our district is intended to be Tier 2, based on RTI (Response to Intervention) framework. This means that it attempts, within the district parameters, to adhere to the following characteristics:
- It builds on the literacy needs for Tier 1 and should be in collaboration with Tier 1 instruction. One element of this collaboration for our model is co-teaching for the purpose of integrating the application of literacy strategies across disciplines.
- It meets 3-5 times a week. It should meet 8-12 weeks, but we must honor a semester schedule.
- It focuses on no more than three to five foundational skills in reading. We focus on comprehension and vocabulary (morphology) to contribute to comprehension, independent reading, and collaboration (building knowledge in a community of learners).
- Teachers are intended to use consistent formative and diagnostic assessments to determine students’ strengths and needs. With a focus on student data-driven instruction, teachers are supported through professional learning and by a literacy coach to use research-based intervention strategies and track student progress toward specific goals based on gaps.
Our model has only four comprehension standards, but they are dense. They are taught in units built by using the Marzano Instructional Design. This allows teachers to unpack a dense comprehension standard into individual learning targets and organize them in a logical progression that scaffolds skills for cognitive complexity and student autonomy with the standard. In intervention, autonomy with a standard means that students build independence with literacy strategies that help them make meaning of a text. This is as complex, and sometimes as overwhelming, as it sounds. However, when students are in an intervention, the goal is to help them practice and deepen the use of proficient reader skills that have long been unattainable. They need effective and thoughtful instructional processes to get them there.
Arguably our toughest standard is for clarifying confusion:
During reading, detect signs of confusion, diagnose causes of the confusion & determine effective reading strategies to resolve confusion and improve comprehension.
The thinking and processing this clarifying confusion standard, by far the most challenging of our standards/units, was born long ago while reading Cris Tovani’s classic book, I Read It But I Don’t Get It. Much of the vocabulary for the targets and the progression were shared by Tovani, but implementing them as replicable strategies that work for a diverse group of students with many layers of strengths and needs has been a long journey that continues to expand with every new student in need of strategies to clarify their confusion.
If you were to ask the secondary interventionists who teach around this standard, most would say that helping students identify, and give language to, what causes their confusion is a tall order. The targets (based on the standards above) are ordered by complexity from bottom to top as follows:
3.0 Learning GOAL Targets (“learning targets that demonstrate attainment and mastery performance of the academic standard”)
- resolve confusion (apply strategy) to improve comprehension.
- determine effective reading strategies to resolve confusion.
2.0 Foundational Learning Targets (“essential prerequisites, knowledge, and basic processes not explicitly stated in an academic standard”)
- diagnose causes of the confusion during reading.
- identify common causes of confusion.
- identify confusion while reading text of different types.
- identify signs of confusion during reading.
- describe the six common signs of confusion.
- recognize or recall specific vocabulary: detect, diagnose, signs of confusion, fix-up strategies, sensory images, clarify, text features, adjust
Over the next few blogs, I plan to provide resources and techniques for addressing these targets to facilitate progression toward the “mastery of the academic standard.” However, the challenge with learning to clarify confusion is that it is a “work in progress.” From the ways my children first learned to acknowledge their “huh?” moments and try to fix their own discomfort to the ways I make sense of dense and complex academic research, we must keep reading and growing. Students must have replicable strategies with which they can begin their journey, but as they continue to progress through the reading challenges of this life, and hopefully as we keep challenging them as educators, they will deepen these strategies and develop variations of their own. Of course, they must believe they can.
I Read It, but I Don’t Get It by Cris Tovani (1999)
Creating and Using Learning Targets & Performance Scales: How Teachers Make Better Instructional Decisions by Carla Moore, Libby H. Garst, and Robert J. Marzano (2015)
Read, Write, Lead: Breakthrough Strategies for Schoolwide Success by Regie Routman (2014)