RTI requires meeting students’ needs…so how do I find out what they need??

Well the easy answer to finding out what students need is…assessment.   The next question is what assessment?  Most schools have some type of diagnostic assessments for Literacy and Math.  If you have DIBELS, DRA2, or Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment…you probably have no problem grouping your students for small group instruction.  Most Math programs also come with pre tests or benchmark assessents to assist you with intervening.  You may need to dig a little deeper in the test results to create targeted groups for intervention…which by the way should be no more than 5 students in each group.  Ideally, the smaller the better…just don’t create your groups based on even numbers…it MUST be targeted for specific needs in order to be effective!

Here are some free assessments you can use in addition to what you have…or in case your have none.

  • DIBELS: Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) are a set of assessments used for universal screening and progress monitoring in grades K-6. They are standardized, efficient and extensively researched.   These assesments are available for FREE- all you have to do is register!  Follow this link to find them https://dibels.uoregon.edu/measures/
  • Intervention Central is a comprehensive website for everything RTI!  The assessments they have available are extensive and include Literacy and Math.  Click this link to see them http://www.interventioncentral.org/curriculum-based-measurement-reading-math-assesment-tests
  • The Helping Early Literacy with Practice Strategies (HELPS) Programs integrate easy-to-use instructional strategies that are specifically designed to improve students’ reading fluency.  Fluency is the prerequisite for comprehension.  The more fluent the reader, the better the comprehension will be.  This program is also FREE with registration and makes available a full manual with instructions, passages, progress monitoring forms, and reward system for download.  Videos are also available as well as a Spanish version of the program!  Click here to get there http://www.helpsprogram.org/materials.php
  • Phonological Awareness Skills Test (P.A.S.T) is an assessment for primary grades to determine reading needs, or even upper grades to locate gaps in learning. Many students above 3rd grade who are struggling readers may have one missing piece to their “good reader” puzzle.  This test is a great choice to locate and fix those gaps! All you need to administer are some colored chips.   Here is the teacher script past_teacher_script, the student recording form individual-PAST-assessment-form, and the frequently asked questions phonological awareness skills test FAQ.

Have fun and happy assessing!!



I teach it today, they forget it tomorrow! What can I do??

Capture their learning and make it visible with anchor charts!


Any skills or strategies you teach your students should be captured in an anchor chart.  This chart should include the content, processes, cues, and guidelines for the specific learning process you are teaching.  These charts should be co-created with you and the students and include examples and ideas designed with the students.

Immediately post the anchor chart in the classroom, and refer to it as often as possible.  This will make the prior learning accessible to students and they will allow them to make connections to new learning.  Model the practice of looking for anchor charts when the skill or strategy come up during instruction.

images (2)


You may also want to differentiate your anchor charts, and make paper copies for students to keep in an Anchor Chart Notebook.  This way, students will have access to charts according to their needs which makes it more meaningful.

Student Compare Contrast Anchor CHart

Students can also create anchor charts in small groups or independently that can be shared with the rest of the class.


Another way to keep the charts alive and relevant  is to have students add examples or additions to previously created anchor charts using post-it notes.

Check out TONS of examples of anchor charts on Pinterest…


You can also click on My Pinterest Boards in the menu above to see my Anchor Learning board!



Brain Break Foodie Friday!!

I have to admit, right up there with my passion for instruction is my passion for food!

I admit it…I am a FOODIE!!  Everyone who knows me, knows that…and I had to include a little personal glimpse on this blog.  I hope you don’t mind!!

So I think every Friday I will share something great I found…usually on Pinterest.

Creeeeam Cheeeese Monkey Bread!!


And easy to make!







 Making it this weekend…can’t wait!!  Try it with me!



Make the Most of Modeling!

Modeling can be a beneficial part of your instruction-whole group, small group, or one-on-one. So how do you ensure that it is? By SHOWING more that TELLING!

Sounds obvious, but many times modeling turns into simply telling. Don’t make this mistake! Make sure your modeling lesson includes the 6 Ws…and 1 H. 😊

  • What are you demonstrating?  Explain the skill or strategy.
  • Why is it important to know?  Make sure they understand the purpose of the skill or strategy.
  • When would it be used?  Give examples and non-examples, if applicable.
  • Where can students connect this new learning to their prior learning?
  • How to do it?  Demonstrate with examples while thinking aloud.
  • Watch out for common mistakes. Explain or show what to avoid when using the strategy or skill.

Incorporating all of these components into your modeling lessons gives students a complete picture of the strategy or skill you are teaching.  Remember, RTI requires high quality instruction all day long!   Making the most of your modeling lessons is one way to make sure that happens!


What is the single most important activity for building skills for reading success?




It’s true!  For children of ALL ages! Don’t believe me?  Check the research listed at the end of this post!

Why is reading aloud such a critical component for reading success??

Reading aloud…

  • Introduces children to genres they may not discover on their own.
  • Exposes children to literary vocabulary-which is different from conversational vocabulary- and is vital for reading comprehension.
  • Gives children background knowledge, which helps them make sense of what they hear, see, and read.
  • Motivates students to read on their own because they see reading as valuable and exciting.
  • Gives students something to talk about which also supports reading and writing skills.
  • Lets children use their imagination to explore experiences beyond their own.
  • Demonstrates what fluent reading sounds like.

Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (1998). image

Learning to Read and Write (1998)

Becoming a Nation of Readers (1985)

International Reading Association (1985)

Any benefits not listed here?  Please leave a comment and share!

Thx! J.

Where do interventions fit into my school day?


“When am I supposed to have time to do that??”  Asks every teacher at least a few times each year.  Instructional time is sacred and every minute counts, especially when you have students who may be below grade level.  Those students need to grow at an accelerated rate, and the only way to do that is to give them more time.  For most teachers who do not have an RTI program in their school, this requires some creative scheduling.

Your Literacy block must run on a whole-part-whole schedule.

One example:

Whole Group lesson

Small groups/learning centers or stations (3 rotations time permitting)

Whole group wrap-up

For teachers who say, “My kids can’t handle centers!”  First let me say YES THEY CAN!  With routines and procedures in place…and plenty of time and patience…students as early as Kindergarten can handle it.  We will get into more detail with this soon!

Another example:

Whole group

Small group/center or station

Whole group (short maybe 3-5 min)

Small group/center or station

Whole group (short maybe 3-5 min)

Small group/center or station

Whole group wrap-up

*This model may be useful when introducing centers or if students become disruptive when switching from center to center.

A third great structure is The Daily Five.  This is a structure that helps students develop independence while reading, writing and working with words daily during the Literacy block.  To learn more about The Daily Five follow this link http://www.thedailycafe.com/public/department104.cfmimage

With one of these structures in place during the block, you can see that interventions can happen during “small group/center” times.  These can go for 15-25 minutes depending on available time during the block.

For additional time,

  • using a workshop model for Writing would allow time to meet with struggling students to work on phonics skills incorporating writing as a component.
  • During Science and/or Social Studies, using another whole-part-whole structure would give another opportunity to meet with struggling students.  NEEDLESS TO SAY…this should look like another Literacy block with the difference being the content would come from your Science or Social Studies curriculum.  This is critical with the new requirement of the Common Core standards as it relates to Informational text.

Bottom line…time is of the essence and if you find that you need to have a timer to help you stay on track…by all means do it!  It is so easy for us to get involved with a good lesson and lose track of time!

REMEMBER!  Your below level students need MORE TIME.  So you may see your above level students 1-2 times each week, your  on level students 2-3 times each week….but your below level students must be seen DAILY!!  I remember repeating to my students many times that “fair is not always equal”. It also applies in this case, fair is each student getting exactly what they need!

Do you know of any other structures in the day that would allow time for you to meet with your struggling students?  Please share!!

Thx, J.

Making the Greatest Impact on Literacy Instructon

Classrooms today are full of students of the same age, in the same grade, but miles apart in their ability levels.  How do you reach them all??

The RTI answer is to move from teaching ALL of them to teaching EACH of them.  Your next question, so how am I supposed to do that??

Let’s examine one way to meet the needs of each student …through the gradual release of responsibility.


As you can see, there are 4 stages in this process…

  1. Teacher models a skill/strategy…students listen only “I do”
  2. Teacher modeling WITH students assisting “We do”
  3. Students practice the skill/strategy with partners or groups “You do together”
  4. Students practice during independent application  “You do alone”

This scaffolded transfer of responsibility allows us to…

give students supports that they can hold on to as they take the lead – not just push them into the  path and hope they find their way.

This quote and the model presented above were taken from the book…Better Learning Through Structured Teaching by Fisher & Frey (2008) which I must say should be an addition to your library and for that reason I am adding it to our Book Club!


View the Table of Contents and read portions of each chapter by clicking the link below.




The 3 Tiers of RTI


Here are the infamous 3 tiers of RTI! As you can see, Tier 1 is simply effective core instruction that includes differentiated lessons to meet the needs of your students. Students whose response to this instruction shows their needs are not being met will move to Tier 2 with a more targeted approach to their learning. This also would include a smaller group setting with greater intensity. You may still have students whose response to the intervention shows the need for even more intensive instruction which would be one-on-one instruction with possible supports from Special Needs personnel or the team in your school who offers supports for students to prevent classification.

The most important thing to keep in mind for Tier 2 or 3 is these interventions must take place in addition to the core instruction. It should not replace the core instruction. This is critical when attempting to accelerate student learning.

From this point on, I will share procedures and strategies you can easily incorporate in order to address each Tier of RTI. We will start with strategies for your Tier 1 instruction for all students in your class.

Are you excited yet?? I am!


DIY with RTI Book Club!

A must read!

A must read!

This book, What Really Matters in Response to Intervention by Richard Allington was my introduction to RTI. It’s an easy read but is packed with everything you need to know about RTI and how to implement it to help struggling students.

Here are a few of my “Aha!” Moments from the book…

Struggling readers need high quality lessons all day long if they are to ever catch up with their peers.

Good teaching, effective teaching, is adaptive teaching. It is adapting the standard lesson in ways that make it fit the reader (or readers) in front of you.

Remember, intervention has to be something that happens all day long.

Much of the information in Allington’s book is directed towards the classroom teacher. That’s why I believe this had to be my first entry into the Book Club! I love to read and learn to improve my craft so I will offer many readings for varying topics.

If you have a book you think belongs in the Book Club, leave a comment and let me know!

Welcome to my “Do it Yourself RTI” Blog!


My name is Janyll Tucker and I am a passionate educator with over 20 years of experience teaching students.  More recently I have embarked on an RTI journey as an Educational Program Specialist for RTI…or RTI Specialist.  I have learned so many valuable practices through this journey…basically I eat-drink-and sleep RTI!  I have begun to realize that a teacher doesn’t really need an RTI Program at their school to implement the components of RTI into their daily instruction. That was my motivation in starting this blog….to share practices and strategies any teacher can use to support their struggling learners.

My hope is that as you visit or follow this blog you will gain useful information that will help you meet the needs of all your students!