Literacy Framework to Support RtI

This year we were Formally introduced to the RtI process.  We learned about interventions versus strategies and the RtI process versus the IAT process.  But we quickly discovered that we did not have the right structures in place to make the RtI process or interventions successful; leaving us feeling frustrated and that we were doing things all wrong.

I've been contemplating how to write up this blog post for a few weeks now.  Going through change can be hard but it is also the nature of our profession.  We learn. We grow.  We change.   Many times it can be hard to be brutally honest with ourselves and others.  But I wanted to share with you (honestly) the struggles that my school has gone through this year because your school may be feeling something similar.

My little school is comprised of four Kindergarten, three first grade, and three second grade classes.  They are departmentalized and the Title I teachers push into the classrooms.  Everyone meets vertically twice a week to discuss successes, struggles, and ways that we can help each other out.  All the teachers are working hard to do the best for their students.

After some data analysis and conversations, we discovered that the first thing we actually needed to do was examine our Core instruction to determine our strengths and gaps.  We could not really build the structures for a successful RtI process in our school until we had solid, strong, and consistent Core instruction, as a building.  We started immediately.

The first step we took: Analyze the Instruction

I wrote down every literacy standard and broke up the chart paper into K, 1st, 2nd.  The teachers then wrote down the strategies, materials, and time spent to teach that standard.  This was completed over a matter of a about two weeks during our vertical meetings or planning bells.

The next step:  Find gaps

The intervention specialist, me (a Title I teacher), SLP, and an RtI specialist from our county started to meet weekly to analyze our Core instruction.  We were looking for gaps in our instruction, strengths as a building, and the research to support it all.  Specifically we examined how much time was being spent on some standards versus others and the research to support the strategies being used.

This took quite a bit of time. Some heated discussions were had, but a lot of learning took place surrounding  best practices and the research to support them.

So now what?
We decided that one way we could support each other, our students, and our Core instruction was to create a literacy framework.  After looking at many different samples, we decided our framework would include:

* an outline of the components of literacy that should be found in each classroom (here is one example):

 * Guidelines of best practices for the literacy components (here is one sample):

* Description of what students and teachers are doing (another sample):

* Pages of resources for each component of the ELA block:
* Glossary of terms
* Definition of teacher roles
* Common vocabulary to use as a building

* Common materials needed.  We included the sight word lists that we would use as a building and some common vocabulary assessments that could be used.

After a couples months of work, we finally had a completed product.

What we discovered:
* As a building, we had a great foundation to start this framework.
* Many best practices were already in place.
* Teachers had a strong knowledge base about research based strategies.

We also realized:
* We needed to "tighten" our times spent on different literacy components in order to "free" up time for Tier II interventions. 
* We were not hitting vocabulary to the degree that we would have liked; therefore, we came up with a plan and a weekly assessment to integrate more vocabulary instruction.
* Common usage of terms would be beneficial to our students.

Analyzing the Core instruction at your school is similar to any assessment that is given to our students.  There are strengths and weaknesses.  As I reflected with the RtI specialist, she expressed that each time she goes through this process with a school different results are produced.  Each school comes to the table with a different set of needs.  The framework that works for one school may not work for another.  But  the conversations between staff members, the honesty, the tears, the letting go, the holding on, the learning, the growing, and the changing all help to create one strong framework and school.

With the literacy framework complete, we can now focus on our next chapter, "Tier II interventions."


  1. Excellent post! Sounds like your team worked well together to make things work (even if you had a few heated discussions). I hope you saw the gains you hoped for.

    1. Thanks so much! The heated discussions really helped us to grow (as they usually do!) We hope to see gains. Next year will be our first year with it! I look forward to it.

  2. Fabulous post!! Thanks for sharing! I love how your school worked together to develop a literacy framework-every school needs to do this!

    1. I hope that this post can be helpful to other schools. It is hard and a little scary to put your teaching out there "on the line." the end...I think it helps us to all grow professionally and as a community of teachers. Thanks for reading!

  3. This is certainly a helpful post! Our literacy coaches have been working hard toward a literacy framework for the district staff and it's been a tremendous resource. Thanks so much for sharing, Em!
    Literacy Loving Gals

  4. Wonderful post! Very helpful to those of us charged with doing the same thing, but no administrative guidance. Looking forward to seeing how you handle your next chapter. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much for you reply! We have been meeting as a Literacy team this summer because we are in a book study. It has been interesting to reference the framework and make a few tweaks based on the book study that we are doing. I am excited to see how it all unfolds during the upcoming year.