Organizing Data for Intervention Groups

The word data tends to get two reactions from teachers.  1.  Really?  MORE DATA?!!?  or 2. Yippee!

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that my reaction is more like the second one.

I love data.

There.  I admitted it. 

Now, I will say that sometimes, I have reaction number one.  I think the key is to be looking at the right data.

The reason I love data is that it tells me the answer to many of my burning questions.  Most importantly:  Are my students learning?

Nothing makes me happier than seeing a student that was struggling be successful.  THAT is what I love about teaching.  THAT is what I love about being an intervention teacher.

I also love sharing student's success with their teachers and families.  

Today, I have the pleasure of having a guest post at Tales from Outside the Classroom.  My guest post about Success Criteria relates to this post about data.  Please check it out by clicking on the picture below.

Today is Part 4 in my Intervention Series.  Here are the previous posts: 

Keep It Simple

I think one of the reasons data is dreaded is that it is often more complicated than it needs to be.  I'm all about simplicity.  I stick to a pretest and posttest.  I make those tests as simple as possible.  

If a student has been sent to me for help with long division, the pretest will be two problems.  The post test will be two different problems.  Students that can do two long division problems without mistakes, have mastered the skill.  

Some skills, especially ELA skills are a bit more complicated.  In all of my Super Star Skill packets (2nd Grade ELA) my pretests and posttests have 10 problems.  

You can use one of my pretests and posttests for free in my free Compound Word Packet.

I use this simple form for every intervention group I have.  Sometimes I give a pretest.  Sometimes they took a test in their homeroom class that becomes their pretest score.  Ultimately, this form helps me and the homeroom teacher know whether this intervention group was effective.  I meet with the grade level team to share and check in about future interventions.  Sometimes, looking at this simple data leads to discussions about how to support particular students.  You can download the free basic PowerPoint here and adapt it to meet your needs.

Set the Tone

When you imagine a teacher telling the class they are having a test, do you hear the students groaning?  We can't control all the tests we give.  We all know the state tests are crazy long.  Sometimes our district requires long benchmarks.  With these kinds of tests, the teachers are the ones groaning.

On a day to day basis though, we have some control.  If our curriculum has a long test, we can choose to make modifications.  Often, I make my own.

While the length of the test sets a tone, so does what you say about it.  A test can be a Celebration of Knowledge.  A test is a chance for you to show how much you've learned.  If you are clear about success criteria, a test is a chance to prove you know something.  When I have students begging to take a test, I know I've set the right tone.

Teaching Operations and Algebraic Thinking with Fact Families

My first few years teaching was in first grade.  I remember looking at the state standards and smiling when I saw algebra.  Algebra? In first grade?  Really?

When I thought algebra, I thought of my freshman algebra class.  I certainly didn't connect it to first grade.

I love a challenge.  I started teaching 40 first graders at a private school while getting my credential.  This meant my 'student teaching' observations were in my own class.  Since I love challenges, I choose an algebra standard for my first observation. 

I had some adorable first graders come up to the front of the room.  I handed them each a card with part of an addition fact.  Then, I had them switch places to make the turn around fact.  Then the person with the sum moved to the front and the one with plus flipped the card over to a minus.  By the time we were done, they had done what I called the turn around dance.  Here is a little 15 second video to demonstrate. (You'll have to imagine the kiddos.)

At first I was the dance director, eventually students could direct each other.  This simple activity helped spark conversation about where the biggest number went for addition and subtraction.

This year, I had an intervention group of third graders that struggled with basic addition and subtraction.  Some of would tell me that addition was fine but they hated subtraction.  When I told them that knowing how to add meant that they knew how to subtract, they didn't believe me.  After teaching them the turn around dance, they asked if they could do it again the next day.

Flashcards in Color or B&W
I wanted to move them from whole group instruction to partner and independent work, and that is how my Addition and Subtraction to 18 Fact Families packet was born.

Each day, the students had 6 triangle flashcards to practice.

At first I gave them a scaffolded worksheet so the spot where the largest number went had a circle.  I wanted them to focus at first on the concept that addition made things bigger and subtraction made things smaller.

In the beginning, I had them demonstrate at least one fact family with manipulatives when they wrote the numbers.

Eventually they moved on to the worksheet that wasn't scaffolded.  Then, they moved to white boards.

The students eventually told me how easy it was.  The numbers became manipulatives they could move around and the commutative property began to become second nature to them.

I loved how these girls decided to categorize addition problems and subtraction problems.
Patterns are so helpful in math.
Later in the year, I had a group of first graders with the same objective.  While the objective was on grade level for them, they took FOREVER cutting. So, I didn't have them cut them out before working.
Once the concept was solidified, we moved from worksheets to whiteboards.
The first graders loved drawing the triangles.
What is more fun than having your teacher take a picture of something you are proud of?
Even though I used this product a few times this year, I just uploaded it for you this week.  I like to make sure it is really ready for sharing.

I made a video showing what it contains:

While I was finalizing this to share, I realized I wanted one for multiplication and division.  The multiplication and division version is very similar.  I'm so excited to use it this year with some third graders.

Intervention Series Part 3: Organizing Students Using Class Flyers

Part 3 of my Intervention Series focuses on Organizing Students with Class Flyers.  This series shares about my journey as a K-6 interventionist.  If you'd like to read the posts in order, you can find Part One and Part Two by clicking the links.

One key aspect of teaching intervention is actually having the kids show up.  Even though the list of students came from the homeroom teacher, they are busy.  If you expect each homeroom teacher to come up with a system to remember who to send to you and when, you'll be spending a lot of time tracking down kids.  

Create a Class Flyer

My solution was to create a class flyer.  As I enter my third year in intervention, I have learned how to do this a bit more efficiently and I thought I'd share this with you.

My first year the referrals were by hand so I had to type the kids names onto my flyers.  This was time consuming and the handwriting was at times hard to interpret.  So, when kids came to me, they were sometimes upset that I had spelled their name wrong.

Sample Classroom Flyer

Copy / Paste is Your Friend

My second year the referral was through a google doc form.  I made sure to have the teachers enter the names in a column.  (Type the name and hit return.)  This allowed me to easily copy and paste the names without needing to remove commas.  This was great.  What used to take 5-10 minutes per grade now took 1-2.  I don't know about you, but I need every minute I can get!

One important tip: Have your teachers decide who is Teacher A, Teacher B, and Teacher C.  When they fill out your referral, have them always type kids into those columns.  When it is time to copy and paste student names, this will save you time.

After typing the forms, I put them in the teachers' boxes.  The first year, I would wait to give them out the Friday before.  By the second year, I just handed them out whenever I printed them.  Some teaches were great about posting them behind the current one.  Sometimes they got lost in the shuffle.

Save Paper and Time

This year, I created a password protected website with an embedded google slide.  The teachers will have access to the slides online.  I will be saving paper and time by not printing and distributing them.  Teachers that don't want to pull up the website during class, will be able to print a copy if they prefer.

My flyer embedded on the website.  I haven't received a referral for this week yet so it isn't complete yet.

Password Protected Website

I can not tell you how excited I am to have a password protected site and to switch to Google Docs and Slides to share my info.  I'm excited to save paper but even more excited to know that any updates I make will be updated for everyone.  This amazing idea came from Tabitha at FlapJack Educational Resources.  I watched her wonderful tutorial about embedding Google Slides into websites and it made me so happy.  I'm so excited about how much easier this will make it to communicate with my fellow teachers about intervention.  I also had the pleasure of attending Tabitha's amazing presentation at the TpT Conference.  If you don't follow her, you really should.  She is awesome!  

I Love Tips and Tutorials!

I don't know about you, but I love when bloggers share tips or a how-to.  I think that is my Pinterest board that I refer back to the most often.  Feel free to check it out and follow if you love them too!  If you have a favorite tutorial I should add, feel free to leave a link in the comments.

Follow Mercedes Monaco-Hutchens's board How Tos on Pinterest.

Next time in the Intervention Series, I'll share about organizing intervention data.

A Structured Referral Process for Pull Out Intervention

When I first began wrapping my mind around moving from being a homeroom teacher to an interventionist, I had to first figure out the referral process.  

The teachers at my school were already analyzing data in grade level teams.  As they found areas students needed help in, they would need to give me all of the information I'd need to help them.

My first year, the referral process was all done on paper.  Some teams used their forms from data teams.  Some teams wrote lists.  I created this basic referral from for them to use.

This is actually a copy I updated for the second year.  The second year I added the 10 days notice part to the please create test section.  I learned quickly that Murphy's Law is in effect often all seven grade levels often asked me to create something at that same time.

You may notice my referral is for "Surf".  I call my intervention class Surf Lessons.  I'll talk more about that later in the Intervention Series when I talk about creating a positive intervention environment.

The paper referral process was OK the first year, but it had some drawbacks.  Homeroom teachers have a lot to do and a piece of paper can easily be misplaced.  There were a few times teachers told me the put a referral in my box but I never saw it.  Sometimes, I'd get a referral that wasn't complete and I'd have to ask a lot of follow up questions.

My second year, I made a free website on Weebly.

I created a Google Form and teams submitted the referrals through the website.  

Some teachers are nervous about technology but a Google Form is easy to fill out.  My favorite part was that I could require certain fields so every form I received had all the information filled out.  It also records when the form was turned in which can be helpful if you set deadlines.

I basically asked all the same questions as on the paper form. 

 If you aren't familiar with Google Forms, I encourage you to watch a tutorial or play around with it.  There are countless uses for Google Forms.  I used them this year for referrals, for creating a yard duty schedule, to check in with teachers about what was working and wasn't working about Surf Lessons... the possibilities are endless.    Here is a WikiHow on Google Forms.

Now that we teachers have told me what they want me to teach and to whom, it is time to get organized.  Be sure to check back soon for tips about organizing intervention students and their data.

If you hopped on in the middle of this series, you can check in at the first part here.

Red Panda aka Firefox

Did you know that 'firefox' is a nickname for the Red Panda?

I didn't really know what a red panda was until recently, but now I love them.  How cute is this?
Click the photo to find these in my store.

If you want to know more about this adorable creature that is sometimes called a red bear cat, here are some resources for you.

How to Create a Successful School Wide Intervention System

How to Create a Successful School Wide Intervention System

When people ask me what I teach, I end up having to explain, even to other teachers.  What I do is a bit different than what happens at their school.  Often after a discussion, I hear, "I wish we had that at my school." 

This summer, I will focus on a blog series where I share how I've designed, organized and implemented a successful intervention program.  This won't be a lesson on the RTI model with triangles and tiers.  This will be a personal story about my passion for teaching students that just need a little help to be successful.  Maybe there are other intervention teachers looking for ideas, or maybe there are leaders thinking about redesigning a school's intervention system.  Maybe I'll hear from other intervention teachers that I can learn from.

So, let's dive in...
How and Why I Became an Interventionist

Part One: An Introduction
How and Why I Became an Interventionist

As my leadership team prepared for the 2013-2014 school year, we had a huge task ahead of us.  For a variety of reasons, we had been tasked with surveying the staff and developing and committing to a variety of change.  While that was happening, our principal and vice principal knew they would not be returning.  I was tasked to be the point person for gathering all the feedback and organizing it.  I also was tasked with presenting the results to our superintendent. 

This was, as I'm sure you can imagine, or have experienced, a stressful time.  One of the easy decisions was to commit to being a STEM school.  As discussions were taking place, one thing became clear.  We needed to work on our RTI plan.  

Who Are We?

I have to stop here and tell you that I work with amazing people.  I've been at my school for more than ten years.  During that time we've had several principals come and go and other challenges.  Through it all we've been a family.  Sometimes you have nothing but love for your family, sometimes you disagree or drive each other nuts, but you always have each others back.  Some of our family members moved on to other schools, but they are still part of us.  The teachers I work with are dedicated to our kids and their future.  

Our kids.  They will always be our kids.  I can't look up our stats on the internet because our population changes much more often than those numbers do.  We are a K-6 elementary school who has about 580 students.  Well, next year we'll be TK-6th.  We are one of the only elementary schools in the district that has 6th grade.  We've fought to keep that option.  We want as many years as possible to help get these kids on grade level before they get tracked in Middle School or get pulled into gang activity.

Our students are about 80% English Language Learners and about 75% Free or Reduced Lunch.  Most of our students speak Spanish at home and English at school.  Some of our families are migrant farm workers and some students have to move from school to school.  Many of their parents didn't have the luxury of finishing high school, or some even elementary.  Their parents work long and hard to feed them and trust us to take care of educating them.  

We take that job very seriously.


We looked at what we had that was working.  We had a Read 180 teacher that pulled kids for a replacement reading class that took place during 4-6 reading.  We had flexible Sped teachers that pushed in or pulled out based on needs and IEPs.  Our teachers love departmentalizing.  Each grade has 3 teachers. In the upper grades, there is a reading teacher, a math teacher, and a STEM teacher.  Collaboration is key to our success.  Our grade level teams collaborate daily while students attend specials.  They go through the data teams process together and discuss solutions for concerns.

We looked at what was a challenge.  Our other interventions changed year to year.  Often, we didn't know if we would have an intervention teacher until the school year started.  Sometimes they were hired a few months in.  They were usually new teachers and our system was to tell them to ask the teachers what they wanted.  Often the schedules between grade levels didn't gel and there would be chunks of time where no kids were available or grade levels had to settle for less than ideal conditions.  Sometimes kids would be pulled from reading for math tutoring or vice versa.  If they were pulled from math for math, they ended up missing core lessons.  Teachers were feeling overwhelmed.  There just wasn't enough time in the day for them to teach everything and have effective intervention.

Then, we thought about what we wanted.  We wanted consistency.  We wanted structure.  We wanted intervention to be a priority.  We wanted all students to get all the classroom content AND intervention.

Our Decisions

In the end we rearranged our school schedule into 45 minute blocks.  This way, all subjects would start and stop at similar times.  This built in flexibility.  If teachers and families found the need to have students go up or down a grade for one subject, it would be possible.  We decided that the intervention position needed to be consistent.  We felt like it was too much to ask a new teacher to communicate with 21 homeroom teachers and teach several grade levels.  We also had Americorp start to work with us and wanted it to be better connected to our needs.  So, we decided we needed our intervention teacher to be an experienced member of our leadership team who would coordinate all interventions that were taking place.  We rearranged things so that the Intervention Coordinator would lead the specials team.  Intervention would now take place during specials.  We wanted short term, flexible grouping that would not cause students to miss core subject time.

I know there is a lot of debate about push in or pull out intervention.  Our teachers decided on pull out intervention.  It is what works for us.  Much of what I'll blog about in this series will work for either model or a combination model.

We made our proposal and the changes were made. Then, there was the moment in leadership where people said, so WHO is going to do that job.  Awkward Silence.  At the time I was teaching 5th grade math 3 times a day.  The idea of teaching 7 grade levels a day seemed crazy.  After all that time advocating for this idea that came from all of us, I felt responsible for making it work.  I think I said something as enthusiastic as, "I'll do it if no one else is interested."

Who Am I?

While I felt a little crazy agreeing to take such a challenging assignment, I'm so glad I did. 

I feel like I was made for this position.  I've been teaching since 1997.  I've taught K-5th grade as a homeroom during that time.  I was a long term sub in 4th, then 2nd, then Kinder my first year teaching.  Then I taught 1st grade at a Catholic School for a few years (with classes of 40 kids!).  When I came to my current school, I spent a few years in 3rd, then 1st and then most of my time in second.  Then, I jumped to 5th grade math.  Most of that time I've been on the leadership team.  During that time I also was a trainer for two reading programs (SFA and Fundations).  I spent time traveling and training teachers how to teach reading.  

I've been a support provider for several new teachers as they clear their credentials through our induction program.  Even though it is a lot of time, I agree to do it time and time again because I care about our kids and want to help their teachers be their best.

I've always secretly loved THOSE kids, the most challenging ones, the ones that keep teachers up at night.  I love helping them.  I love teaching them.  Not just teaching them content, but teaching them how to be a productive member of the classroom.  I love the aha moment.  I love seeing the progress students make.  I love seeing them have moments of success that build confidence.

In a Nutshell

As I go through this series, I'll explain more about what I do as an Interventionist, but here it is in a nutshell.  When students go to specials, some of them come to me for 40 minutes.  I see seven grades a day.  Teachers look at their data as a team and refer students to me.  The teachers decide what I'll teach and for how long.  I gather and create resources and assessments.  I let the students know our objective when they first arrive and I let them know the success criteria.  Some students work to prove to me right away that they've met the success criteria.  Some students beg to stay even once they've proven they can meet our objective.  I let them.  If they want to miss art or PE to divide, how can I say no?

Surf Lessons

We don't call my class Intervention.  We call it Surf Lessons.  When you watch surfers, most of their time isn't spent riding a wave.  If you watch them, they spend their time waiting for a wave and they always fall off.  Even pro surfers don't stay on the surf board and walk right on to the sand.  They fall.  When they fall, they don't pout and say, "I'm taking my surf board and I'm going home."  They smile and get ready to do it again.  Sometimes in class, we feel like we are falling off our surf board.  That is what Surf Lessons is for.  We are going to have fun learning and when we fall, we'll say, "That was fun! Let's do it again!"


In the title, I used the word SUCCESSFUL.  I believe all students can succeed.  I've spent the last few years working hard to make sure what I'm doing is helping my students be successful learners.  I've been able to create a successful school wide intervention system.  I hope you'll come back my blog and read about how you can too.

If you are like me, you are wondering about the validity of my claim.  At our school, we have a Shout Out periodically to let everyone know what we are up to.  I thought I'd share my slide from March as an example of how our intervention system has been successful in helping our kids.  As this series goes on, I'll share some stories as well.

Creating a School Wide Intervention System

This year I taught 418 out of 580 kids.  Some of those kids saw me once.  Many of them saw me several times.  My group sizes ranged from 5 to 28 but averaged around 15.  How progress is measured varies based on referrals from the teachers.

I'd be lying if I said I'm happy with 88% and 92%.  Really, I want 100%.  Luckily, I'll see most of those kids next year and I'll keep tweaking what I'm doing until I find what works for those few.

I love that we have a system that allows all kinds of learners to get the help they need.  When we can identify one specific need and give kids the opportunity to fill that gap, that success can trickle into the rest of their learning.  I work to not only meet the needs the specific academic goals but to foster a love of learning and a belief that they can be successful.  

With a clear goal, and a little help, everyone can succeed.

I hope you'll come back for Part Two: The Referral Process.  

Be sure to follow me on Bloglovin' or Facebook so you don't miss out.

Commercial Use Photos: Tropical Butterflies

Commercial Use Photos: Tropical Butterflies

I'm having so much fun taking photos this summer.  If you are looking for photos of butterflies for a lifecycle lesson, or learning about rainforests these butterflies would be great for you.


These photos will be half off Saturday while my husband and I go kayaking.


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