In my last post I wrote about the course offerings our high school built into the schedule to support students in their preparation for college and future careers. An important part of being able to have a wide selection of courses that students can access is the 7-period day bell schedule.
Wait. What? A whole blog post for a bell schedule? No, but I do want to share a feature from the bell schedule: RTI.
This schedule allows for student choice regarding classes, but it also builds in RTI time for the high school and middle school. The RTI period is something I have meant to write about for a long time because of its many possibilities and potential impact on student success, including career and college readiness.
Tuesday through Friday (Mondays are a PLC late start day with an altered schedule) allow for 20 minutes of time after what is designated as third period. This time is used differently in the middle school and high school, but both target student achievement.
Middle School RTI Uses
The middle school uses the time for targeted Tier-II intervention and enrichment for Tier-I in both math and ELA. Every other week students rotate between math and ELA by dividing students based on MAP scores and classroom teacher recommendations. On an “A” week 8th graders may have ELA while 7th graders are in math groups. Then the two grade levels switch for the “B” week. Teachers focus on common core skills and content area concepts in which students need remediation or extension activities. This time is usually structured in the A/B schedule, but can be used for short assemblies or community building activities.
High School RTI Uses
The high school began with a model similar to that of the middle school, but found the implementation was not quite a good fit for the high school. Now we use the RTI period for different purposes, but still with the goal of meeting student needs.
When the schedule was built this year, classes like Calculus were given the the 3rd period time spot allowing for a 70-minute period. These classes take advantage of the extra time to provide support in the demanding curriculum. While not every class needing an extended class period can fit here, other demanding classes can be placed in the 4th period spot and students could move to their fourth period class at the start of RTI in order to, for example, work on AP Chemistry labs.
Other classes that may not need longer periods, like my 3rd period Sophomore English class, get an extension activity during that time. For example, we may use that time to dive further into the reading or do mentor sentence work or grammar activities. My extension activities are based largely on the current academic needs of my class. At quarter or semester though, teachers can rotate with the science and math classes for supplemental work within those subjects, especially as the state assessments draw near.
There are many other ways the high school uses the time to support student needs. Occasionally this time is used for team-building activities in short assemblies, Friday meetings for clubs like FBLA, FFA and NHS, or our new Gear Up program and its related career and college planning activities. Soon RTI will be used once a week to implement Character Strong lessons.
Often college representatives are scheduled to come in for that time and all interested juniors and seniors may go. Sometimes nuts and bolts activities can be done at this time, such as students surveys, so that classroom time is not lost to those activities. (As an English teacher, I really appreciate this last one.)
Even More Possibilities
Students could be pulled to the library during this time for one-on-one homework help, grade checks and meeting with teachers. This time could be used to design a 20-minute SAT prep class, college application seminars, or career exploration activities. What if a class just needs homework or study time for that big test tomorrow? There is that option too.
Using Every Minute
This only works if staff members are flexible and respect the importance of all subject matters and student needs. If anyone thinks his or her curriculum is more important or that social-emotional activities do not help students become better learners, this RTI model will not work. If everyone agrees that the end goal is preparing students to be successful on their chosen path post-high school, and that there are many interrelated students needs that have to be addressed, then this RTI period is effective.
By scheduling a 20-minute period, we do sacrifice time in the regular classroom period, but the payback is worth the cost. Support for content, career and college planning, social and emotional connections–this is all important in educating the whole child.
I enjoy working with teachers to pool our collective ideas and talents.To fill my teaching bucket in this way, I participate in the ESD 101 ELA Fellows, lead a community of practice for Bridge to College and enjoy working with the CorelaborateWa teachers.
I am in my twelfth year teaching; two doors down the hall, my husband is in his second year as an AgEd teacher and FFA adviser . Our two young daughters, 8 and 5, keep us crazy-- I mean busy--as we juggle 4-H, dance, basketball, t-ball and more.
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