Inquiries of Tier 2 and Tier 3 Instruction


Struggling students? Learn how to intensify instruction in Tier 2 & 3 without changing schedules or group sizes. This blog focuses on increasing quality interactions - a powerful tool for boosting student progress.

Part 1: Intensifying Instruction by Increasing Quality Interactions

Understanding Tiers and Intensifying Instruction

There are typically two inquiries we receive from teachers when referring to Tier 2 and Tier 3 instruction. The first inquiry is about how to intensify instruction and the second inquiry is about what should be taught within each tier.

 In this multi-part blog series, we will address these inquiries of practice. Within the AEA/Department of Education resource, Supplemental and Intensive Tiers Guide, there are five recommendations for increasing the intensity of instruction. Three of these are more common and include increasing frequency (how often the intervention takes place per week), increasing duration (time in each session), and decreasing the recommended group size. In Part 1 of our series, we will focus on intensifying instruction by increasing the quality of interactions.

Recognizing the Need for Intensified Instruction

As we can see from the graphic below, duration, frequency, and group size can sometimes be out of our control. Schedules are seemingly set in stone and student or adult availability can be as well. Although we would first utilize those three, the focus of this blog will be how to enhance effective intervention instructional strategies of which you have more control. 

A large circle indicating factors that educators have some control of including increasing frequency, increasing duration, and decreasing group size. A smaller circle is in the center of the large circle indicating factors that educators have the most control of including increasing quality interactions, increasing engagement, and increasing embedded learning opportunities

Seeing student data remain flat or decline? It’s a clear sign that the intervention needs intensification. This means focusing on three key areas: high-quality interactions, increased student engagement, and embedded learning opportunities as referenced on pages 29 & 30 of your Guide!

The Power of Quality Interactions

The Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) uses a layered approach to meet the needs of all learners. In Tier 1, which forms the foundation, teachers provide explicit instruction. This involves three steps: demonstrating the skill themselves, guiding the class in practicing it together, and finally, allowing students to perform the skill independently. This approach is often summarized by the phrase…

I do, We do, You do

This core teaching practice called “gradual release of responsibility” slowly shifts the ownership of learning from the teacher to the student. This ensures effective learning and builds confidence.

While some children grasp new skills quickly after a few demonstrations, others need more support. These students benefit from repeated direct instruction and additional practice opportunities alongside the teacher before they can independently and confidently showcase their mastery. This Tier 2 instruction may translate as… 

I do, We do, I do, We do, We do, You do, You do, You do. 

Additionally, some students require many repetitions over a longer period of time to process and learn a new skill. These students need help to learn new skills and require patience, consistency, and care on the part of the teacher. This Tier 3 approach may translate as 

I do, I do, I do, We do, We do, I do, We do, We do, You do, We do, You do, We do, You do.

 “Berninger (2000) found that students identified with dyslexia needed more than 20 times the practice than students without dyslexia to learn letter sequences. For example, good readers may learn to rapidly spell a word with 20 repetitions; however, poor readers may be challenged to reach automaticity with 400 repetitions, or 20 times the amount of practice the good readers require” (Birsh, Carreker, 2018).

This tells us that practice is essential. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. When a student isn’t progressing as expected, begin with intensifying instruction. Start by increasing quality interactions with the student, yourself, and the skills you are teaching. They may need more opportunities to practice the skill.

Where to Next?

In our next blog in the series, we will focus on intensifying instruction by increasing engagement. Do you have questions or want to learn more? Our Literacy Consultants at Central Rivers AEA are here to help! Contact them directly at the email addresses below and explore our Literacy website.

Jessica Kite:

Melissa Blohm:

Tina Graven: