Inquiries of Tier 2 and Tier 3 Instruction


This blog post, the last in a series on intervention, focuses on increasing opportunities to respond in the classroom. It helps teachers assess if students are getting enough talking time and provides strategies to boost opportunities to respond. These include monitoring teacher talk, incorporating peer learning, and using various response methods. The key takeaway is to tailor interventions and constantly evaluate instruction for effectiveness.

Part 4: Intensifying Instruction By Increasing Opportunities to Respond

This blog post is the final installment in our four-part series on Tier 2 and 3 intervention practices. We’ve been focusing on ways to intensify instruction that are within a teacher’s control. This final blog post focuses on the intensification strategy of increasing opportunities to respond as found here in the Supplemental and Intensive Tiers Guide. In other words, “Am I giving my students enough time to talk about their learning or am I talking too much/is there too much idle time?

Self-Reflect: Are Your Students Getting Enough Talking Time?

Consider these questions:

  • Do I see an increased need to closely monitor student responses for accuracy?
    • Are my students being more careless with their work so I have to watch them more closely than before?
  • Are my students improving when I give them opportunities to have their errors corrected?
    • This may seem like a no-brainer, but can surprisingly be overlooked or untapped with busy schedules and large rosters of students.
  • Is student engagement low?
  • Are my students’ attention spans and engagement abilities fading during my instruction?
    • Consider why this may be from a viewpoint of something I can control (not that they are teenagers or they didn’t get enough sleep, or they have ADHD, or they don’t love the topic, etc. – what is in MY CONTROL)
  • Am I noticing any students demonstrating inappropriate behaviors during my instruction?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, your student may benefit from receiving an intensification by increasing embedded learning opportunities. In order to accomplish this, consider these suggestions.

How to Increase Opportunities to Respond

Monitor teacher talk vs. learner talk

Reflect on and be cognizant of how much time you are spending talking to your students vs. how much time you are allowing your students to talk about what they are learning. It is well-known that people learn best the more they are involved with the learning process. This learning pyramid demonstrates how the vast majority of effective ways of learning are all active and social methods, while the passive teaching methods are found to have the lowest knowledge retention rates, according to research. This does not mean explicit teaching is ineffective, explicit teaching is essential! It simply means teachers must include active learning among students.

The learning pyramid demonstrating passive teaching methods and participatory teaching methods and percentages of knowledge retention rates across several different categories

Provide increased practice with generalization, explicit skill and concept transfer 

Are you assigning homework the first day students have been taught a new skill? Many will most likely not be ready to practice the skill independently and may need more practice generalizing and may also need more explicit instruction and support with the skill so they can transfer the skill to previous learning. Allow for multiple opportunities for students to learn the skill, not a “one and done” concept.

In addition, curriculum may only dedicate one lesson to a particular skill. But remember that teachers teach students, not a program. Reflect on students’ success in the skill, not on turning the page to the next page in the program. Utilize Exit Slips, formative assessments, and feedback from students in class to inform your instruction to determine if you need to reteach a skill and dig deeper into the content so ALL students learn.

Increase use of peer learning, volunteers, home supports, parent practice, and/or technology

It takes a village! Teaching a child is no easy feat and is best accomplished as a collaborative effort. Tap into your resources within your school, administration, families, and community, and consider thinking outside the box. There are many grants available nationwide if you feel you are lacking resources to support your needs!

Increase use of choral responding, response cards, partner response, brief written response, rapid rate of response, think-pair-share, and/or wait time

We know daily explicit teaching is the foundation of all effective teaching and having active, engaged students is just as essential. The methods of how teachers can activate and engage their students should vary. Intensification of these strategies could be by way of simply increasing the use of strategies students enjoy or learning new ways to actively engage them. Maybe try a technologically-based method?

Implement brief practice opportunities strategically throughout the day

This may look different for varying age levels of students, but when focusing on students who are intervention students who are struggling with skills, breaking down skills is helpful for confidence-building as well as a method of not overwhelming the student. When students feel success, they seek more success.

Provide opportunities for application of specific skills and concepts across all content areas

Learning a new skill is more challenging when students do not see the practicality of the skill – “When will I ever need to use this in my life?” Math teachers hear this one often that can be answered with a story problem with very little information and the students must discover what information they need in order to solve the problem. English teachers used to hear it in the past and now writing is interwoven into Social Studies classes and Health in order for students to demonstrate their knowledge of their content while simultaneously practicing their grammar, vocabulary, and other writing skills.

Use peer-mediated practice

This collaborative practice must be explicitly taught with specific and clear expectations and consistently moderated for effectiveness and compliance. When done with fidelity, students can learn a lot from each other and support one another in a safe environment if paired correctly with a classmate who is not too far removed from their cognitive or social level (don’t put your highest achiever with your lowest achiever or your loudest kid with your quietest kid).

A Reminder and Next Steps

The most important aspect of any intervention whether you are providing Tier 2, Tier 3, or even a classwide intervention, is that it is meant to be flexible based on the needs of your students. Educators must always evaluate student progress and the effectiveness of their instruction to provide the best opportunities for ALL students.

If you would like further information, contact one of your Literacy Consultants at Central Rivers AEA and check out our Literacy website or from the Supplemental and Intensive Tiers Guide.

To check out other posts in this series, click below!

Part 1: Intensifying Instruction by Increasing Quality Interactions

Part 2: Intensifying Instruction By Increasing Learner Engagement

Part 3: Intensifying Instruction By Increasing Embedded Learning Opportunities