MS Effective Instruction

 By Dean Richards

By Dean Richards

Often when teams start thinking about Multi-Tired Systems of Support, conversations begin to slide into the supports that are needed for our most struggling students.  While instructional and behavior interventions are a key piece of a strong school system, the heart of the school lies in every day core classes.  The first level of instructional supports for struggling students always occurs in core classes.

Across all subject areas, ELA, Math, Social Studies, Science and beyond, digging deep into the content will require reading. The Institute for Educational Sciences has looked at the research and given five recommendations.  These recommendations provide guidance to core teachers. 

The first recommendation is to provide explicit vocabulary.  This includes an instructional routine with distributed practice rather than just looking up words in the dictionary or glossary and filling in a work sheet.  

The second recommendation is direct and explicit instruction in comprehension.  The use of instructional routines before, during and after will aid all students in the thinking of text.   

Recommendations 1 and 2 both have instructional moves that can be found on

Recommendation three emphasizes the importance of discussion about text.  As we ask purposeful questions for discussion, keeping the questions bound to the text and asking for evidence is key.  Discussions also do not need to run through the teacher.  Speaking and Listening standard 1 asks students to engage in purposeful conversations with a variety of partners.  Structured purposeful partnerships is a great way to work toward this standard.
Motivation and engagement are always a struggle with middle school age students.  This is the focus of recommendation four.  Kelley Gallagher, teacher and author writes that there is a difference between liking a text and gleaning information from a text. Finding ways to provide a meaningful connection between content and within content is likely to increase student motivation.  Additionally, recommendation four suggests providing ways to increase student choice in the text they read, “Empowering students to make decisions about topics, forms of communication, and selections of materials encourages them to assume greater ownership and responsibility for their engagement in learning.”
The last recommendation is to provide interventions for struggling students.  While this is a part of a good MTSS system, we cannot close the gaps of struggling readers during one period a day.  So it falls on ALL teachers to employ the recommendations across the day in order for us to help our students have a full option graduation.

To learn more about the Improving Adolescent Literacy IES Practice Guide follow this link: