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Instructional Practices

Kagan Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning is a teaching arrangement that refers to small, heterogeneous groups of students working together to achieve a common goal (Kagan, 1994). Students work together to learn and are responsible for their teammates' learning as well as their own. The basic elements are:
1. Positive Interdependence - occurs when gains of individuals or teams are positively correlated.
2. Individual Accountability - occurs when all students in a group are held accountable for doing a share of the work and for mastery of the material to be learned.
3. Equal Participation - occurs when each member of the group is afforded equal shares of responsibility and input.
4. Simultaneous Interaction - occurs when class time is designed to allow many student interactions during the period.

Response to Instruction and Intervention

Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI2) is a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. The RTI2 process begins with high-quality instruction and universal screening of all children in the general education classroom. Struggling learners are provided with interventions at increasing levels of intensity to accelerate their rate of learning. These services may be provided by a variety of personnel, including general education teachers, special educators, and specialists. Progress is closely monitored to assess both the learning rate and level of performance of individual students. Educational decisions about the intensity and duration of interventions are based on individual student response to instruction. RTI2 is designed for use when making decisions in both general education and special education, creating a well-integrated system of instruction and intervention guided by child outcome data.

For RTI2 implementation to work well, the following essential components must be implemented with fidelity and in a rigorous manner:

  • High-quality, scientifically based classroom instruction. All students receive high-quality, research-based instruction in the general education classroom.
  • Ongoing student assessment. Universal screening and progress monitoring provide information about a student’s learning rate and level of achievement, both individually and in comparison with the peer group. These data are then used when determining which students need closer monitoring or intervention. Throughout the RTI2 process, student progress is monitored frequently to examine student achievement and gauge the effectiveness of the curriculum. Decisions made regarding students’ instructional needs are based on multiple data points taken in context over time.
  • Tiered instruction. A multi-tier approach is used to efficiently differentiate instruction for all students. The model incorporates increasing intensities of instruction offering specific, research-based interventions matched to student needs.
  • Parent involvement. Schools implementing RTI2 provide parents information about their child’s progress, the instruction and interventions used, the staff who are delivering the instruction, and the academic or behavioral goals for their child.

Accelerated Reader

AR is a computer program that helps teachers and librarians manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Your child picks a book at his own level and reads it at his own pace. When finished, your child takes a short quiz on the computer. (Passing the quiz is an indication that your child understood what was read.) AR gives children, teachers, and librarians feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher then uses to help your child set goals and direct ongoing reading practice.


Children using AR choose their own books to read, rather than having one assigned to them. This makes reading a much more enjoyable experience as they can choose books that are interesting to them.


Teachers and librarians help your child choose books at an appropriate readability level that are challenging without being frustrating, ensuring that your child can pass the quiz and experience success.

Academic Vocabulary

The importance of direct vocabulary instruction cannot be overstated. Vocabulary provides essential background knowledge and is linked to academic achievement. Effective teachers select terms for direct instruction, use a research-based process to teach those terms, and assess and track students’ progress with new terms.