RTI & Differentiated Reading in the K-8 Classroom

By Boogart, Amy E. Vanden | Perspectives on Language and Literacy, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

RTI & Differentiated Reading in the K-8 Classroom


Boogart, Amy E. Vanden, Perspectives on Language and Literacy


RTI & Differentiated Reading in the K-8 Classroom William N. Bender, Ph.D., and Laura Waller, 2011 Solution Tree. Paperback. 208 pages. $29.95

The 21st century has undoubtedly arrived in our schools and our classrooms. Hardly a day passes without a newspaper article or television special about a school that is using iRads to enhance reading instruction, experimenting with blogging to develop students' writing skills, or adopting e-textbooks to revolutionize students' access to information. In their book, RTI & Differentiated Reading in the K-8 Classroom, William N. Bender, Ph.D., and Laura Waller embrace the technological developments of the 2 1 sl century. At the heart of their book is the interaction of differentiation, Response to Intervention (RTI), and technology. Their goal is provide educators with ideas for utilizing technology to differentiate reading instruction, particularly in an RTI setting.

Bender and Waller argue that technological developments of recent years should result in major changes to how teachers implement reading instruction in their classrooms. In fact, they contend that beginning in the next few years, the teaching of reading should look quite different from what they call "traditional" reading instruction. K-8 teachers, they explain, must embrace technology to appropriately tailor their reading instruction and intervention to the diverse needs of their students. Although some of Bender and Waller's content will be familiar to many K-8 teachers (for instance, the idea of differentiation, the most common cognitive strategies for expository text comprehension, and the basics of RTI), the authors also provide many specific examples of technological programs and resources teachers can utilize as part of their Tier I instruction or Tier Il and Tier III intervention, which may be new for many.

The authors are adept at weaving complex, current research into their text, particularly from the field of neuroscience. Information about how scientists study the brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), how teachers can strengthen their students' neurological connections using certain instructional techniques, and the neurological basis for students' various learning style preferences is presented in a very accessible manner. The research citations backing the strategies discussed certainly lend credibility to Bender and Waller's suggestions. Additionally, the authors are honest when there is a dearth of research in support of one of their recommendations, noting that further investigation of certain programs or techniques is necessary. Their extensive bibliography allows for further exploration of any of the tips or programs discussed for those who are interested.

The case studies in chapters three, four, and five are one of the most valuable features of Bender and Waller's text. They offer an in-depth look at how the RTI process works every step of the way for teachers in several diverse classrooms. First is a case study of a second grader whose teacher utilizes an e-assessment for screening and progress monitoring and a mix of differentiated spelling lists, decoding and phonics exercises, instructional book reading, and ultimately one-on-one tutoring and intense phonemic awareness and phonics lessons as Tier Il and Tier III interventions. …

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