Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.  - W.B. Yeats

When you think of intervention, does your mind jump to of paper-and-pencil, skill-and-drill activities with rote memorization? But intervention can be so much more dynamic. I like to think of intervention as a way to "light a fire" in my students. In fact, with more rigorous standards and higher expectations, it is critical that intervention motivates students, not just for the enjoyment of learning, but also to engage students in higher-order thinking.

Intervention should meet students’ individual learning needs through their levels of readiness, learning styles, and interests. And it should address the depth and complexity of state standards.

Here are some qualities that you should look for when evaluating any intervention curriculum.

Incorporate the 3D’s: Diagnose, Decide, and Deliver

An effective intervention curriculum identifies students’ needs and the standards to master, and then provides instruction based on those findings. This process can be done in three easy steps: diagnose, decide, and deliver.

First, administer a pre-test or diagnostic assessment that provides a snapshot of students’ levels of mastery on key learning targets or standards. Then, utilize an assessment item analysis to determine which learning targets and standards need to be taught. Finally, deliver engaging lessons to meet those needs.

Develop Language and Vocabulary

Language and vocabulary development are essential components of an intervention program. By frontloading the language and vocabulary that is used in a lesson, the instruction becomes more comprehensible for students. Academic language needs to be explicitly taught so students have the words and sentence structures to express their thoughts and ideas.

Differentiate to Meet Students’ Needs

Utilizing the 3D’s will help determine which standards to focus on and which lessons to teach, but even within a standard or lesson, students will have varying needs and levels of mastery. Therefore, differentiation is still needed.

Integrate Games and Enrichment Activities

Imagine if intervention felt like summer camp, an after-school club, or a fun recreational activity. Students would be motivated to come and learn. Struggling students often miss out on the “fun” activities in class, but these students are the ones who need enrichment and engagement in higher-order thinking the most. Enrichment can be science labs, art integration strategies, performing Reader’s Theater, playing games, or project-based learning.

And one final aspect to consider…

Start Planning Early

The more you can plan ahead, the more prepared you will be for effective implementation. Here are some questions to keep in mind when planning intervention.

  • When will my intervention program take place?
  • How will I decide which students will need to be involved?
  • How will parents be notified that their children qualify for intervention?
  • Which teachers will be conducting the intervention program?
  • What kind of training will those teachers need and when does that need to occur?
  • Will students use a consumable resource or will my teachers photocopy student materials ahead of time?
  • Is there additional transportation that needs to be arranged for students who participate in the intervention program?

I hope you find these criteria helpful in evaluating resources for your intervention needs.