How We Organize Our Intervention Binder for 1:1 or Small Groups

Evidence-Based Reading Intervention Binders

In our intervention setting we create binders for all of our students, they look different depending on the level but generally, they follow the same format. The reason here is that when we think about evidence-based reading intervention it's really important that we are hitting all of the necessary components of reading and writing.

The way we organize our materials and our binder set-up is based around making sure we have activities to align with each of core components of effect literacy instruction including: phonological awareness, sound-symbol knowledge, morphology, syllable type and syllabication instruction, syntax, and semantics that align specifically with the National Reading Panel's analysis of the 5 core components of literacy which include Phonological Awareness, Phonics, Reading Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension.

We have our binder set up in five sections or eight sections depending on what binder tabs we have available ;)

We have tabs broken into:

  1. Decoding
  2. Morphology
  3. Red Words/Phonological Awareness/Spelling
  4. Reading Fluency/Comprehension
  5. Written Composition

Sometimes we break out the sections in tabs 3 and 4 when we have 8 tabs available. Ultimately this comes down to whatever was on sale or available in the supply closet!

Table of Contents.PNG

Often in our front section before jumping into the decoding tab we put a sound drill deck or the phonogram race to have it consistently available for our students.

Then we jump into the meat of our lesson with our decoding drills. Often we will fill the students' binder ahead of time with all of the lessons - this really depends on whether the student will be keeping his or her binder or if we will be keeping it with us. We have learned that it's often best to have a separate homework folder that we send back and forth and we hold onto the binder so we always know we will have it.

So let's dive into those sections a bit.

Section 1 - Decoding

Since this is the core aspect of our intervention we want to have this front and center in our notebook or binder. We use student workbook pages in this first section that correspond to the rule we are teaching for the week.

Student Workbook.PNG

Section 2 - Morphology

This is the second big rock of effective reading intervention. If you are familiar with the bases of reading you know that the goal is to create an extra speedy pathway in the brain from our semantics processor (processes the meaning) to phonology processor (processes the sounds of the word) to the orthography processor (processes the visual letter). When we think about this triangle of reading processes we may need to move from the semantic processor (meaning) to the orthographic processor (visual print). This is where morphology can come in really helpful! For students who are ready (often third grade and up) for this type of instruction it needs to be a core piece of the session. Read more about Morphology Instruction here!


Section 3 - Red Words, Phonological Awareness, Spelling

The next section of our binder is geared toward practicing red words (phonetically irregular words that don't follow our patterns). Whenever possible we use this opportunity to layer in some structured word study or word inquiry. For example studying the base word do can give us the words does and done. English is a tricky language because we preserve morphology (meaning parts) over phonology (sound parts) so sounding out these red words can be difficult.

Red Words 2.PNG


We also include our Elkonin boxes and our spelling and dictation sheets in this tab. Or if we are really lucky and have 8 tabs available we will give Phonological Awareness and Spelling their own tabs!

Section 4 - Reading Fluency & Comprehension

We work on reading fluency and comprehension together. When we work with our students we like to practice passages on a cold and hot read so they can begin to chart their growth. Get our reading fluency chart here. While you can absolutely practice reading fluency at the single word level, what we have found is that students will take speed over accuracy every day of the week. We don't want this at all. So when we are looking at fluency we are aligning this task with comprehension because the end goal of strong reading fluency is better comprehension not faster reading.

We align our students' comprehension passages to meet his or her specific needs. This really depends on what type of comprehension difficulties (if any) our students are displaying. We personally love to incorporate authentic text into our sessions wherever possible.

We like to use appropriately leveled text for this section but not controlled text. Reading controlled text passages does not generalize well to real reading. While we like using controlled text at the sentence level and in some instances to build confidence we don't like relying on this practice. What we want to see is students applying their knowledge and finding patterns they know. While there will likely be patterns they haven't yet been exposed to in non-controlled text reading, this is okay! Our goal is for students to be able to self-recognize patterns they know versus patterns they don't. When we come across a pattern we have not explicitly instructed, we will simply provide the word to the student.

Reaing Fluency .PNG

Section 5 - Written Composition

Finally, the most complex piece of it all - written composition. We find it important to explicitly teach sentence structure, grammar, and theme development in writing. We also focus on mechanics using the COPS (Capitals, Organization, Punctuation, and Spelling) checks. However, in all of this - we never want the work to be boring or dreaded. So we don't do worksheets identifying the subject and the predicate and the verb versus the adverb. Instead, we focus on real writing that is fun and engaging like Silly Sentences or structured themed-writing prompts. If you are wondering what activity might work in this section consider using the differentiated spelling list writing prompts that align with each lesson.

Sometimes Things Don't Stick...Then What?

We know that systematic and explicit instruction that is designed to build on itself is the best form of intervention for students struggling with reading and/or spelling. So if you are working through concepts that are delivered in this way, what do you do when your student just is not getting it?

Some programs tell you to stay on that concept indefinitely, you can't move on without providing a very strong foundation which means you cannot move on.

Other programs will tell you to just keep going at their pre-prescribed rate of instruction.

So how do you know what you should do?

6 Tips to Teaching Comprehension

6 Tips to Teaching Comprehension

Comprehension, our end goal!  Ultimately this is what we are working towards when we are teaching kids reading.  We want to get them to a place where they are decoding individual words well enough to fluently read sentences, with a developmentally appropriate vocabulary in order to comprehend what they are reading.  Everything we do, starting at the very basic level of letter sounds builds on top of each other to bring students to comprehension.  So here we are, now what do we do? Comprehension is so important and ultimately our goal but how do we know we are teaching useful skills and if these skills are translating to the metacognition needed to be a successful comprehender.

Today we are going to be looking at 6 specific strategies to help teach comprehension.  Teaching comprehension to our struggling readers should be explicit and not inferred or incidental.  Research shows that the best way for students to learn how to comprehend text is to be taught strategies explicitly.  When it comes to explicit instruction we want to first directly explain the strategy, model the strategy either in a whole group setting or one-on-one, use guided practice with the students and finally have them practice applying the skill.

5 Questions to Ask in Every Read Aloud!

Our beginner readers are still learning their letter sounds, so how on earth are they going to learn higher level skills like comprehension?  This is an excellent question.  At this beginner level, we are working on comprehension strategies that the students can use when listening to text.  In our beginner level lessons reading from authentic literature is so important, it's really the meat of the curriculum.  So after you have worked on phonemes and phonemic awareness and spelling with the kiddos it's time to get their imaginations going and grab some authentic literature in order to start flexing that comprehension muscle.  I call this interactive reading and this is definitely my favorite part of teaching reading. It is a strategy that I use all the way up and through middle school with kids.  That said, it is crucial with our youngest and most impacted readers.

I am always thinking about the essential components of comprehension when I am asking my questions, and you can read more about that here.  But, really these are the questions I always want to hit on when I am working with my beginner kiddos.  

When should a student take responsibility for their learning?

So this is a really big question, and honestly, I am always thinking about this with the students I work with.  A big part of this is developing intrinsic motivation, and of course, this looks different at different developmental stages.  Sometimes I find myself frustrated with students because I want them to take more responsibility for their learning but when I am feeling this frustration I remind myself that each kid is an individual and has their own speed as well as unique strengths and weaknesses.  Also, the quote below from Barbara McCombs research helps me remember the importance of building a trusting and positive relationship with my students.

The Missing Piece of My Reading Intervention

I have been teaching kids with dyslexia for many years now. I have always been dedicated to the Orton-Gillingham (OG) methodology and I have watched as child-after-child went from not being able to read to becoming a reader!  This growth is truly awesome to watch and even more powerful is experiencing the child's self-confidence blossom as they learn they are not stupid because they can in fact read, learn and quench their curiosity.

Despite this success, I learned a few years ago that I was missing a huge piece to my OG lessons!  I was shocked that I was leaving out what would soon become my most favorite piece of reading instruction - morphology, or what I like to call Magic Morphology!  Sure I taught adding vowel suffixes to silent-e words means you have to drop the e, or that adding -s makes things more than one, but I wasn't explicitly teaching it in each and every session!

Why SLPs are Uniquely Qualified to Support Students with Dyslexia

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are one of the best professionals to support students with dyslexia but often feel under qualified from the educational and reading perspective to help these struggling students.

We know that dyslexia is a language-based learning disability and so often the students that are referred to speech early on for early language struggles are the same students that wind up working with reading interventionists later on.

But the interesting thing is that SLPs really could be the best professional to take these students all the way through their journey of dyslexia. 

Why Are We Waiting? ... Providing High-Quality Intervention Before They Fail

Study after study tells us that the earlier we intervene when it comes to dyslexia the better.  We know that we can see indicators of dyslexia in children as early as 3 & 4 years old using early measures of academic and speech-language development and reviewing family history. By working with these students that have red flags we can make significant progress early on and change the long term outcome of their reading potential.  In other words, we can have a life changing effect on kids that may otherwise significantly struggle to learn how to read.  

One Major Reason Your Reading Intervention May Not Be Working

One Major Reason Your Reading Intervention May Not Be Working

So we go to all the classes and training seminars and know exactly what we need to deliver high-quality reading intervention. We have a scope and sequence and well-designed intervention program based on hitting all the core components of reading, and we are individualizing the program based on student need but sometimes even with all of that - progress seems to be lackluster at best.

We recognized early on, that beyond all of the typical necessities of providing evidence-based reading intervention there was another key ingredient that was absolutely necessary to get consistent growth from our students.

Multi-sensory Reading Explained

Multi-sensory Reading Explained

Multi-sensory instruction is a very frequently used term, but what in the world does it really mean? Simply put, it’s a method of teaching that encourages children to use more than one sense at a time during reading instruction. Instead of just asking the child to read the words on a page silently in their head, you'll teach them to engage their senses beyond sight.

Why OG isn't Working and What You Can Do About It

Why OG isn't Working and What You Can Do About It

So obviously, we believe very much in the power of Orton-Gillingham (OG) instruction. But we have been around long enough to know that sometimes, for whatever reason students just don't make the progress we expected. So the questions we always come back to are: Why does this happen? and What can we do about it?

Are Our Readers Really Reading?

Are Our Readers Really Reading?

Dyslexia is often referred to as a hidden disability because it can go undetected for so long. On the surface, everything looks fine. It has been my experience that dyslexic students are good at coping, they know how to play school. They work hard, they are highly verbal, love to answer questions in class, they are curious, can make the most amazing connections, and at an early age – when texts are predictable, repetitive, and have strong picture support – these students can look like readers. It’s not until you dig deeper and begin to analyze their phonemic awareness skills or their ability to rhyme and manipulate sounds that you may realize there is a hiccup.

Structured Literacy Components

Structured Literacy Components

One of the reasons Orton-Gillingham (OG) instruction is so effective is that it is individualized to the student. Many students with specific reading disorders (dyslexia or oral and written language disorder) really struggle in several areas targeted in a structured literacy lesson. It is important for the interventionist to zero-in on the areas specifically that are causing the most difficulty for each individual student.

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