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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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Gifted and R.T.I.--Is It Working?

Recently~ the school where I teach rolled out the Response to Intervention model (R.T.I.). My first thoughts were the same as they shared by advocacy groups such as the National Association for Gifted Children several years ago~ when R.T.I. went mainstream.

Where do gifted students fit into this model?

For those unfamiliar with the model~ R.T.I. involves using tiered-levels of support~ with the first and second tier using small-group interventions and the third tier increasing the intensity of support. In essence~ the model requires administrators and teachers to use data to determine struggling areas among students and to group those students based on their learning needs. (For more information on the subject~ check out this article Tamara Fisher~ who writes a blog for Teacher.)

With RTI having its roots in special education~ with an emphasis on the struggling learner~ the concern has been that gifted and talented students receive benefit from the model as well. Luckily~ my school named the model RTI/Enrichment from the beginning and had higher-level learners in mind.

But overall~ I still have questions and wonder as a teacher if we are utilizing this time effectively~ and if the model truly serves the gifted community. Right now~ I have infused a research-based reading program~ called SEM-R~ into the R.T.I. time to address enrichment needs. Meeting three days a week~ for 30 minutes a day~ I incorporate the programs three phases into that the R.T.I. block. For instance~ on Tuesdays~ I introduce new and challenging material through Book Hooks. On Wednesdays~ I conference individually with students while the rest engage in sustained~ independent reading~ and on Thursdays~ I provide students with enrichment activities such as research projects and creativity training using

Nevertheless~ I wonder what best practices have developed around the country in regards to serving gifted children during R.T.I. Rather than provide a solution~ Id like to use this blog to raise some questions in the hopes of starting a dialogue about what works with gifted children and R.T.I.

Has anyone researched whats working with gifted students in relation to R.T.I. Can we develop a list of best practices? Can schools prove that R.T.I. is benefiting gifted children?

Do we need to revise the current R.T.I. model to include tiers for advanced and highly advanced learners? Do we need to revisit the model?

What challenges are schools facing when trying to tailor R.T.I. to better fit gifted students? What can we learn from how these schools and teachers have dealt with those challenges?

If this blog accomplishes one thing~ I hope it continues to shine a light on the need to reevaluate R.T.I. and gifted education~ with the hopes of making it work together. Conversations need to continue to happen around the idea that a model~ originally built around the need to respond to the struggling learner~ also grows to serve the advanced one as well.