Intensive Reading Intervention

Students who struggle with reading need intensive intervention. This can be provided within core instruction, a separate reading block or as part of RTI/MTSS.

Explicit, teacher-led instruction with clear explanations, demonstration and modeling of new skills, ample practice opportunities and guided application using aligned student materials help students achieve success in reading. In addition, teachers should provide positive reinforcement for effort and accomplishment.


Phonics is a “way of teaching the code-based portion of reading and spelling that stresses sound-symbol correspondences.” It can be used to teach children to decode words by identifying sounds in written text (see Grapheme–Phoneme Model).

The systematic synthetic phonics approach significantly improves kindergarten and first-grade children’s word recognition and spelling skills. It also benefits low socioeconomic status (SES) children who are not disabled.

To help struggling readers, teachers should provide phonics instruction and practice using structural cues (“What looks right?”), sound cues (“What do you think the word might mean?”) and visual cues (“What letters are in this word?”). Vowels are especially challenging for students to learn because many vowels sound similar. This is why it is important to teach them that short and long vowel sounds are different from each other. This can be taught through a variety of activities and strategies that are part of the Exact Path program. The individualized reading intervention uses these activities and many more to support struggling readers through the process of becoming fluent readers.


Developing an automated personal handwriting script is a contributing factor to writing success (Daffern, Mackenzie & Hemmings, 2017). The kinaesthetic action of forming letters by hand helps students to better recognise and memorise letter shapes and forms. Having good handwriting skills allows students to write for longer periods of time and provides a consistent format to help with spelling (Cahill, 2009; Schlagal, 2014).

Research shows that explicit handwriting instruction can significantly impact on literacy outcomes. A recent study found that a handwriting intervention which combined a systematic sequence of teaching letter formations, a focus on the formation of correct motor patterns and repeated practice resulted in statistically significant gains in students’ letter recognition and spelling knowledge, as well as their nonsense word reading fluency. Students should practise each of their handwriting letters using a range of methods including tracing, dots to show starting points and direction, air writing and using mnemonics to recall correct formation (Jones & Christensen, 1999). In addition to formal handwriting lessons, daily writing tasks such as signing in/out, writing lunch orders and include headings on assignments can reinforce strong formation.

Reading Comprehension

Comprehension is the ability to understand what has been read. It involves reading and thinking at the same time and requires that a person have a good vocabulary and be able to make inferences. It also requires that the reader connect what they are reading to what they already know.

When teaching comprehension strategies, it is important to provide students with high-quality instructional materials and activities. This includes using a research-based reading approach, providing a variety of instructional techniques (modeling, guided and independent practice, text-based questions, graphic organizers, vocabulary instruction, close reading) and having a strong support system for the teacher.

Comprehension interventions are typically short, one to three terms of a school year, and can be done by teachers in class settings or by teaching assistants with small groups. The intervention should be based on student needs as determined by a universal screener or diagnostic assessment. A typical screening assessment is a standardized test such as the NWEA/MAP or iReady.


Vocabulary is a key component of reading comprehension. Research has shown that students with high vocabulary scores are better able to understand text.

Children acquire some vocabulary incidentally through immersion in mature speech and linguistically rich texts, but direct instruction of specific words is essential to building high utility vocabulary. This instruction must be deliberate and systematic and include teaching word parts (i.e., prefixes and suffixes) as well as meanings and usage.

During vocabulary instruction, it is important to differentiate between social and academic vocabulary. Social vocabulary includes words used in daily activities like following basic directions and interacting with peers. Academic vocabulary refers to the words that are used in learning content such as science and social studies concepts, math terms and phonics patterns.

Intensive Reading Intervention
Scroll to top