As schools work to answer the question “How will we respond when some students do not learn?” they often start by looking for ways within their daily schedules to allocate time for interventions—time for students and teachers to drop everything and address specific skill gaps. Recently I’ve had several conversations with teachers and leaders who are making plans in their schools for this time. Having worked with several schools that have successfully made this time, I know it is imperative to simultaneously ask the fourth critical question of a PLC (“How will we respond when some students already know it?”). If Tier I instruction is quality, then only 15 to 20 percent of students should need interventions, which leaves at least 80 percent with no need for traditional interventions. If the time is going to be allocated to meet individual needs, the instruction during that time must be meaningful for all students.
I can think of several schools that have been able to make this time beneficial for all. These schools have thoughtfully planned this time using common assessment data to determine what students need, reviewing research to determine which interventions are likely to be successful, and maximizing collaboration time to discuss the data, intervention, and next steps. One school in our district calls this common time WIN (Whatever I Need) time. A group of students may need to learn strategies to identify the main topic of a passage. Those students who do not need interventions may join a book study, write a story, or get additional practice that adapts to their level on a computer program focused on grade-level standards. Students who need additional assistance in reading receive small-group or one-on-one instruction.
All students get feedback and support from staff. Special education, gifted, and reading teachers and even administrators provide instruction since this time is common across the building. WIN time is not time for homework, extra independent math work, or free time for students who do not need interventions. We all know a student who is bright and uses most of their intelligence in school to figure out the easiest way to get through—the kid who knows just how many points they need to get the targeted grade, which teachers they can charm into falling for their excuses, and (if given intervention time) how to do the minimum amount of work. If this time isn’t intentional, it will be a waste for these students. Planning for those who do not need interventions is as important as planning for those who do.
I found your post to be very informational. My school has Needs Based Intervention (NBI) every Wednesday morning. When I started working at the school, I thought this was going to be a great time for my students to get the help they needed. I quickly realized that it became wasted time. We have character and career building activities during this time that the students do not enjoy. When there is not a lesson planned, the administration does not give us the opportunity to collaborate on things the students may need help in from different teachers. I teach in a middle school, so it will be a little more difficult to come up with interventions for each student. I do feel like more could be gained from this time though. I am hoping since my students will all have iPads this year they will be able to use them to log into websites to help them practice needed skills. Thanks for your incite and ideas on ways I could make this time more beneficial for my students!
The title of your blog caught my attention! My school also incorporates What I Need Time or WIN Time. I was curious to read how other schools successfully use WIN Time. It is very important to answer the questions, “How will we respond when some students do not learn?” and “ How will we respond when some students already know it?” WIN Time does help answer those questions. You mentioned, “WIN time is not time for homework, extra independent math work, or free time for students who do not need interventions.” This is one downfall to our WIN Time. We do let students work on homework if another teacher does not need to work with them or if they do not have any questions. I feel you are correct, though. If students do not need intervention time, they still need something planned. Book studies, writing stories, and standard-based online practice are great suggestions. With one-to-one iPads at my school, there are many opportunities to engage those who do not need interventions. I will suggest these ideas to my team!
We almost lost our WIN Time for the upcoming school year when the schedule got reworked. My fifth grade team and I fought to add time back into the schedule because we found how beneficial WIN Time was, even if we weren’t doing it 100% effectively. Our principal finally agreed and added a WIN Time back to the schedule!