Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rethinking Intervention by Shari Frost

I was thrilled to receive a copy of Shari Frost's new professional book, Rethinking Intervention: Supporting Struggling Readers and Writers in Grades 3-6 Classrooms. This is the newest book published by Choice Literacy. I know Shari from our work on a few NCTE committees from our work with Choice Literacy. She is one of those amazing people who  I've always learned so much from. You don't have a conversation with Shari without rethinking something important!

Rethinking Intervention is so timely.  I can see that it is going to start amazing conversations in schools around the country.  Shari starts the book by helping readers rethink interventions for students in Grades 3-6. She  identifies real issues that keep students from moving forward as readers.  She knows that quality teachers are the key and believes in teachers as decision-makers.  Early in the book, Shari says, "Packaged intervention programs give schools false hope. With their explicit, scripted lessons, they propagate the big myth that anyone at all can successfully teach struggling students to read. Their cookbook, step-by-step approach seems so simple; if you follow the prescribed lessons as written, the students will improve."

She goes on to say, "However, the most important component of a successful intervention program is a knowledgeable and responsive teacher who can make informed decisions based on students' reading and writing behaviors.  A responsive teacher knows how to use the materials to best meet the needs of the students."

Shari understands and reminds readers that the classroom teacher is key to a child's success--especially the child getting intervention on top of classroom instruction.  I love this book because it doesn't only talk about the individual things a teacher or intervention specialist can do to support our struggling readers. Instead Shari supports a comprehensive approach that has a child in a solid literacy classroom. She shares ideas for the workshop that support struggling students in whole class, small group and individual groupings. She understands that every part of a child's day is key to their growth as readers and that is it possible to differentiate for these children within whole class and small group settings. If aligned, the combination of these practices in a solid literacy workshop are key to moving students forward.

The last section of the book focuses on the collaboration between the classroom teacher and the intervention specialists.  Shari is honest about the challenges for both parties in finding time to meet and collaborate about progress and teaching in both settings.  She shares ideas that have worked such as a folder that travels with the student. She also highlights the importance of student knowledge and ownership of goals.

Shari's book brings to the forefront some important things that are sometimes embedded in school cultures--not because teachers don't know better, but because schedules and other things stand in the way. She offers honest thoughts and realistic possibilities for change.  This is an exciting book in which  Shari offers solutions based on her work in schools and with teachers.

This book is short (119 pages) but it is packed with information and powerful thinking.  I can see this book as one that will start important conversations in schools.  Shari understands the challenges to quality intervention and also understands that no one is to blame--she understands and respects the challenges and frustrations of every individual involved in a child's education. And with that, she offers some good ideas for rethinking.

Rethinking Intervention is the perfect title for this book as that's what it will allow teachers to do. And she invites us to rethink it in a way that is both hopeful and energizing.


  1. I agree with Ms. Frost. A trained educator is best fit to teach a struggling student how to read. Although an untrained person may be able to teach various aspects, some components will be neglected or not detailed. A responsive teacher will be able to reflect over past strategies and implement necessary techniques as need be. The intervention specialist teacher will assess the student’s current reading and writing performance level. Once this is complete the teacher should start at the student’s current level and develop the student’s skills until he is performing on or above grade level. The development of the student’s reading and writing skills will take place through the implementation of the intervention program. The teacher will adapt the intervention program as needed. I also agree that the classroom teacher should participate in the program. This allows the intervention techniques to be reiterated in the classroom. Collaboration is a key component when working with a struggling reader and writer. All involved parties should have a clear understanding of the ultimate goals. The classroom teacher, in combination with the intervention program specialist, will ensure the student is able to become a better or proficient reader.

  2. This book by Shari Frost looks very interesting to me. I feel that it becomes very difficult to teach students to read once they reach 3rd grade due to the fact that the curriculum requirements expect students to already be strong readers. As the years progress through 6th grade the curriculum becomes more rigorous and struggling readers get left behind very quickly. Students in grades 3-6 struggle to keep up with grade level standards and begin to display undesired behaviors to focus attention on other things than low reading abilities. In addition to reading, the curriculum begins to focus on writing. If a child struggles with reading, then they struggle with writing as well. This book sounds like Sheri focus on what the teacher can do to individualize student achievement. This is important because most students that are not under the special education umbrella do not receive any individual support. It is critical to individualize instruction for students that are struggling so that they can make gains in the specific area that they are struggling in. In this review, I love that you touched based on the fact that, “Shari's book brings to the forefront some important things that are sometimes embedded in school cultures--not because teachers don't know better, but because schedules and other things stand in the way.” This statement is powerful because many teachers struggle with working with students on an individualized basis because of other factors that play into their everyday routines. This book sounds like a great read and I will add it to my list of “books to read.”

  3. I believe that this book would be an interesting read, and very helpful to those of us who teach struggling readers. I think it is interesting that she points out that everything a student does during the day is important to his or her reading. That is something to ponder over as a teacher. It shows that every part of the day should be meaningful; not that the student should be overworked, but that every period should be well thought out. For example, flash card sight words during bathroom breaks. It is little times like those that we don’t consider important to instruction. I also think that the author made a great point about the teacher being the key to the student’s success. It is our job to give the student every chance to succeed though our instruction, our strategies we provide and the encouragement and support we give. The intervention piece is essential in providing individualized instruction that the student needs to become successful. It would be very interesting to read what the author suggests in providing the most effective intervention. It would be especially interesting to read how to provide this in a whole group setting, which in my opinion, would be the most difficult.


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