How to Implement Short-Term Interventions to Help Students Excel as Readers


Teachers are passionate about helping children who struggle with reading, yet too often we see those children spend months or even years in intervention programs that rarely help them reach proficiency. They’re shuffled from one program to the next and never make the sustained gains necessary to free them from the chains of intervention.

So, is it even possible to provide a short-term intervention that rescues struggling readers from the cycle of frustration and failure?

Yes, it is.

In our book, we focus on RISE (Reading Intervention for Students to Excel), a powerful, short-term intervention for children in grades 1–6. Based on Jan's bestselling The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading (NSFGR)The Next Step Forward in Reading Intervention is a companion volume intended for use with NSFGR, in order to best implement the RISE framework. Here are the three things that make it so powerful:

  • the lesson framework from The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading
  • the children’s time on task
  • teacher collaboration

And throughout the book, we outline interventions that offer intensive, short-term, targeted instruction in reading, writing, word study, and comprehension. After a couple months of intervention, students gain the confidence, proficiency, and skills they need to excel as readers and exit intervention once and for all!

Here’s how it works:

The literacy team and the classroom teachers use assessments to select up to 16 students who need intervention and who read at about the same text level. Those students are placed in smaller groups of three or four and rotate through four instructional stations. Each station is led by an instructor and targets one of four lesson components: reading a new book, word study, rereading and discussing the book, and guided writing. The RISE framework described below is for students who read at text levels C-N and need to improve decoding, fluency, spelling, comprehension, and writing. 

Groups of three or four students rotate through these four instructional stations:

Station 1: New Book Reading

In Station 1, students read a new book with prompting. The focus is monitoring, problem solving unknown words, fluency, and comprehension. It is best if a reading teacher or literacy specialist leads this station because the instruction requires a more in-depth understanding of the reading process.

Station 2: Word Study

At this station, students learn developmentally appropriate sight words and phonics skills. Spend the first five minutes on sight words and the last 10 doing word study activities that target needed skills.

Station 3: Rereading the Book

In Station 3, students read the same text they read at Station 2, and apply a deeper comprehension strategy. By rereading yesterday’s text with an extensive comprehensive conversation, students can improve fluency and automaticity with problem solving.

Station 4: Guided Writing

Students spend 15 minutes writing about yesterday’s new book. Guided writing extends comprehension and improves writing skills because you are coaching students as they write. Most students will have reread the book in Station 3 before they come to the Guided Writing Station. Students whose first station is Guided Writing, however, will not have read the book that day. RISE works best if the strongest readers are scheduled to visit the Guided Writing Station first because they have a better chance of remembering what they read the day before.

Our book offers a number of tips, strategies, and activities so students get the most out of these instructional stations. But most importantly, once the children return to class, instructors should meet for about five minutes to share their observations, teaching points, and concerns. This collaboration helps them monitor progress, celebrate successes, and plan the next day’s RISE lesson. The daily opportunity to reflect on the lesson and make decisions about the next lesson is one of the many strengths of RISE.

To discover how you can implement short-term, targeted interventions in your classroom and help students gain confidence and become proficient readers, you can purchase our book here.

About the authors:

Jan Richardson, Ph.D., is the bestselling author of The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading, an educational consultant, and a leading expert in guided reading with experience as a Reading Recovery® teacher leader, a staff developer, and a teacher of every grade — K-12.

Ellen Lewis, M.Ed., is a literacy consultant with more than three decades of literacy teaching experience as a reading teacher and Reading Recovery® teacher. She is the author of the NSFGR Study Guide as well as several children’s books.

10 Guided Writing Prompts to Boost Reading Comprehension

By Jan Richardson and Ellen Lewis

Fluent readers benefit from guided writing instruction that is connected to the guided reading lesson. As students write about the text they just read, they can improve writing skills and extend their comprehension. Guided writing prompts like the ones below will not only improve your students’ reading comprehension skills that ensure success across all subjects, they’ll also help students gain the confidence and proficiency they need to excel as writers.

As students write, circulate among the group and assist individuals as necessary. After you read what students have written, teach something students can do to improve their writing. One student might need to reread what he or she has written to check for accuracy. Another may need guidance on how to increase sentence variation. A third may be ready to combine sentences using conjunctions or introductory clauses. Regardless of your teaching points, always remember that the goal of each interaction is not to “fix” the writing, but to teach something that will make the student a better writer.

If students need help getting started, dictate the first sentence of the response. Then scaffold them as they construct the rest of their sentences.

Here are 10 guided writing prompts teachers can use to boost their students’ reading comprehension skills:


1. What traits describe the character? Use examples from the story to support your opinion.

2. Summarize the major events. Why are those events important?

3. Contrast two characters and their points of view.

4. Write about the theme. What lesson(s) did the character learn? What lesson(s) can you learn from this story?

5. Select an important action the character did. What motivated the character to do that?


6. Write a summary of the topic using the two texts we read. Include examples from both texts.

7. Describe the author’s point of view and support it with evidence from the text.

8. Write an opinion, supporting your point of view with evidence from the text.

9. Compare and contrast two ideas.

10. What two facts (ideas, concepts) found in the text do you think are most important in the passage? Why do you think so? Use specific details from the text to support your answer.

Guided writing instruction is an effective strategy teachers can use to boost readers’ comprehension development.  It helps children become flexible thinkers and encourages them to respond to text in a variety of ways.