From Small-Group to One-to-One: An Instructional Culture of Won not Done!

Just when some of our students claim that they are "done" with trying to learn a Topic in the System 44 program,  it may be time for us to allot instructional time for one-to-one instruction with our striving readers. One-to-one instruction is often the key that opens the door for some of our older students to build the foundational skills they need to become independent readers.

Why Individualized Instruction?

Students who may struggle with specific skills in System 44  may have learning difficulties that can range between intellectual disabilities to possessing multiple disabilities that may include autism, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, hearing impairments, and other health conditions. Other students who struggle may be ELLs who are not only new to the English language but may also have significant gaps from their previous years of education. One-to-one instruction with these students can help them master and achieve greater success in learning a skill needed to build on the next one presented in the System 44 software

Although the System 44 software is adaptive, provides direct instruction, and individualized practice and student engagement, some of our students can get stuck in learning a skill and fail to learn a particular lesson in a topic 3 times. When this happens, teachers dutifully attempt to address the deficit during small-group instruction. But during small-group instruction, the student who is really struggling may become "selectively mute" and tune out of instruction because of fatigue or being overwhelmed and embarrassed.  A solution to this problem is to carefully design and execute individualized lessons that can help these students move forward and take the necessary risks needed to master the skills needed to move on to the next lesson.

Where do we fit in Individualized Instruction?

Individualized instruction with our learners can happen during different times in our instructional period. My READ 180 classes meet for 42 minutes -a- day and time is always being prioritized considering the fact that the Lexile scores of my students range between BR-915, and their decoding scores span between pre-decoder to advancing. In order to provide individualized instruction, I often work side-by-side with specific students while they are on the software, and also schedule conference times with them when my other students are engaged in the independent reading or student application rotations.

7 Teacher Hacks for Successful One-to-One Instruction

1)      Individualized instruction starts with addressing the needs of the child. Use data to differentiate using the  System 44 reports: Student Mastery Report and the Student Software Performance Report. Then provide the student with additional instruction and practice with skills using the RDI (System 44 Resources for Differentiated Instruction). The RDI will direct you to appropriate resources, such as the Decodable Digest and the 44Book.

2)      Create a stress-free environment that frees students from the fear of failure

3)      Instruct in a part of the room where there are few distractions. This will allow your students to focus on the material and not the environment around them.

4)      Present content in small/manageable pieces that will allow your students to experience a level of success during each lesson

5)      Respect and observe your student's communication style, especially body language as  a student may not be able to directly state verbally or in writing, their questions and comprehension of the content.

6)      Keep the sessions short, and keep a running record of skills presented and learned.

7)      Be vigilant and persistent. Do not give up after the first few sessions. Keep at it until your student demonstrates progress.

Awesome Resources for Individualized Instruction

  •    RDI book which  includes tips on the Teaching Resources, best practices for conferencing, and the Sound and Articulation recommendations.
  •    Decodable Digest which provides reading practice with passages that connect to each of the Software Topics
  •    44Book Practice Book which provides useful practice in applying the learning of the sound and spelling correspondences which directly connect to the Software Topics.
  •    Flip Chart which helps to model skills and provide sound-spelling practice
  •    Word Building Board & Letter Tiles Kit which uses magnetic letters and word parts to provide hands-on practice in building and manipulating words

I can't think of a better time to plan for individualized instruction than the beginning weeks of the school year. Using the System 44 reports, teacher observations, and student feedback, teachers can prevent "shut down" moments from students by preparing lessons geared to their success at the start. The adage "An Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is a motto to follow as you plan. It's a personal joy to watch the "I'm done" attitude become the "I've won!" 

Share how you individualize instruction in the comments below.


System 44 Educator
  • Thanks so much for this post. This is exactly what I want to do for my students this year. Do you have some forms you use to record skills presented and learned, and would you be willing to share it? (I've appreciated the great resources you've shared!)