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Micro-Interventions: Are We Taking Action Quickly?

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Oct. 8, 2018, 8:56 a.m.

Using the success criteria, teachers can closely monitor learning and provide timely feedback about each students' progress or lack there of. The goal is to watch for students to demonstrate the success criteria. If they aren't able to demonstrate the daily learning target, then we must think about what is keeping them from doing so and take action quickly. Is there a gap or misconception that needs to be addressed in order to move students forward?


For example, recently a group of fourth graders were practicing finding the main idea and key details of each paragraph in order to summarize an informational text. They were not given any success criteria to guide their thinking. As they read and discussed each paragraph, they kept identifying the topic, rather than taking it further to the main idea. This misconception (that a topic is the main idea) needed to be addressed quickly. I stopped the group before they went on to the next paragraph and provided a quick teach on topic vs. main idea. This micro-intervention took less than two minutes and helped the students close the gap.


Another micro-intervention might be providing sentence stems for students to use as they begin to use a new strategy or do new thinking. This is a temporary support system that helps the reader know what an exemplary reader might say and think when using the skill or strategy.


You may even consider pairing students up so that a slightly more proficient student can coach a student who is still making sense of the strategy and success criteria.


Micro-interventions are all of the little things we, as teachers, do quickly to provide the learning or support the student needs to achieve the daily learning targets. Taking action quickly can prevent bigger gaps from developing over time. If we can close the daily learning gap, we ensure that students learn the grade level targets they need for success in later grades.






Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

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Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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