11 Instructional Intervention Strategies and Examples

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As educators, we encounter students with diverse strengths and needs, with each student learning at their own pace (not our own—as much as we’d like it to be). We screen and assess students for skills to provide individualized support. Some classes need whole-group interventions, while all generally require more targeted approaches with small-group and some individualized interventions. One of my proudest moments as an educator was helping a fourth grader who was struggling with reading during online learning. With small-group phonics instruction and one-on-one reading sessions, he excelled, making the honor roll by the time he reached sixth grade. In this article, we will explore 11 evidence-based instructional interventions and instructional intervention examples that you can use today to help your students succeed.

The Basics: What Are Instructional Interventions?

Instructional interventions are strategies and techniques that are designed to provide support and guidance to students who are struggling or have gaps in specific areas of learning. You will want to assess and analyze intervention strategies to determine if they are a right fit for your students. Make sure that the interventions you choose are grounded in evidence-based practices, and tailor them to meet the unique needs of your individual learners.

Matching Intervention Settings to Learners' Needs

Effective educational interventions are not one-size-fits-all. Carefully assess each learner’s strengths, challenges, and preferences by thoroughly analyzing assessment data. By using the variety of classroom data we collect, through summative assessments, observations, and progress monitoring, we can gain comprehensive information about each student’s unique learning needs.

With this information at­­ hand, educators can develop individualized intervention plans that set clear goals. Flexible grouping based on learning needs and progress allows for dynamic classroom arrangements, ensuring students receive instruction at an appropriate level of challenge and support.

Strategies to Improve Reading Skills: List of Interventions for Students

Many strategies are specifically to help students build fluency. The first three reading intervention strategies below fall into that category. The fourth strategy is an intervention that is a “particularly successful approach to reading comprehension.” Try these strategies to help struggling readers:

Strategy 1: Choral Reading

Choral reading refers to students reading aloud in unison. Encouraging students to read chorally can improve their reading fluency and prosody. In particular, choral reading provides a supportive and collaborative atmosphere, enhancing students’ confidence in their reading abilities.

Strategy 2: Repeated Reading

Repeated reading means reading the same text repeatedly. As students do this, they gain confidence and develop automaticity in recognizing words, which ultimately enhances their comprehension and expression skills. Repeated reading exercises in the classroom provide students with valuable opportunities to refine their reading abilities and become more proficient readers.

Try this Repeated Reading Routine:

  1. Select a short text at the appropriate reading level.
  2. Have students read the text aloud.
  3. Set a timer for a short interval (e.g., one minute) and ask students to read the text repeatedly during this time.
  4. Record the number of words read correctly to track progress.
  5. Have students repeat the process in later sessions to measure the growth in fluency and accuracy.
  6. Reflect together with students on progress made and provide feedback to help them grow in their reading.

Strategy 3: Partner Reading

Use this strategy for student engagement and to provide academic language practice through collaborative instructional routines. By assigning partners based on students’ reading levels, you can ensure equal participation, leading to effective discussions. Consider using data that approximately ranks students by reading levels. Then pair the first student from the top half of the list with the first student from the bottom half of the list, continuing down the list until all students have been partnered.

Strategy 4: Reciprocal Teaching

Reciprocal teaching is a collaborative approach that is a great small group activity for four or more students. Students each take on the roles of facilitator, predictor, questioner, clarifier, and summarizer. Predictors use prior knowledge and context clues to make informed predictions, while questioners generate thoughtful questions about the text. Clarifiers identify challenging parts of the text, and summarizers synthesize key points to create concise summaries.

When initially introducing this routine, the teacher acts as the facilitator, gradually releasing responsibility to the students once they are ready. As students cycle through these roles during each enactment of the routine, they gain valuable experience in thinking critically and comprehending texts from various perspectives.

Fluency, Conceptual Understanding, and Problem Solving: List of Interventions for Students in Math

Learning math is a continuous process, where students encounter novel skills that demand automaticity, along with various strategies for grasping mathematical concepts. As a result, math intervention strategies involve not only enhancing fluency but also promoting conceptual understanding to support students in their mathematical journey. The following is a list of interventions for students in math specifically:

Strategy 5: Multiple Representations

Present math concepts using different visual forms and abstract representations.

One example, described here by Math in Focus advisor Andy Clark, is the concrete, pictorial, abstract approach which offers students a multi-dimensional understanding of mathematical ideas, catering to diverse learning styles and promoting deeper comprehension. Students start by interacting with concrete objects through hands-on exploration. This foundational experience helps build a strong understanding of mathematical principles, laying the groundwork for more advanced learning.

Pictorial representations act as a visual bridge to more abstract representation to help students visualize mathematical concepts through diagrams, models, and visual aids. Eventually, this transitions into abstract representations such as mathematical symbols and notation to represent and solve problems.

Strategy 6: Spaced, Interleaved Practice

Engage students in practice sessions that are spaced out over time and that include a mix of different math problems or concepts. This approach, sometimes called a spiral review, improves retention and promotes transfer of knowledge, as students repeatedly encounter and work with various types of problems, reinforcing their problem-solving skills and understanding of mathematical concepts.

This strategy is grounded in research and in some ways counterintuitive, as students are typically asked to practice concepts repeatedly, grouped by content. However, evidence shows that even though asking students to recall concepts learned long ago within a practice session creates more struggle at first, it helps them to retain the concept better in the long term and connect it to other math concepts.

Strategy 7: Math Games and Activities

Incorporating math games and activities into instruction makes learning enjoyable and engaging. Games provide opportunities for hands-on practice, friendly competition, and skill reinforcement. This strategy is incorporated throughout HMH math programs, for example the classroom games that are a part of Math 180. Tic-Tac-Go, is a two-player game in which students use gridded game board filled with products and a list of possible factors. Players take turns moving counters, one factor at a time, until one player completes a path from one side of the grid to the other. Each player marks off their products with either an X or an O.

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Strategy 8: Schema-Based Instruction Strategies

Schema-based instruction refers to providing students with a template for translating related word problems into an identical mathematical representation, such as “total ÷ groups = number of groups.” This is a valuable approach that helps students organize and connect new information with their existing knowledge structures, leading to deeper understanding and improved retention.

Fractions are a concept that students commonly struggle with. Schema-based instruction can be especially helpful here. For example, when teaching equivalent fractions, have students use the schema “multiplying or dividing both the numerator and denominator of a fraction by the same number results in an equivalent fraction” to better comprehend a key concept about equivalent fractions—the identity property—and apply it to various fraction problems.

Effective Strategies for General Intervention

While specialized strategies target specific subjects, there are general intervention approaches that can benefit all learners and apply to any subject. After all, many aspects of learning are less about the subject being learned and more about the person doing the learning. Here are some general instructional intervention strategies and examples:

Strategy 9: Educational Technology

Look for ways to integrating technology tools, like Read 180 and Math 180, into instruction. This can create many opportunities to support students in their learning, such as helping students to access interactive resources, collaborate online, and engage with multimedia content. Not only can educational technology enhance learning opportunities, it can improve students’ digital literacy.

Intervention tools made virtual, such as virtual manipulatives, have become increasingly common in recent years. They have created an avenue for older students to access intervention with less stigma due to the tools being adaptable and discreet.

Strategy 10: ​​Personalized Approaches

Recognizing and leveraging individual strengths helps tailor interventions to students’ unique abilities, fostering a positive and empowering learning environment. Think about your own learning experiences. Have there been times when you had to push through to get work done? This often happens when the skills we are working on are not that interesting to us, or our end goals were just too far away. In general, adults have more discipline to push forward when we know a task is important to our overall goals. But when students are stuck on a task, they are better able to persist when they find the topic interesting or we can stoke their curiosity in some way.

Teachers can create icebreaker and community-building activities with student-interests in mind. This is important data about our students that can help us personalize learning for our students. As our relationships with our students grow, we can weave in topics that we know our students will love.

Here are some simple ways to personalize learning:

  1. Revise math problems to include student names. Cycle through student names, during whole group instruction. Save the names of any shy students who might get embarrassed for small group or individual work.
  2. Flexibly group students into expert groups where they research a topic based on a common passion or interest to co-author an informative essay or presentation. This enables students with large ability gaps to work together and learn from each other.
  3. Create personalized learning plans with students that need an additional boost or stretch, or for students who need additional incentive to participate in the learning. Work with students to create personal goals and confer with them to coach them in checking in on and revising their goals.
  4. Allow students to choose how they will submit work. Providing a choice board can help by limiting the options so it is not too overwhelming for students. I once had a student submit a fictional movie with zero dialogue, but the story structure was clear, and we discovered his strength for visual storytelling.

Strategy 11: Mindset Strategies

A growth mindset, as explained by Carol Dweck, refers to the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through effort and perseverance. Encourage your students to embrace challenges, learn from mistakes, and believe in their capacity to improve over time. The effect can be quite far-reaching. For example, if students who receive a low grade on an exam have a growth mindset, they may see it as an opportunity for further learning. They might ask the teacher for help after school, go back and review their mistakes, and put in extra effort to understand the concepts they struggled with.

Teachers can cultivate a growth mindset in their students by emphasizing the power of “yet.” In other words, get in the habit of appending “yet” to statements that limit ability. “I don’t understand this…yet.” As students face challenges, praise effort and persistence and embrace mistakes as learning opportunities. School should provide students with a safe place to fail. Helping them see failure as an opportunity for growth is what growth mindset is all about.

What Are Intervention Strategies That I Could Try Tomorrow?

Instructional intervention strategies are versatile tools that empower educators to support students at various levels of proficiency. Many of these strategies can be implemented immediately. When planning tomorrow’s math lesson look for ways to add additional representations or allow students to respond with the representation that makes the most sense to them. For more routine-based strategies like Reciprocal Teaching, start by teaching the routine, and follow up by incorporating time to practice this strategy regularly. By implementing these evidence-based approaches, you can create inclusive and effective learning environments with respect to the needs of all learners.

Whether it’s enhancing reading comprehension, improving math fluency, or fostering general learning skills, instructional interventions play a vital role in promoting academic success and building students’ confidence.


Explore Read 180, our personalized, adaptive, and student-owned approach to reading intervention for Grades 3–12.

Looking to unlock mathematical learning in the students who need it most? Try Math 180, our revolutionary approach to math intervention for students in Grades 3–12.

Download our free Reading and Math Intervention eBooks.

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