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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Mesquite Elementary School

Grades 3-5 | Tucson, AZ

Reteach and Enrich: How to Make Time for Every Student

See step-by-step how this Arizona elementary school gives its students the additional time they need to master core concepts and elevate their learning to the next level. Learn more about Reteach and Enrich.
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Reteach and Enrich: How to Make Time for Every Student (Transcript)

Calvin Baker: Most of us grew up, classic American education, you know. You can go through a unit where these was math, social studies or English, and at the end of the unit, you had a test. Then you moved onto the next unit, because you had to get through all the chapters by the end of the school year. And some kids would do well, some wouldn't. Some kids got good grades and some didn't.

Katie Dabney: In the past, we would just move on to the next chapter in the book, and sorry if you didn't get that. Maybe at the end of the year review, we'll try and touch on that. We wanted to get away from that practice. We made sure that we had a time in the day where if students did not master the skill that was previously taught, we gave them time to master that.

Lindsey Flora: So these formatives are a way of assessing everything that you have learned about prime and composite numbers.

Crystal Deryke: So we're gonna go ahead and get up our math offices. Put your first, last name on this test.

Nancy Varela: Is this a test that you have to take really fast?

Everybody: No.

Katie Dabney: What we do is we teach an objective, and that objective is calendared out for us. And at the end of teaching that objective, we would give a formative assessment, which is usually on Friday. Objectives usually last about a week. And based on the results of that formative assessment, we know if students have mastered that concept or if they have not mastered that. Then what teachers do is, they get together as a grade level and they look at their formatives, and they look at what students mastered that formative and which didn't, and they divide students into the reteach group and into the enrich group.

Nancy Varela: And so how many reteaches are you looking at?

Lindsey Flora: I'm looking at five I reteach, yep.

Nancy Varela: Crystal, do you have your number yet?

Crystal Deryke: Yes, nine.

Nancy Varela: Matt, what were your numbers?

Matt Hough: Eight.

Katie Dabney: One of the things that we found through our experience with reteach and enrich is that the teacher who had a very good turnout on that formative assessment, they did something right in that classroom. They did something right with their instruction on that objective.

Lindsey Flora: Is it safe to say a composite number is a number that has more than two factors?

Everybody: Yes.

Lindsey Flora: Very good. All right, that's what we're gonna write down.

Katie Dabney: So we felt that that teacher would be the most appropriate person to teach the reteach group.

Nancy Varela: I think they just need a little more time on this is what it looks like.

Lindsey Flora: Exactly. Well, I'm open to doing reteach for prime and composite.

Nancy Varela: What about what you've got planned, Matt? You had some enrichments planned, didn't you?

Matt Hough: Yeah, I did. I put three enrich programs together and three activities. I took what you had and I took what you had, and I took a sample on Marilyn Burns, and I just kinda read all three of them and I redid them on my board, on one of the poster boards. And I wrote it in like a child friendly version of it.

Cheryl Deryke: Of the divisibility rules?

Matt Hough: Yeah. And I gave an example underneath each one.

Nancy Varela: All right. So are we all set? Everybody feel comfy?

Lindsey Flora: Sounds good to me.

Cheryl Deryke: Yeah, I think so.

Katie Dabney: That following week, every day, Monday through Friday, from twelve thirty to one o'clock, we have reteach and enrich going on school wide. So the teachers that are teaching reteach, they have that reteach group and they stay with that group of students for that entire week. The enrichment students, they're split up and they would rotate between all of the other teachers in that grade level.

Lindsey Flora: Today in reteach, we're going to be going over prime and composite numbers.

Erica: I think reteach is kind of nice because if you don’t understand something, you won't go on until you understand it, so you won't be confused with anything else, and the teachers do help you. I realize that it's not really bad. It's just that you just need a little bit more help with it.

Matt Hough: You guys did really well on your formative last week and so today's your chance to do an enrichment portion. I really wanna challenge you. I'm giving you that option. Do you wanna do prime and composite, zero to a hundred, or do you wanna try prime and composite, zero to two hundred, using those digits? With a thumbs up, how many of you guys wanna do a hundred to two hundred? All right. I'm gonna go for the two hundred too and I'll help you out and I'll help you out as well.

Katie Dabney: We knew that it worked because the very year that we took our AIMs or our standardized test, our school became an excelling school. Our achievement is the highest in the state of Arizona, so that's something that we're very proud of.

Calvin Baker: When we hold students accountable for very specific standards, and we expect all of them to know that standard, then we hold ourselves accountable for getting that job done. And that is a very significant shift from simply saying, 'You know what, I made it all the way through the textbook.'

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Video Credits


  • Zachary Fink


  • Mariko Nobori


  • Daniel Jarvis

Associate Producer

  • Doug Keely


  • Cameron Trejo
  • Zachary Fink

Production Assistant and Audio

  • Jason Canfield

Video Programming Producer

  • Amy Erin Borovoy

Executive Producer

  • David Markus

Comments (31)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Kevin Verhoff's picture
Kevin Verhoff
7th grade Science teacher in San Juan, TX

My school has an intervention period, but it's not nearly as targeted as this school's. How does the
student's schedule for intervention get created. In the video, it looked like they were just scheduling math intervention. What about reading, writing, or even science and social studies intervention? What if a student fails to master multiple objectives in two or more contents. I'd love to talk with someone with more experience with this!


Karen Johnson's picture

Great idea. Probably only realistic in elementary. It's painful having kids who need enrichment always in with the kids on level, and especially the ones who need the re-teaching. It would be terrific to have them separated some time in order to challenge them appropriately. I find myself spending far too much of my precious little classroom time re-teaching to the few.

Kevin Crosby's picture
Kevin Crosby
Educator and School Counselor / Trinidad School District #1

Years ago I worked in a middle school that had a Master & Enrichment period mid-morning daily. It looked a bit different from the Vail version, but the period provided time for small group interventions, tutoring, corrections, retesting, etc. for some students, and great enrichment activities for others. It was messy, but it worked. A plus was some of our stronger students learned that they needed to study for tests because they didn't want to have to retest and miss their favorite enrichment activities, like Odyssey of the Mind, Knowledge Bowl, Science Exploration, and the like. Students who needed extra help got it without staying after school.

Mariko Nobori's picture
Mariko Nobori
Former Managing Editor and Producer, Edutopia

Dear Karen - Thank you for your comments. The Vail School District has actually successfully implemented the Reteach and Enrich program throughout their district, from elementary through high school. I have reached out to the district to share some of their thoughts on how they have adapted it for the various grade levels, so please stay tuned for more from them!

Mariko Nobori's picture
Mariko Nobori
Former Managing Editor and Producer, Edutopia

Dear Kevin - Thank you for your comments and questions. Mesquite has actually extended this same approach to language arts through a program for vocabulary (called V.E.R.B.), which they started in 2006. You can also see their bell schedule (, which shows how they fit the two programs into the daily schedule. I have reached out to Mesquite to see if they might be able to share more thoughts on how to extend this program to other subjects, so please check back here for more...

Calvin Baker's picture
Calvin Baker
Superintendent at Vail School District

No question, reteach is more difficult at the high school level, requiring a tough paradigm shift for both teachers and students. That said, we've been doing it for several years and getting better at it each year. And, IT DOES BRING RESULTS. Interestingly high school reteach came up in our principal meeting today. One encouraging observation was that we've been doing reteach long enough that our high school students today have been doing it all through their elementary and middle school years . . . and thus just accept it as normal learning behavior.

LSH's picture

How does one move forward in this program? Where does the 30 minutes come from? If 30 minutes a day are being taken from some other teaching time, doesn't that hinder progress? After a week of reteaching, what if the student still does not understand the concept? I'm not trying to belittle this program; it sounds intriguing. These are honest questions I have.

Mariko Nobori's picture
Mariko Nobori
Former Managing Editor and Producer, Edutopia

Hello again Kevin - Here is more info from the principal at Mesquite Elementary: "Kevin, those are excellent questions. We began Reteach and Enrich in math because that was our area of need as a school. After seeing the positive results of the program, we have extended the Reteach and Enrich model to Reading and Vocabulary instruction. We call it VERB and it happens everyday (Monday-Thursday) from 10:30-11:00 along with Math R&E from 12:30-1:00. These blocks of time are set aside in our master schedule and considered "sacred." Students needing reteach in math or reading receive that instruction during Math R &E or VERB. However, differentiated instruction in all content areas is necessary and having a specified reteach block for every content area is not feasible due to time constraints. All objectives in all content areas follow a curriculum calendar. To help support all content areas, we have a gifted certified teacher on staff who attends our grade level Data Team meetings which occur twice a month. Her role is to provide enrichment strategies to teachers so that teachers can use those techniques in all content areas. We have focused on strategies like higher order questioning, using graphic organizers that require critical thinking (the higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy), model products, etc. For our students needing extra support in content areas, we also have a Student Achievement Teacher on staff. Our SAT leads all Data Team meetings and serves as a resource to classroom teachers. She shares reteach strategies and resources to support classroom teachers with our reteach students. By providing our teachers with the resources they need (including professional development) they have become very effective differentiating their instruction in all content areas."

Geoff Parks's picture
Geoff Parks
Assistant Principal @ Cienega High School / Vail School District

In our Algebra and Geometry classes, we have district formative assessments after every essential performance objective taught. If 70% of the class does not meet the standard, then the teacher re-teaches or spirals in the content throughout the next week and re-tests. After the re-test or after the first test if the class has over 70%, then any student that "approaches" or "falls far below" the standard gets assigned to re-teach. Students may also self select to attend re-teach as well. Once the students have been identified, teachers send the list of names to the front office staff and they create passes for students to attend re-teach during their advisor base period (this is somewhat of a homeroom period that has other lessons to improve student achievement and college preparedness). Students that receive a re-teach pass go to the library instead of their Advisor Base class for 55 minutes. In the library, all of the Algebra and Geometry teachers are there to re-teach the specific performance objective in which that group of students struggled. Teachers select which students in their classes they would like to teach and select which students might need a different teacher's perspective or style. That way a teacher has the luxury of determining this student just needs help with a specific technique or they may realize that another student does not understand their method of teaching this concept and they need a different view based on what they have seen in class. We break up the re-teach by offering it twice a week for that specific standard and students in periods 1, 3, & 5 attend one day and periods 2, 4, & 6 attend the other day. That way we get the student to teacher ratio down to approximately 10 to 1. After the student has gone to re-teach, they now have the opportunity to take the test on that particular performance objective again. If they do not attend re-teach they are not allowed to retake and improve their grade (an incentive to get retaught). Two years ago we ran the data on this program to see if the students actually improve and we had found that when students attended re-teach approximately 70% of them improved their score on their re-test by one performance level (falls far below to approaches or approaches to meets).

For the upper level math classes we do not have district formative assessments for each performance objective. So we do re-teach a little differently. When students hit their junior year, we really try to assist them in getting college and career ready by putting more responsibility on them for their own learning. So for the upper level math re-teach, students are not required to attend but need to sign up for re-teach through their teacher. The teacher typically encourages students who need it to attend, but does not hold them accountable if they do not. What we have found is an overwhelming response of students self selecting to attend re-teach to get the additional help. These students do not get an opportunity to improve their grade or their test score. They choose to come purely for understanding. We are trying to treat it as more of a college atmosphere where students can choose to go see the teacher to get help. This has been a great success the past two years and students have taken the ownership in their own learning.

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