How to Implement Direct Instruction in Your Classroom




Posted in LivingEducation

Introduction: How to Implement Direct Instruction in Your Classroom

Direct and Explicit Instruction is instruction which places an emphsis on breaking learning down into easy to manipulate steps and processes. Direct Instruction was greatly backed, researched and developed by the man Siegfried Engelmann, also commonly known as "Zig". Zig believed in the idea that children are not to blame for academic failure, instead, poor instruction should be to blame. In the mid sixties, Zig was working with a group of Pre-K students when he discovered that breaking down information systematically, and teaching it explicitly, allowed students to comprehend it better.

Project Follow Thorugh was developed by Zig in the 1960's and was aimed at schools and students who were labeled to be "failing". A failing school was one where the majority of its students were not meeting academic standards. THese were often poor schools in poor districts. These schools were also referred to as Title 1 schools. Project Follow Through was a program the brought Direct Instruction to the school as a whole, where it was implemented in every classroom. Zig and his team would tain all of the teachers on all necessary components of Cirect Instruction. If implemented properly, these schools made tremendous progress.

The following video gives a little background on Direct Instruction

In his 2007 book, Teaching Needy Kids in Our Backward System: 42 Years of Trying, Engelmann describes what it is like to watch a teacher who is "excellent" when teaching Direct Instruction,

"They make it look easy, but you know that it isn't. In fact, the more you know about how to doi t, the more you appreciate the skill of the expert. The star teacher in the early grades controld details of her instruction in a show she puts on every school day - not simply during the small-group instruction but from the moment the children enter the classroom. Everything is engineered to be productive" (p. 149-150).

This instructable will outline key components of Direct Instruction, and, what you need to do to be an "excellent teacher".

Step 1: Step # 1 - Break Down Information Into Clear Learning Steps

When teaching a new concept or strategy, it always important to brake it into small easy to learn steps. A new learned concept should be around 5 steps long. It is also important to make sure that students have the necessary background knowledge needed to learn the new material. For example, when learning how to write a fraction from looking at a picture, third graders may be taught these following steps:

1. Count the total number of pieces in the pcture.
2. Write that number down.
3. Draw a line above that number.
4. Count the number of pieces that have been shaded in.
5. Write that number above the line.

When teaching this concept or strategy to your students, it is important to explicitly model, teach and preactice each individual step in the process.

Engelmann (2007),

The attached video dsiplays how long division can be broken down into simple steps.

Step 2: Provide Students With Both Examples and Non-Examples

Teachers almost never fail to provide their students with examples of what it is that they are instructing. However, what teachers do commonly tend to forget is, to provide their students with NON-examples as well as examples. Non- examples help students to get a more sound and concrete grasp on a concept. The same goes in reverse, students can not learn just from non-examples alone, a good mix is needed.

Engelmann (2007) explains, "Consider trying to teach what a shoe is using only negative examples. You could present scoks and say, 'This is not a shoe', and you can present present slippers and say, 'This is not a shoe.... It would be sometime before the avarage learner figured out what a shoe is" (p. 114).

The attached pictures show both examples and non-examples of a shoe. The first three pictures show, "This is a shoe" and the fourth and fifth pictures show, "This is not a shoe."

Step 3: Allow for Frequent Whole Class Opportunities to Respond

Calling on a student to answer a question provides you with a quick check on if that student is comprehending the material that is being taught. However, if you ask the entire class to respond, you can do a quick check on every student in the class, not just one. Providing many opportunities for this throughout your lesson will provide you with more chances to check for understanding and to check for possible errors that are being made.This can help improve the pacing of your lesson as well as the students overall learning.

Engelmann (2007) also reccomends using a signal, so that students know when it is expected of them all to respond. Engelmann (2007) outlines the following "rule" of Direct Instruction, "The teacher's signals for the children to respond as a group must be perfectly clear and consistant" (p. 92).

The following embeded video shows an example of a group response in Direct Instruction. Notice how the teacher will wave her hand or say "get ready" to initiate a response. Also take note of how many opportunities the students have to respond.

The attached picture shows a simple example of a response signal, the teacher will snap.

Step 4: Provide Positive and Corrective Feedback

When teaching you should constantly provide positive feedback to student responses and efforts. Allow students to know what exactly they are doing right and allow them to know that are doing a good job. If a student responds incorreclty, you should make sure to provide corrective feedback, or feedback in which you provide the student with the correct answer.

The following video provides good examples of a teacher using positive feedback during a literacy lesson.

Engelmann (2207) explains the importance of corrective feedback, "The teacher must now play an interactive game with the children. Through this game the teacher gives children both the specific infromation and the amount of practice they need to achieve mastery. This game [ corrective feedback] must be played immediately" (p. 93).

Step 5: Track Student Errors or Mistakes

When a student makes a mistake during a lesson, it is important to correct their mistake but also, it is important to take note of the error. A students error can tell you a lot. A student error can tell you where you they are misunderstood and, where you may need to go back in your lesson and reteach.

When tracking student error, you should look at the following things:

How often is the student making the mistake?
What type of mistake are they making?

These areas will help to give alot of insight on how to change and alter future instruction. Engelmann (2007) explains that, "The teacher must use effective correction procedures" (p. 93). Tracking student error can help the teacher in doing this.

The attached picture shows an example of a student error. Can you mark their mistake?

Step 6: Follow This Type of Format When Teaching Lessons

When teaching a lesson, you should follow these important steps.

1. Opening
2. Modeling ( I do)
3. Guided Practice ( We do )
4.Independent Practice ( You do)

The opening part of the lesson reviews rules and procedures as well as previously learned material. In the modeling section of the lesson, the teacher presents new materials and demonstrates it to the students. In guided practice, the class walks through examples with the teacher. In independent practice, students try to do the new material on their own.

Engelmann (2007) states, "The teacher must pace the presentation appropriately, going as fast as practical but providing 'think time' " (p. 92). The previous stated format will help to ensure this.

The following video shows an example of how to do this.



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    Please add your own pictures or credit other peoples' pictures properly if their license allow you to use them here.

    Ah finally someone who had to do this assignment who used tags. :) Well done, best wishes in your class.