Intro: How to Implement Direct Instruction in the Classroom
The DISTAR (Direct Instruction System for Teaching Arithmetic and Reading) program gained prominence during Project Follow Through, the largest federally funded experiment in public education. Project Follow Through ...
The DISTAR (Direct Instruction System for Teaching Arithmetic and Reading) program gained prominence during Project Follow Through, the largest federally funded experiment in public education. Project Follow Through was started in 1967 under President Lyndon Johnson, and concluded in 1995 after consuming $1 billion and conducting research on over 20,000 students nationwide. Its express purpose was to study instructional methods that would lead to a reduction in the disparity between low- and high-performing students by improving the performance of low-performing students.
Three overarching models of Project Follow Through:
Behavior Reinforcement (scripted instruction, tokens & praise)
Direct Instruction (scripted systematic instruction, pacing, correcting, praise)
Language Development (language focus) Cognitive/Conceptual Models
Cognitively Oriented Curriculum (Piaget, High Scope)
Self Directed Literature (Learning Styles) Affective Skills Models
Learning Center (Head Start Model)
Open Education (British Infant School Model)
Direct Instruction was created by developed in the 1960's by Siegfried Englemann and Wesley C. Becker.
Features of DI include:
- Explicit, systematic instruction based on scripted lesson plans.
- Ability grouping. Students are grouped and re-grouped based on their rate of progress through the program.
- Emphasis on pace and efficiency of instruction. DI programs are meant to accelerate student progress; therefore, lessons are designed to bring students to mastery as quickly as possible.
- Frequent assessment. Curriculum-based assessments help place students in ability groups and identify students who require additional intervention.
- Embedded professional development/coaching.
DI programs may be implemented as stand-alone interventions or as part of a schoolwide reform effort. In both instances, the program developers recommend careful monitoring and coaching of the program in order to ensure a high fidelity of implementation.
Below is a video from 1966 showing Zig Engelmann, the founder of Direct Instruction, demonstrating what kindergartners can do in math.