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Direct Instruction

Elementary school students at Youngsville Academy are taught using Direct Instruction (DI). This method encourages a high level of student engagement and success.

History of DI (or DI Research)

Direct Instruction was formally established in the 1970’s by Siegfried Engelmann, Dr. Wesley Becker, and their colleagues yet elements contributing to Direct Instruction have emerged over the span of centuries. The creators of Direct Instruction implemented in depth studies and a Project Follow Through in order to find an education strategy to best serve children. The National Institute for Direct Instruction website explains the study and results:

Project Follow Through was the most extensive educational experiment ever conducted. Beginning in 1968 under the sponsorship of the federal government, it was charged with determining the best way of teaching at-risk children from kindergarten through grade 3. Over 200,000 children in 178 communities were included in the study, and 22 different models of instruction were compared. The communities that implemented the different approaches spanned the full range of demographic variables (geographic distribution and community size), ethnic composition (white, black, Hispanic, Native American) and poverty level (economically disadvantaged and economically advantaged). Parent groups in participating communities selected one approach that they wanted to have implemented, and each school district agreed to implement the approach the parent group selected. … Evaluation of the project occurred in 1977, nine years after the project began. The results were strong and clear. Students who received Direct Instruction had significantly higher academic achievement than students in any of the other programs. They also had higher self-esteem and self-confidence. No other program had results that approached the positive impact of Direct Instruction.

Thousands of schools in America and around the world have adopted the techniques of Direct Instruction as a result of in depth studies proving the education’s superiority when compared with other methods. Direct Instruction has shown to have a positive effect on students’ self-esteem, attitudes toward school, sense of responsibility, and high school success. Direct Instruction students will have superior interpersonal and academic skills. They will have a strong ability to apply knowledge and understanding and show a strong love of learning and appreciation for the arts.

DI Essentials

The Direct Instruction education emphasizes the importance of well-developed, pre-planned lessons and instruction techniques that foster an engaged student focus, increased time on task, and mastery of concepts. A typical lesson within a Direct Instruction curriculum focusses on the importance of clearly stated goals, concise presentation of new concepts, guided and active class practice, immediate teacher feedback, group and independent exercises, and review. When introducing a new concept there are defined steps a
Direct Instruction teacher uses to guide a class to understanding:
  • The teacher models similar problem solutions that the students will solve.
    Guided by the teacher, the students apply the observed steps to similar problems.
  • The students independently practice using the concepts in varied contexts and with alternative skill sets.
  • Each lesson is scripted for the instructor in order to maintain consistent results. Time on task is increased across grade levels as defined goals are met according to the structured curriculum. Teachers are able to focus on their students’ progress and academic needs because clearly planned, proven lessons are provided for them.
 
In Direct Instruction programs there is a high level of student and teacher interaction. The teacher’s role as mentor and instructor is key and as such a certain level of pacing during lesson time is necessary to maintain classroom management. Student attention benefits from fast paced instruction. In each lesson script there is a steady stream of teacher question, think time, student response time, and individual opportunities.

In order to properly pace a lesson so that goals are met and students remain engaged, teachers use signaling techniques. Audible and visual signals are used according to circumstance to impart to students the kind of response expected. Teachers provide individual answer opportunities sporadically throughout the lesson encouraging group focus while providing independent practice. Lessons also provide students with an appropriate amount of movement within the classroom. For instance, students might begin the lesson in a more intimate setting such as seated around the teacher on a carpeted area and then move to their seats for seatwork. Similarly, they might begin a lesson at their seats for whole group instruction and separate into pairs to complete projects etc.

Regular assessments are an integral part of a Direct Instruction curriculum to ensure that concepts and skills are being mastered. Students’ progress is assessed daily within each lesson, independent work is checked for knowledge of content, and cumulative assessments are given at goal units in order to test for mastery.

DI Philosophy Believes:

All children can be taught.
All children can improve academically and in terms of self-image.
All teachers can succeed if provided with adequate training and materials.
Low performers and disadvantaged learners must be taught at a faster rate than typically occurs if they are to catch up to their higher-performing peers.
All details of instruction must be controlled to minimize the chance of students’ misinterpreting the information being taught and to maximize the reinforcing effect of instruction.