Direct Instruction provides students with an interactive model in which students are provided with explicit instruction of the learning target. Dell’Olio and Donk (2007) state, “We believe that you will have a greater understanding and appreciation of hands-on, discovery models of teaching if you learn the components and structure of a strong direct instruction lesson” (p.72). These components include providing a focus activity, stating the objective and providing the rationale, presenting content and modeling, checking for understanding, guided practice, independent practice, and closure (Dell’Olio and Donk, 2007, p. 78-86). This sequence provides a gradual release model that guides students towards understanding of the learning target. Providing students with a focus activity creates an opportunity to engage students in the lesson. When students are focused the teacher begins the lesson by stating the objective and explaining how it is applicable to students’ lives. Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone (2012) state, “Being in a classroom without a direction for learning is similar to taking a purposeless trip to an unfamiliar city. Teachers can set objectives to ensure student’s journeys with learning are purposeful” (p.2).
I agree with Dell’Olio and Donk (2007) when they state, “You will have a greater understanding and appreciation of hands-on, discovery models of teaching if you learn the components and structure of a strong direct instruction lesson” (p. 72). It is easier to adapt lessons to include discovery models of teaching when essential components are in place. For example, I think cooperative learning is successful when teachers provide clear expectations and objectives. Students need to know the purpose of the lesson so they are prepared to participate and work productively with their group members towards a common goal. I think Direct Instruction also provides teachers with a model that keeps them focused on teaching a specific learning target. Dell’Olio and Donk (2007) state, “Content must be introduced clearly and systematically and explained in the context of students’ everyday lives” (p. 80). This is where tools, such as textbooks, can help teachers stay focused on the content that needs explicit teaching. Dr. William’s notes state, “Textbooks represent organized bodies of knowledge that provide students with a basis for understanding a particular subject in ways that would take years for teachers to assemble. They also provide the “expert knowledge” that the teacher may not have” (Williams, 2013, p.3).
In my own classroom, I think Direct Instruction allows me to provide clear direction for instruction and expectations for meeting the learning target. Direct Instruction guides students through the learning process. It helps them make connections between the learning activities and how they apply to what they are expected to learn. Students are able to see explicit modeling of the learning and have guided practice with support prior to demonstrating the learning target during independent practice. This model allows teachers to check for understanding throughout their lesson and modify instruction as needed. This is a powerful use of formative assessment that teachers can use to guide instruction so all students are successful with the learning target. Students who demonstrate understanding can move on to the independent practice while others can continue to receive support.
Ceri B. , D., Hubbell, E.R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement (2nd ed.). Denver: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.
Dell’Olio, J., & Donk, T. (2007). Models of Teaching: Connection Student Learning With Standards. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.
Williams, T. (2013). Direct Instruction and Cultural Literacy. Lecture Notes. Retrieved from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-825511-dt-content-rid-1309655_1/courses/EDU6526_28255201232/Direct%20Instruction%20lecture%20notes.pdf