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Are you considering using the Direct Instruction model in your teaching practice? Then this is the lesson for you? We include an explanation of the method, then give you a template to use when planning.

What Is Direct Instruction?

Like most instructional methods, the Direct Instruction Model is a blend of getting students ready to learn, teaching, guiding them in practice, then allowing them to practice independently. The method comes from the educational theory that people learn best with direct, explicit, and focused instruction followed by a gradual release of responsibility. Traditional models are more strict than some – without components such as class conversations or activities – but more modern versions can and often do include these aspects.

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You’ve probably had direct instruction at some point in your educational career, maybe even not in the classroom. Think of how you learned to drive; you observed someone doing it for years, planting background knowledge and connecting to the topic. Next, you likely had someone sit down with you and explain things, or maybe read the driver instruction book. You practiced, mostly with someone in the car to guide you, until you were allowed to drive (still with someone watching) with little or no input.

Finally, you were assessed on your performance.How do teachers use the Direct Instruction model today? Let’s take a look.

Planning for Direct Instruction

As we saw above, using the Direct Instruction method is really a five-step process.

  1. Set the Stage for Learning – Often referred to as the anticipatory set, this step in the model gears students up for learning and piques interest. You should plan to connect to prior knowledge and prepare students’ brains for the current lesson.
  2. Teach – With specific intention and direction, this is the section in which you teach, or directly instruct, students. Tell students what they’re learning, model and demonstrate, and check for understanding often.

  3. Guided Practice – After teaching, it’s time for students to give it a try. With you guiding them, students practice the lesson, either in small groups, partners, or the whole group.
  4. Closure – Wrap up with a closing statement that reiterates the objective and briefly introduces and links it to future learning.

    Use this time to also assess students, either formatively or summatively.

  5. Independent Practice – Finally, students will practice without your guidance, applying skills and showing what they know.

Sometimes, teachers offer independent practice as part of their daily routine, giving students a chance to work problems by themselves, then checking in before the end of class to determine understanding. The last two steps can be interchanged depending on needs.

Direct Instruction Lesson Plan Template

Now that we have a clear idea of the components of direct instruction, let’s see how it looks in action. Let’s imagine a teacher is planning to teach nouns to a second-grade class. Her template may look like this:Direct Instruction Lesson Plan Template

Anticipatory Set Students will brainstorm a list of nouns and share; list on class chart, then define the word and connect to ‘Parts of Speech’ poster
Instruction Have students turn and talk to a partner to share a definition of ‘noun’ in their own words. Students will then view a shared reading of the poem A Sunny Day, raising their hands every time they hear a noun. Add to list. Finally, as a group, we will review the list and sort the nouns.
Guided Practice Students will work with a partner to do a room walk, recording nouns found in the room on white boards.

When finished, students will transfer to index cards. (Keep for another lesson.)

Assessment As student groups work, circulate the room to determine understanding. Pull guided groups for further support as necessary. Students then come back together to share lists.

Tell students they will continue to work on nouns tomorrow, learning about specific groups.

Independent Practice Students create a list of 10 nouns for homework.

As you can see, our teacher made plans to get students ready for learning while connecting to past lessons. She then taught students and gave them time to practice with a partner.

She determined understanding and was prepared to pull groups to support if necessary before closing the lesson. Finally, she allowed students to practice independently.


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