For this week’s blog post I’m excited to dive deeper into one approach to a learning environment; direct instruction. For starters, even if you’re not already familiar with the term direct instruction, I’m almost positive that is the primary way in which you have been taught material in a school setting – think about an instructor standing at the front of a classroom and presenting information to their students, that’s direct instruction! One might consider direct instruction as more of an “old school” take

nowadays, as I personally can say that listening to someone talk all day does not benefit my learning, but nevertheless their are some concepts and lessons that can’t be learned through experimentation for example, so with a carefully scaffold plan, direct instruction methods can be extremely effective for learners. In fact, according to this website, direct instruction is based on the principles that: all students can learn when taught correctly, and that all teachers can be successful with the right resources and techniques. These techniques might comprise of a lesson divided into the preceding sections:

  1. Introduction: Here, a teacher must “set the stage for learning” by getting their students’ attention, and activating their prior knowledge relevant to the coming lesson.
  2. Presenting new material: Here, a teacher must use thorough instructions to teach the lesson content in an organized step-by-step format. This might take the form of a lecture, or a demonstration.
  3. Guided practice: Here, a teacher must create a space for their students to practice the skill or concept taught with assistance, in order to correct any mistakes.
  4. Feedback and correctives: Here, if the students are not understanding the lesson material, the teach must intervene and provide them with feedback.
  5. Independent practice: Here, the students can apply the skill or concept that they have learned in the lesson on their own.
  6. Evaluation: Here, a teacher must check to see if their students have mastered the skill or content relevant to their lesson, perhaps by collecting student data, and may move on to a new topic if the results are positive.

I wanted to discuss more about what direct instruction in the classroom looks like as well as some potential controversies – I tried to find a video showing this teaching method in action but was upset to see that many of them were schools pushing direct instruction as their only delivery method and using behaviour charts to manage their students and make the overall learning faster. I feel that this is problematic as many true and authentic learning experiences happen beyond teacher instruction, and instead through personal exploration and discovery which I’m sure we’ll read about in our peers’ posts this week. Specifically, I recognize that when we try to “force” a learning outcome on our students, although it might be efficient for us, it is not necessarily best for our students as their motivation to learn might be hindered. That being said, I was able to find this short clip dispelling the myth that project-based learning and direct instruction can’t be mixed. It helped me to understand that there’s not necessarily a battle over one or the other, but that both methods can be strategically paired together for optimal learning conditions.

My pod is creating a grade three mathematics unit plan on perimeter for our Blueprint assignment. Reflecting on our project so far, we are employing direct instruction in the sense of gradually shifting student responsibility by starting with a review, presenting new material, and then offering opportunities for guided and independent practice, as well as feedback. However, we have refrained from using a “lecture” approach and are relying heavily on group work and class discussions to allow for students to progress their thinking collaboratively. Thanks for reading!