Effective instruction

Explicit instruction has been proven internationally to be the most effective teaching method for attaining the most learning to the broadest group of students.

Good to Great Schools Australia supports schools to deliver effective instruction. Teachers receive significant pedagogy and curriculum professional development to hone their classroom skills. Schools receive considerable support to ensure the implementation is high quality and student outcomes are maximised.

High quality instruction is the keystone to education reform and should be the organising principle of any school.

The body of education research shows that explicit instruction techniques far outweigh other pedagogical approaches in achieving student outcomes.

Explicit instruction (EI) is a structured, systematic and effective methodology for teaching academic skills. It is called explicit because it is an unambiguous and direct approach to teaching that includes both instructional design and delivery procedures.

Explicit instruction (EI) pedagogies are effective in many school contexts with students from a diverse range of global cultural and social backgrounds. EI will accelerate high achievers, meet the needs average ability learners, and support students with learning needs.

Effective instruction – Direct instruction

Direct Instruction (DI) is an education program that combines explicit instruction pedagogy with a comprehensive curriculum, student assessment and scripted lessons. Students are taught carefully sequenced and highly structured lessons and are required to ‘master’ each lesson before advancing on to the next. This ensures that advanced students can be accelerated and that no child is left behind.

Its curriculum and teaching methods have been continually improved and refined through rigorous field-testing of carefully sequenced and highly structured lessons that are designed around “big ideas”.

The program covers literacy and numeracy from kindergarten to Year 5 and aligns to the Australian Curriculum. DI is used in thousands of schools across the USA, commonwealth countries including Australia, and Asia and Africa.

DI is effective for any school setting and any group of students no matter their needs. However, its power is most widely recognised by schools with a large number of students below grade level or with learning difficulties, or who have special needs or English as a second language. Students are taught at their instructional level rather than by age, and those with low literacy receive intensive support in small group instruction. Student progress is monitored weekly and students are continually placed in new groups as they master the content, thus ensuring they are always progressing.

DI is beneficial where schools have high numbers of graduate teachers or teachers less experienced with low-literacy or disadvantaged students. DI coaching is designed to constantly build on a teacher’s practice repertoire so they are continually learning and perfecting a range of techniques and strategies so they can focus on delivery and how their students are responding.

Spotlight on Warruwi School, South Goulburn Island

In 2014 Warruwi School introduced Direct Instruction programs. They had no implementation support and only the use of videos and instructional books. This was very challenging and results were not meeting expectations.

In 2015 the school joined the Good to Great Schools Australia’s Literacy in Remote Schools program funded by the Australian Government.

The school appointed a new School Instruction Coach who worked with the teachers and principal to ensure that behaviour management components of DI were fully embedded. This was a turning point for the school.

In 2015 an experienced Implementation Manager from NIFDI and a Teacher Coach with five years of experience as a DI teacher working with Indigenous Australian students in Cairns, were assigned by GGSA. Throughout the year they conducted school visits to monitor the implementation of the program and provide ongoing support to the school team.

In 2016 the Teacher Coach was assigned to the school in the role of Implementation Manager by Good to Great Schools Australia to continue working with the school team on their journey of school improvement.

Effective instruction – Explicit direct instruction

Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI) is a teaching practice based on educational theory, brain research, data analysis and DI. The education pedagogy combines a set of instructional practices with well-crafted lesson design. It includes continuous “checking of understanding” until students master the skills being taught. It is based on the premise that all children can learn.

Good to Great Schools Australia partnered with the authors of the EDI model, John Hollingsworth and Dr Silvia Ybarra, to develop a customised literacy curriculum for Australian students. This curriculum provides teachers with effective lessons through step-by-step strategies that maximise student learning across all areas of the Australian Curriculum.

EDI is used by thousands of teachers in hundreds of schools in the USA and other countries.

EDI is effective from high to low performing students as well as English Learners and students with special needs. Students are taught in their age-based grade levels so they are constantly being challenged with material at their grade level. The lessons are designed with a strong focus on continuously developing student literacy.

EDI is beneficial for teachers with any level of teaching experience, from graduates to experienced teachers. Teachers appreciate the specific teaching practices, including student engagement, modifying instruction through checking for understanding, and implementing classroom management techniques.

With the literacy program, EDI has a full suite of lessons so the teacher can focus more of their time on instruction delivery. There is less student data monitoring than DI, but there are sufficient levels of coaching observation and feedback to the teacher.

Spotlight on St Mary Star of the Sea Catholic School, Canarvon

The school began its instruction improvement journey in 2014, when Principal Steve O’Halloran and the teaching team were frustrated with their stagnant student outcomes. Steve researched alternative learning programs including the work of internationally respected educationalist, Professor John Hattie. Based on this Steve decided to adopt EDI in his school.

The school signed up to the Good to Great Schools Australia’s Literacy in Remote Schools program funded by the Australian Government.

All the school’s primary school teachers attended the pre-training in Perth.

The school was provided with the Good to Great School Australia Explicit Direct Instruction literacy curriculum and is supported by an Explicit Direct Instruction Teacher Coach who visits the school throughout the year to provide implementation support and one-on-one coaching with teachers.

After only 12 months support, the school is demonstrating success:

  • All students in younger grades have shown accelerated growth in all subjects
  • Comparison of results for 2014 with 2015 show acceleration for all 2015 English classes and most maths classes, demonstrating that outcomes are improving as EDI becomes more embedded in the school
  • For those students who were tested for spelling, in 2014 the two classes tested only achieved 0.08 and 0.37, but in 2015, the students achieved 0.74, 0.68 and 0.91.

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