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.
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.
Explicit instruction (EI) 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 has developed a customised EI 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.
EI is used by thousands of teachers in hundreds of schools in the USA and other countries.
Explicit instruction 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.
EI 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, EI 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.
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 EI 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 Instruction literacy curriculum and is supported by an Explicit 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: