Monday, December 3, 2007

Direct Instruction- Does it Work?



The Direct Approach
Direct Instruction (DI) is a relatively radical idea about how to teach elementary school kids (mostly). (There’s a short and glib Youtube video on DI here.) As you can see from that Youtube clip, Direct Instruction is also pretty straightforward. You work in groups of 5-10 kids (if possible) and constantly ask the kids questions as part of tightly scripted lessons. DI is not fancy or particularly clever, which is precisely why it’s such a radical idea. It’s just simple, rapid-fire question-and-answer. This goes against other educational ideals that pause more and use less interactive approaches. DI is more like high-energy coaching than teaching, with a close eye on anyone that’s falling behind. It’s so tightly scripted you might even think it sounds a little bit robotic. Nevertheless, that’s the basic idea. It was developed by an educational outsider named Siegfried Engelmann (who goes by Zig, a convention I will follow) to teach his 3rd grade fraternal twin sons.

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