Level Up with Literacy: March 2022 Issue

Level Up with Literacy

March 2022 Newsletter: Explicit Instruction & Direct Instruction

middle school student in blue sweater and white shirt writes in notebook In this issue:

Ginna FallBy: Ginna Fall, SST 1 Consultant

Think back to a time when you were learning something new. You were interested and engaged. You can remember thinking that you wanted to understand and you almost had it but, for whatever reason, the lesson moved on.  You did not get it. The teacher might have done a great job in the description and good job on the modeling. You thought you were ready but when you went to do the work yourself, you floundered.

This would not surprise those researchers who study how people learn.

In order to fully support the information processing system of our learning brains, science indicates all the steps of Direct Instruction are needed. Anita Archer would encourage all teachers to be explicit. She urges teachers to model and then construct with the students. “WE do it.” An explicit teacher will continue with “we do it” multiple times before gradually releasing students to work independently.

Gradual Release of Responsibility Model
I Do We Do Ya’ll Do It You Do It
Teacher Modeling Guided Practice Clarify
Think-aloud Prompting Support
Explicit instruction Questioning
Goal(s) Facilitating Formative assess
Purpose Interactive Activities Give feedback
Observe and evaluate
Active listening Questioning Application with small groups Independent practice
Note-taking Participating Partners Uses resources
Collaborating Responsible for the outcome

This method helps to ensure that students get the lesson and are able to accomplish the work on their own. Keep reading for a deeper dive into the benefits of Direct Instruction.


You may reach Ginna with questions via email or by calling 419.720.8999, ext. 133.

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“Explicit instruction is direct and unambiguous with the goal of students understanding and learning. It is systematic, relentless, engaging, and successful.”
– Dr. Anita Archer
If you have been in the world of education long enough you have probably heard the terms direct instruction and explicit instruction, and maybe even used them incorrectly or interchangeably. The terms can become jargon and the original definition and intention of the practices are lost over time.

Notice how the steps of explicit instruction offer more detail and help to leverage the art of teaching. These additional steps of explicit instruction allow teachers to be guided by the WHY of learning, not curricular tools. They also allow for the use of instructional considerations which can be applicable to individual learner needs, improving student motivation and engagement.

As you review these instructional practices, you can begin to see how it is impossible to be an explicit instructor without an understanding of direct instruction. You can do all of the steps of direct instruction, but it’s important to ensure your students learn, understand, and can apply their new knowledge…that’s where explicit instruction comes into practice. Explicit instruction keeps the students’ needs in mind, and helps the teacher make the content “stick” for them.

Direct instruction is a series of steps that follows how our brains learn new information. It is a teacher-directed method of teaching that utilizes straightforward, well-developed and carefully planned lessons for specific learning goals. Direct instruction should be used as a starting point for introducing new concepts to students. Explicit instruction is how teachers effectively teach to engage, activate, and motivate the brain to ensure learning. It works for new, fragile learning in every subject and across every grade and supports learning of the foundational skills and concepts students need to stay with them for life.
Six Steps of Direct Instruction 16 Steps of Explicit Instruction
1. Learning intentions

2. Success criteria

1. Focus instruction on critical content
2. Sequence skills logically
3. Break down complex skills and strategies into smaller instructional units
4. Design organized and focused lessons
5. Begin lessons with a clear statement of the lesson goals and your expectations
3. Building commitment and engagement 6. Review prior skills and knowledge before beginning instruction
4. Present the lesson 7. Provide step-by-step instructions
8. Use clear and concise language
9. Provide an adequate range of examples and non-examples
5. Guided practice

6. Independent practice

10. Provide guided support and practice
11. Require frequent responses
12. Monitor student performance closely
13. Provide immediate affirmative and corrective feedback
14. Deliver lesson at a brisk pace
15. Help students organize knowledge
16. Provide distributed and cumulative practice

The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is NOT direct instruction vs. explicit instruction, but rather direct instruction *plus* explicit instruction. Direct instruction and explicit instruction are not mutually exclusive – they should be used in tandem for effective teaching and learning. Explicit instruction is an effective practice as it centers on the art of teaching. It is also critical to note that you cannot be an explicit instructor without an understanding of direct instruction.

Questions to consider
What should the student be able to do, understand, or care about as a result of the lesson?
What knowledge will the students be held accountable for?
What is the “hook” to get students excited about the lesson?
How will the lesson be presented? Do the students need to be retaught before practicing skills?
Are the students demonstrating learning? Is there individual remediation needed?
What do we do when a student needs just a little more practice?
How do we effectively tailor our Tier 1 instruction to meet the needs of all learners – especially those who may struggle the most?
Did the students meet the learning intentions? Does the lesson need to be retaught?
Does the homework, group and/or individual work offer an opportunity for decontextualization?

“I encourage teachers to teach.  Be the expert thinker.  Understand that you are guiding novice thinkers.
After all my years of teaching and observing teaching, I know this:
Students are happier and more assured, confident learners led by an Explicit Teacher.”
Ginna Fall, SST 1 Consultant

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Do you have questions about using Direct Instruction and Explicit Instruction and what you should be looking for during walkthroughs? Are you looking for coaching or professional learning for your staff? Help is just a call or email away! Drop us a line with your questions and requests. Our literacy consultants are happy to provide support and help you determine next steps.

View our staff directory

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red arrow with text reading important update
In December, Governor DeWine signed emergency legislation changes to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee Program, changing its criteria for the 2021-22 school year. The emergency clause affecting retention, parental consultation in promotion decisions, and parental notification of remediation plans takes place immediately. Please review the changes, and contact us if you have any questions.

Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee is a program to identify students from kindergarten through grade 3 who are behind in reading. Schools are to provide support to ensure students are on track for reading success by the end of third grade. Resources are available on the Department’s website to support your work in this area. We suggest setting aside some time to review the Reading Improvement and Monitoring Plan (RIMP) Intervention Video Series to help ensure you are meeting these expectations.

A strong home-school collaboration is important to helping students feel supported and encouraged in their learning. Additionally, the emergency changes to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee Program emphasize the need to consult with families in making decisions regarding a student’s promotion or retention, and any remediation plans prepared to improve their academic performance in reading.

The following resources can help you communicate with families to help them understand their child’s learning needs and open the door to a strong partnership.

Reading Improvement and Monitoring Plan Letters
Reading Improvement and Monitoring Plan letter is a required communication that informs families of the school’s plan to provide the instruction and supports a child needs to improve their reading skills. The Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center offers a letter template that can help you begin to build a solid working relationship with families.

Third Grade Reading Guarantee Family Resources
The Department has prepared a number of fact sheets and road maps to guide parents through their role in helping their child increase their literacy skills. You may choose to share this information with your families.

More resources

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March 16  |  Virtual
State Support Team 1
Gain evidence-based literacy practices and strategies to promote positive outcomes for learners following the timelines and requirements of the Ohio Dyslexia Legislation.

Join us each month!

Open through June 24  |  Virtual  |  Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center
Teachers from grades Pre-K through 3rd grade are invited to build their knowledge and skills for enhancing literacy instruction through family engagement.

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Level Up with Literacy is a bi-monthly digital publication that provides information and resources to help you ensure all learners have access to high-quality language and literacy instruction and appropriate interventions from birth through grade 12.

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