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Anita L Archer and Charles A Hughes have now released their new book “Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching” (Footprint Books 2011). Visit http://explicitinstruction.org/ to read the first chapter.
Anita Archer is an independent educational consultant, Portland OR, and Charles Hughes, PhD, is at the Department of Educational and School Psychology and Special Education at Pennsylvania State University.
Explicit instruction is systematic, direct, engaging and success oriented. It has been shown to promote achievement for all students.
This book aims to be a practical and accessible resource, giving special and general education teachers the tools to implement explicit instruction at any grade level or content area.
Archer and Hughes are leading experts who provide clear guidelines for identifying key concepts, skills, and routines to teach; how to design and deliver effective lessons; and ways to give students opportunities to practice new material until it’s mastered.
Sample lesson plans, examples and reproducible checklists, as well as teacher worksheets, enhance the book’s usefulness.
Sixteen Elements of Explicit Instruction from Chapter 1
- Focus instruction on critical content. Teach skills, strategies, vocabulary terms, concepts and rules students will need in the future, and which match their instructional needs.
- Sequence skills logically. Consider curricular variables. Teach easier skills before harder ones and high frequency skills before less frequently required skills. Ensure mastery of prerequisites to a skill before teaching the skill itself. Separate skills and strategies that are similar and therefore might be confusing.
- Break down complex skills and strategies into smaller instructional units. Teach in small steps. Segment complex skills into smaller units of new material to avoid overload of cognitive, processing and working-memory capacity. Once these units have been taught, synthesize them by practicing them as a whole.
- Design organized and focused lessons. This will make the best use of instructional time. Ensure that lessons are on topic, well sequenced and contain no irrelevant digressions.
- Begin lessons with a clear statement of the lessons’s goals and your expectations. Tell learners clearly what’s to be learned and why it matters. Students achieve more when they understand goals, expected outcomes and how the new information is relevant.
- Review prior skills and knowledge before beginning instruction. Review relevant information and verify that students have the relevant skills to learn what’s coming. (This also provides the opportunity to link the new skill with other related skills.)
- Provide step-by-step demonstrations. Model the skill. Clarify the decision-making processes needed by thinking aloud as you perform the skill. Demonstrate the task clearly to show what smooth performance looks like.
- Use clear, concise language. Make sure wording is unambiguous. Avoid confusion by tailoring your speech (vocabulary, sentence structure) to students’ receptive vocabulary.
- Provide an adequate range of examples — and non-examples. Students need to know when — and when not to — apply a skill, strategy, complex or rule. Offer a wide range of examples, so they will not “underuse” a skill. Conversely, offering non-examples reduces the chance they will use a skill inappropriately.
- Provide guided and supported practice. This will promote initial success and build confidence. Regulate the difficulty of practice opportunities. Guide students while they perform tasks. As they demonstrate success, increase task difficulty and decrease the level of guidance.
- Require frequent responses. Plan for a high level of student-teacher interaction through questioning. When students respond frequently through oral, written or action responses, they focus on the content of the lesson and are provided with opportunities for their own elaboration. In addition, you are able to check understanding. They stay active and interested.
- Monitor student performance closely. Watch carefully; listen to students’ responses in order to verify mastery or make timely adjustments. This offers you the chance to offer feedback where necessary.
- Provide immediate affirmative and corrective feedback. Follow up on students’ responses as quickly as you can; this helps ensure high rates of success and reduces the likelihood of practice errors.
- Deliver the lesson at a brisk pace. Deliver instruction at an appropriate pace to optimize not only instructional time, but also the amount of content and on-task behavior. The rate should be brisk but should include a reasonable amount of time for thinking and processing time — especially for new material. Don’t be so slow that students get bored; don’t be so quick that they panic about keeping up.
- Help students organize knowledge. Many students have difficulty seeing how certain skills and concepts fit together. Use teaching techniques that make these connections explicit. Well-organized and connected information makes it easier for a student to retrieve information and integrate it into new material.
- Provide distributed and cumulative practice. Distributed (vs. massed) practice refers to multiple opportunities to practice over time. Cumulative practice means providing distributed practice through including practice opportunities that address both previously and newly acquired skills. To assure retention as well as automaticity, provide students with multiple practice attempts.
“Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching” by Anita L Archer and Charles A Hughes is published by Footprint Books. ISBN 9781609180416. It is part of the “What Works for Special-needs Learners” series.
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