When you have the correct resources, using direct instruction in your classroom goes so much smoother. Here are my top 5 recommendations for making direct instruction time go smoother and saves you time.
What is direct instruction
Direct instruction is an instructional approach to explicitly specific skills to students. The skills can be driven by the IEP, assessments, curriculum, etc. This type of instruction is systematic, structured and sequenced.
Direct instruction is teacher led and can be done in a one to one setting, small or large group. When teachers have the correct tools or resources, direct instruction can go smoothly and be effective.
Must haves for direct instruction
Here are my top 5 recommendations for making direct instruction go smoother. To begin, I try to think bigger picture instead of individual students. For example, think 5 out o 6 of my students are working on CVC words versus little Johnny needs to work on short E (vowel) CVC words. When you think about the bigger picture, you can better prepare for instruction.
Having a collection of basic visuals for reading and math skills typically addressed in your program at the tip of your fingers can be a game changer. If you have a student with limited wait time and you can’t find or reach your materials, everyone will be frustrated.
I use the instructional visuals from our reading and math units during direct instruction. They’re easy to prep, store and use. The bundles include every level I will ever need. For example, the reading bundle has letters and letter sounds visuals all the way up to contractions. The math bundle has visuals for patterns, numbers, adding, subtracting, fractions, etc. Read the blog post about direct instruction hacks for more info on how I organize and store these visuals.
As students respond to direct instruction and make progress, you want to have materials that grow in complexity. What you don’t want are materials that are so different the student has to learn new formats and rules instead of focusing on the skill. The picture below is an example of how the resource supports growth of the skill without radically changing.
This reading comprehension resource systematically teaches students to read and follow written directions while slowly adding in text and fading out the picture cues.
Manipulatives for direct instruction
Choose the maipulatives used during this time wisely. As with the visuals, try to think big picture by choosing manipulatives that can be used in multiple ways to help you teach and students practice many different skills. Here are my top 3 manipulatives. Disclaimer: Some of these links may be affiliate links. That means that if you purchase from the links, I get a small percentage at no cost to you.
- Snap blocks to work on colors, copying a pattern, extending a pattern, making sets, 1:1 correspondence, sorting, size concepts, etc.
- Magnetic money which you can use to target identifying money, adding, subtraction, word problems, sorting, etc. during direct instruction.
- Student clocks are ideal for working on reading and making time. Students can work on making the clock look like yours, to figure out elapsed time questions, practice telling time, etc.
Read more about versatile manipulatives in THIS BLOG POST.
Is students start finishing and transitioning to other activities early, it can be very distracting during direct instruction. This is an important instructional teaching time, so you want to prevent known distractions.
My favorite auditory cue is my wireless doorbell. Click HERE to read the blog post about many different ways you can use the wireless doorbell for classroom management. You could also use a small musical instrument such as a bell, egg shaker, bells, etc.
Dry erase boards
Dry erase boards are perfect for working on reading, spelling, asking and answering questions, adding, subtraction, etc. Here are some engaging ways to use them during direct instruction:
- Ask and answer questions: take turns writing questions to each other or the group. Students love getting to be the one to take control and don’t notice they’re working on writing, language, attending, reading, etc.
- Show your board and talk about it: students have to draw or write on their boards before getting the chance to share their board with you or the group.