Teaching Direct Instruction (DI) can be very demanding, especially in the early levels of the programs. In order to be effective, teachers must be able to:
- hold the presentation book so students can see it
- present the examples at a quick pace
- follow the scripted lessons
- know which words to emphasize
- signal at the right time after giving students enough "think time"
- observe whether all students respond in unison
- detect any errors in students' responses
- correct errors immediately
- reinforce students for working hard
- record points for the "Teacher-Student Game"
Melding these elements together for every lesson is difficult and initially requires daily practice. Teachers can practice reading the script out loud on their own and can practice correcting different errors with a partner. Practicing reading and correcting errors for the next day's lesson just 10 to 15 minutes per day pays huge dividends in student learning.
In addition to the routine daily practice, some exercises that address specific skills require special attention. Group in-service sessions are the best way to practice these targeted exercises and other potential problem areas that are critical to teaching DI effectively. In-service sessions cover such topics as:
- individual turns and delayed tests
- transitions between tasks and between groups
- correcting errors effectively
- teaching to mastery
- motivating students
- correcting comprehension errors
- actively monitoring independent work
- conducting mastery tests and checkouts
IMPORTANT: Many teachers who haven't used DI before may be under the impression that teaching DI is a simple affair. After all, the script provides the precise wording to say, the specific examples to present, and the types of corrections to make. What could be easier? The reality is that teaching DI is not easy. To be effective, teachers must be able to respond quickly and positively to students' answers, which can’t be done if the teachers' eyes are fixed on the script. Teachers' eyes and attention must be directed toward the students. Teachers' presentations must be fluid and flawless, which requires that teachers practice the presentations before working with students.