Student Interaction During Direct Instruction

A little humor goes a long way during Direct Instruction...

A little humor goes a long way during Direct Instruction…

During direct instruction, I try to let the students interact as much as possible. I also try to infuse some humor because a little humor goes a long way when battling for a teenagers’ attention span. There are two factors that may limit the previously mentioned things, behavior and time constraints. Both of the  factors, behavior and time constraints, can be problematic and lead to a teacher driven lesson for the day. I’ve told the students more than once – the more they talk the less I have to talk. They see me two times a day for Language Arts/Literature as well as Language Arts/Writing, so I like to keep the mood lighthearted but structured. Kids at this age (11-14) don’t do well when they aren’t in a structured environment. When I say structured, I mean creating a routine as well as an environment where kids know they are expected to work. I coach football and running a classroom is much like running a practice with obvious differences. Having a clear objective and activities on a daily basis helps with that previously mentioned notion of structure (i.e., Display Lessons on Whiteboard).

I digress, to direct instruction and the importance of involving students. At this grade level (7th), students sometimes think they know it all. We know that not to be the case, but they do have valuable input if you let them have the freedom to express their opinions, right or wrong. There has been great debate about, direct instruction vs problem solving based learning. For example, in an article written about lecture based learning vs other methods, “Students’ attention may wander during lectures, and they may more easily forget information they encountered in this passive manner. Lectures also emphasize learning by listening, which may disadvantage students who favor other learning styles. Alternative instructional practices based on active and problem-oriented learning presumably do not suffer from these disadvantages. But they may have their own shortcomings. Learning by problem-solving may be less efficient, as discovery and problem-solving often take more time than mastering information received from an authority figure. And incorrect or misleading information may be conveyed in conversations among students in middle schools.” The previously mentioned is why I’m careful not to lecture on a certain topic for more than 25 to 30 minutes (exceptions to the rules do occur) w/o breaking into another activity. I understand student’s attention span may be pushed to the limits via direct instruction, but it is good to do that at least 2-4 times a week. However, as a teacher, I know pushing their limits too much during a battle of their attention may cost me the war on comprehension. A typical class for me is as follows: bell work w/ call and response that allows student involvement, worksheets w/ call and response once finished to allow for student involvement, direct instruction where students are encouraged to interact as we move through the lecture, and close with a hands on activity about the lesson with a comprehension check as a ticket out of classroom.

It is no great kept secret that students don’t like taking notes during direct instruction, but if you’re upfront with them about using those notes as a reference when the assignment comes out, it cushions the blow;) It doesn’t work all the time, but honesty is the best policy. In closing, a few ways I like to get students involved during direct instruction are as follows: infusing a little humor in with the instruction/lesson, adding personal points of view from myself or from a student’s perspective, pausing for comprehension questions, letting students read the prompts from the textbook (they love that for some reason), and by moving around the room to keep students on task. I can tell my attention to preparation for a lecture has paid dividends since last year. Last year, I relied heavily on the book. This year, I infused my knowledge along with various materials to reach comprehension in a more student friendlier way. I’ve also added more hands on activities to keep kids actively engaged in the classroom. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about. All that said, I still have room for growth and development…

6 thoughts on “Student Interaction During Direct Instruction

    • This is very true… My father (teacher/coach/admin for over 30 years) always reminds me of this;)

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