Direct Instruction Teaching Method: Definition, Examples & Strategies

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  • 0:02 What Is Direct Instruction?
  • 1:05 Constructivism
  • 2:11 Matching Instruction to Task
  • 2:48 When to Use Direct Instruction
  • 3:17 Mixing Teaching Methods
  • 4:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Maria Howard

Maria is a teacher and a learning specialist and has master's degrees in literature and education.

Learn about direct instruction and how educators use it effectively in their classrooms. Explore strategies for using direct instruction, including what types of information and subjects it is best suited for.

What Is Direct Instruction?

Direct instruction is the use of straightforward, explicit teaching techniques, usually to teach a specific skill. It is a teacher-directed method, meaning that the teacher stands in front of a classroom and presents the information. It might be a lesson in which the teacher very clearly outlines the order of all the planets in the solar system, or it might be a simple explanation and some examples of the double ff-ll-ss-zz spelling rule.

You might be thinking, isn't that how everything is taught in classrooms? Yes, this used to be true, but then we found that not all students benefit from listening to a teacher talk all day and that not all lessons are best taught through direct instruction. Teachers now match the type of instruction to the task, teaching directly when it suits the skill being taught. For example, the order of the planets is something best learned directly, while teaching what materials are magnetic is better learned, and much more engaging, through experimentation.

Constructivism

To understand the movement away from direct instruction, you have to learn about constructivism. Constructivism comes from the progressive education movement of the late 19th and early 20th century, when education reformers like John Dewey and Maria Montessori sought to make learners more active participants in their own education. Progressive education reformers saw direct instruction as largely ineffective and passive, through which learners are spoon-fed information instead of discovering for themselves.

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