Direct Instruction

Direct Instruction (DI) is a model for teaching that emphasizes well-developed and carefully planned lessons designed around small learning increments and clearly defined and prescribed teaching tasks. It is based on the theory that clear instruction eliminating misinterpretations can greatly improve and accelerate learning.

Its creators, Siegfried Engelmann and Dr. Wesley Becker and their colleagues believe and have proved that correctly applied, DI can improve academic performance as well as certain affective behaviors. It is currently in use in thousands of schools across the nation as well as in Canada, the UK and Australia. Schools using DI accept a vision that actually delivers many outcomes only promised by other models.

A crucial element in the implementation of DI in most cases is change. Teachers will generally be required to behave differently than before and schools may need an entirely different organization than they previously employed. Even staff members will be called upon to alter some operations.

The popular valuing of teacher creativity and autonomy as high priorities must give way to a willingness to follow certain carefully prescribed instructional practices. (Remaining the same, however, are the importance of hard work, dedication and commitment to students.) And it is crucial that all concerned adopt and internalize the belief that all students, if properly taught, can learn.


Teacher Resources

Nova Development Art Explosion


National Institute for Direct Instruction is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to providing school districts with a solid training program and approach for the implementation of DI in districts, schools and classrooms.

SRA McGraw-Hill Direct Instruction  

PSY 387 Athabasca University (Canada) interactive tutorial

Glossary of Terms

Association for Direct Instruction additional reports and documents from ADI

National Institute for Literacy is a federal organization that shares information about literacy and supports the development of high-quality literacy services so all Americans can develop essential basic skills.



Curricular Materials, Reading

Open Court ReadingOpen Court Reading is a research-based curriculum grounded in systematic, explicit instruction of phonemic awareness, phonics and word knowledge, comprehension skills and strategies, inquiry skills and strategies, and writing and language arts skills and strategies.

Reading fine literature is one of the founding principles of Open Court Reading, and the program literature selections exemplify how different forms of literature can all express a particular theme. Through various genres, children progressively deepen their understanding of the thematic learning units presented in each grade level.

Reading Mastery - signature edition (grades k-5) (Distar) Phonetically based reading instruction.

Corrective Reading (grades 4-12) Phonetically based reading instruction.

Edmark Sight based reading instruction.  Especially effective with students with autism and those students developmentally delayed.  Print Level 1 and 2 with supplementary materials.

Wilson Reading System A direct, multisensory, structured language approach to teach  phonologic coding.  Wilson teaches students to analyze the structure of words in English and apply their understanding of that structure when reading and spelling.  Reviewed by the Education Commission of the States, July 2002.

Project READ 

Project Read©/Language Circle© is a research  based mainstream language arts program for students who need a systematic learning experience with direct teaching of concepts and skills through multisensory techniques.

Project Read© has five curriculum strands:   Phonology , Linguistics , Reading Comprehension – Report Form , Reading Comprehension – Story Form , Written Expression.

The strands are integrated at all grade levels, but specific strands are emphasized at certain grade levels. 

Project Read©/Language Circle© is designed to be delivered in the regular classroom or by special education, chapter one, and reading teachers who work with children or adolescents with language learning problems. Project Read© is recommended as an early intervention program for grades one through six, but is equally effective with adolescents and adults. 

Project Read©/Language Circle© is cost effective. The cost per Project Read student is about 10% of the cost of funding a special education "pull out" program. Project Read's principles of systematic learning, direct concept teaching, and multisensory strategies reach the alternative instructional needs of students, thereby reducing the number of students referred for special services.

Reading Intervention for EARLY SUCCESS Newly revised, this intervention program offers research-based, classroom-tested resources to accelerate literacy growth in Grades 1 and 2.

Soar to Success:  The Reading Intervention Program (Aligned with Reading First) 3-8.  Soar to Success delivers specialized instruction to older struggling readers, helping them quickly reach or surpass their grade level in reading ability. Fast-paced structured lessons focus on comprehension strategies that transfer to all reading.

Telian Learning Concepts
The Telian program teaches phonemic awareness and phonics.

Nova Development Art Explosion


Nova Development Art Explosion

Curricular Materials, Mathematics

Touch Math Specific delivery but not scripted as are direct and explicit curricular materials.  Touch Math is a very concrete in its instruction.  Provides supports that are faded with student progress.

Everyday Mathematics (preK- 6th grade)

Corrective Math 2005 (grade level 3- adult)

Edmark Math: Counting Money, Hopping Good Cents: A New Method for Teaching the Counting of Money, Real Life Math : Living on a Paycheck, Real-Life Math, The Time Is Now; Millie's Math House (PreK-2) and Edmark Time Telling

On Cloud Nine: A Visualizing/Verbalizing Math Program developed by Kimberly Tuley and Nanci Bell, successfully stibigclassroom2duo1.gif (47414 bytes)mulates the ability to image and verbalize the concepts underlying math processes. Concept and Numeral imagery are integrated with language and applied to math computation and problem solving.  There is emphasis on both mathematical reasoning and mathematical computation. 

Saxon Math is unique because the entire program is based on introducing a topic to a student and then allowing them to build upon that concept as they learn new ones. Topics are never dropped but are instead increased in complexity and practiced every day, providing the time required for concepts to become totally familiar.

This incremental approach to math differs from most traditional programs, which are "chapter-based." In these traditional texts, students are presented with and expected to learn an entire mathematical concept in one day. The homework for that day consists of twenty or thirty problems, all of which deal with that concept. The topic is then only reviewed prior to a test, if at all. Saxon textbooks, however, divide concepts into smaller, more easily grasped pieces called increments. A new increment is presented each day and students work only a few problems involving the new material. The remaining homework consists of practice problems involving concepts previously introduced. Thus, every assignment (and every test) is a cumulative review of all material covered up to that point.


Curricular Materials, Other Skills


Handwriting without Tears Specific delivery but not scripted as are direct and explicit curricular materials.  Developmental in its approach.


Language for Learning (preK-2)

Language for Thinking (1-3)

Language for Writing (2-5)

Social Skills

Edmark published resources to teach: Self-Regulation for Kids K-12: Strategies for Calming Minds and Behavior, Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism: A Manual for Parents and Professionals

Edmark published resources to teach secondary school students; IMPACT!: A Self-Esteem Based Skill-Development Program for Secondary Students, Social Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs, Steps to Self-Determination: A Curriculum to Help Adolescents Learn to Achieve Their Goals, Teaching Social Competence to Youth and Adults with Developmental Disabilities: A Comprehensive Program, The Tough Stuff Series-Secondary; The Waksman Social Skills Curriculum for Adolescents: An Assertive Behavior Program, The Walker Social Skills Curriculum: ACCEPTS, The Walker Social Skills Curriculum: ACCESS

Nova Development Art Explosion

Strategies Intervention Model (SIM) 

University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning

National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities article, Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities to Use Learning Strategies

Institute for Academic Access A collaborative research project of the University of Kansas and University of Oregon to improve the success of high school students with disabilities.

National Center on Accelerating Student Learning (CASL)  The Center on Accelerating Student Learning (CASL) is designed to accelerate learning for students with disabilities in the early grades and thereby to provide a solid foundation for strong achievement in the intermediate grades and beyond. CASL is a five-year collaborative research effort supported by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Participating institutions are the University of Maryland, Teachers College of Columbia University, and Vanderbilt University.



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