Be Direct!

Imagine you are being sent to a large store to pick up a small item. Which of the following two sets of instructions would most likely get you to the item in the easiest manner?

  1. Go to the store, go inside and go to the west side of the building.  You’ll find it over there.
  2. Go to the store, use entrance 2 to enter the west side of the building.  Go to the Hardware Section, find aisle 7 and look on the second shelf from the bottom about six feet into the aisle. 

Obviously, the second set of instructions gives you the greatest direction for completing your task.   

Shouldn’t our classroom lessons also include some very direct instructions for students?  Absolutely!

Researchers John Hattie and Robert Marzano both indicate the necessity for direct instruction in classrooms (Source:  The following are a few (not all) of the suggestions they provide:

  1. Provide worked examples – Show students a completed example of the problem, assignment, or product.  Take the time to explain how each step in the example is to be completed, so that when they encounter something similar they will know how to respond. 
  2. Provide non-example – Use a non-example side-by-side with an example to compare and contrast (show similarities and differences).  This technique will help students better understand how to apply content and complete the tasks they are given. 
  3. Employ Graphic Organizers – Graphic organizers allow students to show overt connections between concepts, steps, lists, etc.).  Find ways to incorporate them into your classroom practice. 

As you prepare for next week, look for opportunities that would allow for direct instruction.  You and your students will be glad you did!

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