Arthur Academy charter schools specialize in a unique instructional model: a way of teaching that defines our charter school option.
This model involves a comprehensive approach to teaching early literacy and the fundamentals of math. It is based on the belief that a powerful and effective way of teaching exists that is not being fully utilized in schools. Therefore, it is being offered, by our charter schools, as a choice for parents who want their child(ren) to be educated using this model.
The name of this model is Direct Instruction: a trade name for a set of academic programs initially developed by Siegfried Engelmann in the 1960’s. The first programs were for children in grades k-3. They have since been extended to include programs for grades k-5, with some extensions into middle school. After initially developing the k-3 programs at the University of Illinois, further research and development was carried out at the University of Oregon after 1970, further confirming the efficacy of this model.
Direct Instruction (DI) programs are designed for teaching grade level subjects, for the general population, and for teaching more intensive and focused interventions, for those needing help in catching up and keeping up. Each program contains daily lessons covering a typical school year and condensed portions of yearly programs for intervention. The programs include a Teacher’s Manual with detailed directions for: what is taught (content), how it’s taught (instructional practices), and how to use the student materials. Each program assumes that “if a student fails to learn, it is not the fault of the student, but rather the instruction”.
Direct Instruction programs make up the most thoroughly documented educational reform model in elementary and middle school grades. They contain well-developed and carefully planned daily lessons designed around small sequential teaching progressions with clearly described and prescribed teaching tasks. A typical lesson includes a carefully selected series of tasks, timely demonstrations, guided oral and written practice, testing and independent assignments. This process is often described as: “I do, We do and You do”.
In a successful DI program, general objectives have been broken down into very small teaching progressions. All activities, and examples for each lesson, are researched, field-tested and carefully analyzed to follow a sequence that can be easily learned and incorporated into more complex, higher levels of application. Previously learned skills and concepts are continually used and applied, with less need for review. The activities are presented in very precise, interactive ways, so that lessons are easier for students to understand.
Since teaching progressions are arranged incrementally, students find learning easy and exciting, yet challenging. Each lesson contains only 10% to 15% new learning, so mastery is attainable in each lesson. In order to progress through a program, mastery is required for each lesson so the incremental demands of new lessons can be met and won’t frustrate or overwhelm the child; thus resulting in confident and successful students. Mastery requirements and sequential programming work hand in hand to create this highly successful model of instruction.
(Basic Philosophy: http://www.nifdi.org/what-is-di/basic-philosophy)
(Zig Engelmann interview: http://www.nifdi.org/what-is-di/zig-videos-on-instruction)