Adrienne Marois, Emily Cournoyer, Kimberly Scuito
Direct Instruction
McGraw Hill


Cost of program:
-EXAMPLE 1 (Reading):
 Teacher materials: $648.00
 1 Student Workbook: $56.79
 1 Storybook: $18.60

-EXAMPLE 2 (Mathematics):
 Teacher materials: $321.00
 Additional Teacher’s Guide: $28.80
 Student Workbook #1 (package of 5): $63.96
 Student Workbook #2 (package of 5): $63.96

Sample Lesson:

Brief Description of Program:

-The primary audience for this program is students of all abilities ranging anywhere from Pre-K through 12.

-The philosophy of SRA Direct Instruction is based on two principles: “(1) All students can learn when taught correctly, regardless of past history and background and (2) all teachers can be successful if given effective teaching materials and presentation techniques.” (http://sradirectinstruction.com) Direct Instruction was formulated on the theory that students perform their best when the instruction they receives is of a high quality.

-The SRA Direct Instruction strategy has Pre-K - 12 programs for mathematics, reading, language arts, and early oral language development.

-Literacy Skills: Through the Direct Instruction Program, many literacy skills are taught. Some of these include decoding, letter recognition, letter-sound correspondence, fluency, and informative “how to’s” when using a book or text (example: reading from left to right, putting your finger under the text to help follow along).

Specific Literacy Programs:

A) Reading Mastery Signature Edition 2008 (Grades K–6)
“Help students develop into fluent, independent, and highly skilled readers with this Direct Instruction reading intervention program”

B) Reading Mastery Classic 2003 (Grades Pre-K–2 )
“Get your young readers off to a strong start”

C) Reading Mastery Plus 2002 (Grades Pre-K–6)
“Provides a strong reading and language arts curriculum”

D) Corrective Reading 2008 (Grades 3–Adult)
“Intensive Direct Instruction-based reading intervention for students struggling with decoding and comprehension”

E) Corrective Reading 1999 (Grades 3–Adult)
“Give struggling readers the tools to become better learners”

F) The REACH System 2002 (Grades 4–Adult)
“Maximize outcomes with intensive intervention”

G) Horizons 1998 (Grades K–4)
“The right start for early reading”

H) Journeys 2000 (Grades K–3)
“Put children on the path to academic success”

I) Your World of Facts 1992 (Grades 3–6)
“Teach skills and background knowledge that support effective learning”

-This program is designed to help students with mild/moderate disabilities because it focuses on breaking down specific reading skills in a “task analysis” manner, which helps struggling students better understand the overall reading process. Also, this program focuses on full mastery of all skills, meaning that the teacher cannot move onto the next step until all students fully comprehend the previous lesson.

-The type of instruction involved is very teacher-based. The teacher has full control throughout the entire lesson. The teacher must follow a script word-for-word and cannot deviate from the structured routine in order to ensure the best possible outcome for success.

Video of Lesson and other Aspects of Direct Instruction:

Analysis of the program:
Researched Based?
- Yes! This program is researched based and has been for nearly 50 years. The research papers and articles are easily accessible on the program’s website. The SRA Reading Direct Instruction Program also offers grants for students attending specific universities such as Utah State University to conduct research as to the validity and reliability of this program.

Literacy Skills Integrated/Isolated?
- The Direct Instruction Program breaks each reading skills down to its most basic form and then builds the student’s ability to master those basic skills before moving on to more complex skills. For example, student’s must all show a master of letter sounds before they can move into blending or word decoding. By isolating the reading skills, Direct Instruction hopes to allow every participating student the opportunity to be successful readers and decoders.

Incorporate Skills in Developmental Progression?
- Teachers who utilize the Direct Instruction program start at a very basic reading level. Most of the students participating in this program have had difficulty with reading, letter sounds or word recording. This program allows teachers to start with the most basic level of reading and progress towards grade level expectations. In this way, the program has a developmental progression from basic to more complex. As students continue to move through the program throughout the year, they build on skills and recognition skills that they have developed from the beginning of the year.

Structured Teacher-Directed Instruction?
- This program is highly structured and the instruction is completely teacher-directed. The reading program asks students to sit facing the teacher and follow the scripted commands given by the teacher. The students many participate only when called on by the teacher or given the correct cue phrase such as “Your turn!”. Each lesson is scripted and the teacher must follow the program word-for-word. Although the teacher may have to go back to lesson or activity if any student did not show mastery or comprehension of that particular concept or sound. In this way, the program restricts creative expression almost completely. By following the script, the program is structured and predictable for students which allow them to grow. However, it also does not broaden their learning capabilities for other pieces of literature.

Multi-Sensory Instruction?
- The Direct Instruction program is dominated by visual and auditory sensory instruction. The teacher is constantly speaking to the students and asking them to listen to the sounds of letters and words on the page. They are also asking the students to look at the words and follow their fingers as they move along the bottom of a letter, word, or phrase; which indicates how fast or slow the students should be pronouncing the word. This program, however, lacks any kinesthetic or tactile sensory instruction. The students remain seating throughout the entire lesson. This can be difficult for some students, especially students who already have a disposition towards fidgeting and distraction.

Opportunities for Practice and Learning to Master?
- Direct Instruction emphasizes the fact that a teacher cannot move on to new material until all of the students in the class or group have mastered that particular set of letters, words or phrases. To ensure that each student has comprehended the material, the teacher randomly calls on specific students and asks them to repeat the list of words they had recently reviewed. If the student is accurate, then the teacher moves to another student until each and every student repeats that desired letter, word or phrase correctly. In this way it does emphasize practice and provide students the opportunities to show their mastery of the material.

Development of Self-Regulation Skills?
- Although the Direct Instruction program does provide a large amount of teacher instruction, it does not fully emphasize self-regulation skills. The only form of self-regulation may be found in the student’s ability to correct themselves if they pronounce a letter sound or word incorrectly. In this instance, the teacher would instruct the student to sound out the word slowly, letter sound by letter sound until they were able to pronounce the word. This is a simple self-regulation skills but it is used by students many times throughout the lesson. It may be a very simple skill, but it does seem to be successful. Other than this self-regulation skill, this program does not focus on other skills that would enhance metacognitive abilities.

-Correlation to general education?
SRA Direct Instruction and its method of phonemic awareness provides a flexible phonemic and phonological skills development curriculum that is directly alight with DIBELS, which is Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills used in the general education classroom. DIBELS assess seven areas such as phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, accuracy and fluency with connected text, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. The SRA Direct Instruction of phonemic awareness is 15-20 minute short lessons that are taught in succession to one another. It correlates to the general education DIBELS testing through preparing students by practicing initial sound fluency and phoneme segmentation fluency.

-Does the method include an assessment component to screen for placement, and/or monitor progress?
For Direct Instruction, teachers must give a placement test so students can be screened and placed at an appropriate level. To monitor progress, teachers must follow scripted lessons to ensure the consistency of their teaching and use individual and group responses to keep all students engaged. To prevent errors from becoming learned habits, teachers must also implement planned correction procedures, which give immediate feedback to the student about a response.

-Materials and Texts used:
SRA Direct Instruction includes a flip text book that teacher uses to instruct the students with. This text is usually place on an easel for all the students to see and sit around. SRA Direct Instruction also has a workbook in which students complete one worksheet after the short lesson is complete. The worksheets within the workbook correlate with the lesson that was taught during that day.

-Group Size:
Group size is usually around 5 to 10 students. The groups are meant to be kept small so the students can get individual instruction while also participating in group responses as well.

-Training Necessary for Teachers:
To teach SRA Direct Instruction, teachers must only teach one strategy at a time and make sure they teach these strategies in sequence. The teacher must be trained not to move on if students do not understand a concept. Teachers must follow a step-by-step process to implement the program:
1. Show them: Demonstrate the skill, elicit student participation, assess student understanding.
2. Watch the students and give them praise. Teachers must also give corrective feedback immediately.
3. Teachers must make the students use the skill and practice.
4. Teachers must also go at an appropriate pace for the students. If they are struggling with a concept, teachers should slow down the pace of the lesson.

-Could this program be used in an inclusive classroom?
This program can definitely be used in an inclusive classroom. Teachers can use this program with general education and special education students although it has been seen to be highly effective in resource rooms. SRA would be very effective for any type of learner and could be beneficial to improve skills at several grade levels.

Strengths of the Direct Instruction Program?
- The program is consistent and structured. The students are able to get into the routine of the program and focus on making progress rather than learning new teaching strategies and structures.
- Every student in the group actively participates throughout the entire lesson. It also emphasizes individual participation which can allow the teacher to make informal observations of each student.
- The program breaks each literacy skill down into its most basic form and starts from there. This way, students are able to master each skill together while working towards the more complex skills.
- Direct Instruction emphasizes the idea that each and every student in the group succeeds. The teacher cannot move forward with instruction until every student has shown competency with that skill.
- This program was designed for students of all abilities, ensuring that every student can participate regardless of prior knowledge or skill.
- The materials that are provided, especially the worksheets, connect skills that they have just learned and then to apply those skills in an effective manner.

Weaknesses of the Direct Instruction Program?
- The Direct Instruction program limits and restricts the teacher’s creative ability. The teacher is unable to deviate from the scripted lessons and therefore is unable to design her own instruction.
- If a student is not benefiting from this program or does not learn well from simply auditory and visual instruction, then he or she may suffer academically. This may also affect the teacher and his/her ability to move onto another topic if one student is particularly struggling.
- This program and its materials are quite expensive for schools and school districts to implement.
- Because this program is so structured and scripted, it makes it difficult for substitute teachers or any other untrained profession to teach this program. The students then lose the routine and are unable to benefit from the lesson.
- Also, because this program lacks variation and creativity, students may be bored with lessons and either becomes disruptive or their progress suffers. This is especially true for younger grades such as kindergarten. They are unable to “show ready” or follow every direction because of their inability to focus for a long period of time.

I would not use the Direct Instruction program as a first year special education teacher. Although it provides structure and predictability for students, it has limitations that restrict teachers tremendously. As we have progressed through our college education, there are some principles that are regularly reinforced. One of these principles is the importance of being creative with one’s instruction. Each student is unique and has different learning styles. As future teachers, we recognize the importance of catering to those styles and providing the appropriate instruction. The Direct Instruction program completely limits the teacher’s creative ability and is mainly geared towards visual and auditory learners. As a first year special education teacher, we would like to have the flexibility and opportunity to provide modified or adapted instruction based on the principles that we have been reinforced with.

Interview with P.Szlosek (Special Educator, Trained in Direct Instruction)
Personal Observations