Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Explicit Direct Instruction

So after three days of being told that Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI) is not scripted, what have I learned?

Well, while the lessons don’t have a script per se to be read, the structure of the lesson is very rigid and the ability to deviate from that format is strongly discouraged.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a classroom full of elementary students, or secondary students with low levels of academic performance.  However, I don’t see this format in my Senior dominated college prep or Advanced Placement classes.  EDI seems great for drilling in factual or basic conceptual information, but does little to facilitate open discussion and higher levels of critical thinking.  Yes, I can drill the concept of Opportunity Cost into the head of my students and they would probably answer it correct on a state test.  But what about real relevance (the reason they remain engaged)?  What about the “hook”?  The presenter keeps saying that the hook is the student being successful.  Sure, the lower level student that might not be used to success.  But many students want a reason to come back to the classroom and learn, and that is often relevancy in the material.  So with the concept of Opportunity Cost, I can look at personal decision making, community decision making, and the decisions made by government.  Hey look, what we learned actually matters!

I’ve asked a variety of questions regarding the rigidity of the the lessons (the focus of the workshop) and most answers include “look at the brain research”, “teachers need to accept what’s better and drop the ego”, or the question is simply glossed over and you know what, that’s just the way it is. 

That’s not to say that the concepts and strategies aren’t good teaching.  I need to do more “checking for understanding” during the class period.  That much is absolutely clear.  I also like the class use of white boards for every student.  This way everyone has some minor engagement that maintains focus on me and the lesson.  And I’m really interested in getting the students more involved in Content Standards.  Hell, why shouldn’t they know what they are supposed to learn from the state?

But the rigid process of the lesson plan is pretty damn off putting for me.  I learned in my credential program how to create super detailed lessons and I was held very accountable for those details.  But the format was never so automated that you could almost plug in the robot to do the lesson.  No, the exact words aren’t there, but the scripted structure is evident.  Call it ego, call it passive resistance, but I’m not interested in seeing the energy sucked out of my classroom.

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