Writing a Lesson Plan: Direct Instruction

Teaching in a classroom
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Lesson plans are tools used by teachers that provide detailed descriptions of course work, instruction, and a learning trajectory for a lesson. In more basic terms, it's a step by step guide for the goals for the teacher and how the students will accomplish them. This involves, obviously, setting goals, but also the activities that will take place and materials that will be needed for each class. Lesson plays are often daily outlines, and can be broken down into a number of steps.

In this article, we'll review direct instruction, which is how you will deliver the lesson information to your students. If your 8-step lesson plan were a hamburger, then the Direct Instruction section would be the all-beef patty; quite literally, the meat of the sandwich. After writing the Objective (or Goals) and Anticipatory Set, you're ready to delineate exactly how you will present the most important lesson information to your students.

Methods of Direct Instruction

Your methods of Direct Instruction can vary, and they could include reading a book, displaying diagrams, showing real-life examples of the subject matter, using props, discussing relevant characteristics, watching a video, or other hands-on and/or presentational steps directly related to your lesson plan's stated objective.

When determining your methods of Direct Instruction, consider the following questions:

  • How can I best tap into the various learning modalities (audio, visual, tactile, kinesthetic, etc.) to meet the learning style preferences of as many students as possible?
  • What materials (books, videos, pneumonic devices, visual aids, props, etc.) are available to me for this lesson?
  • What relevant vocabulary do I need to present to my students during the lesson?
  • What will my students need to learn in order to complete the lesson plans objectives and independent practice activities?
  • How can I engage my students in the lesson and encourage discussion and participation?

Developing Your Direct Instruction Section of the Lesson Plan

Think outside the box and try to discover fresh, new ways to engage your students' collective attention to the lesson concepts at hand. Are there educational methods that can you use that will enliven your classroom and get students excited about the material at hand? An engaged and curious class will be most successful when it comes to accomplishing goals.

Along those lines, it's always a good idea to avoid just standing in front of your students and talking at them, which is what we often call the lecture style classroom. While you may be used to this age-old instructional technique, it can be difficult to make it engaging, and your students' attention can easily drift. That is something you do not want to have happen. Lecture can also be a challenge for younger students to absorb and doesn't resonate with all learning styles. 

Get creative, hands-on, and excited about your lesson plan, and your students' interest will follow. What do you find the most interesting about the information you will be teaching? Do you have experiences you can draw upon that will allow you to include real-world examples? How have you seen other teachers present this topic? How can you introduce an object, so your students have something concrete to focus on while you explain the concepts?

Before you move on to the Guided Practice section of the lesson, check for understanding to ensure that your students are ready to practice the skills and concepts you have presented to them.

An Example of Direct Instruction

The Direct Instruction component of a lesson plan about rainforests and animals might include some of the following activities:

  • Read a book, such as "Life in the Rainforest: Plants, Animals, and People" by Melvin Berger.
  • Talk about the characteristics of plants and animals mentioned in the book, and get students involved in writing characteristics on a whiteboard or large piece of paper on the wall. Often, simply getting students up out of their seats will increase their level of engagement.
  • Show the class a real, living plant and walk them through the functions of the different parts of the plant. Turn this into a long-term project to keep the plant alive, which can translate one lesson on rainforests to an entirely new lesson plan on parts of a flower. 
  • Show the class a real, living exotic animal (perhaps a small pet brought in from home or a classroom pet borrowed from another teacher). Discuss the parts of the animal, how it grows, what it eats, and other characteristics.