Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mastering Explict Instruction - Part 3

By Dr. Deni Basaraba, RME Assessment Coordinator

We have been doing a series on how all students, particularly those who are struggling, benefit from the provision of explicit instruction (Baker, Gersten, & Lee, 2002; Carnine, 1997; Doabler et al., 2012; Witzel, Mercer, & Miller, 2003). Van de Walle (2013) characterizes explicit instruction as highly-structured, teacher-led instruction on a specific strategy. He explains how this approach can help uncover or make overt the thinking strategies that support mathematical problem solving for students with disabilities.
We started a list of the methods and elements of explicit instruction (see the previous two posts!). To continue this series of blogs, here are some additional elements of explicit instruction as well as examples and/or steps to carrying out these recommendations.

Using clear, concise, and consistent language that is not ambiguous, does not introduce irrelevant or unnecessary information into instruction, and is consistent across teacher models, whole group practice, and to elicit student responses so that students know what they are expected to do. Here are some suggestions to help with this element:
  • Train interventionists to explain math content
  • Include math concepts, vocabulary, formulas, procedures, reasoning and methods
  • Use clear language understandable to students
Providing a range of examples and non-examples to help students determine when and when not to apply a skill, strategy, concept, or rule. Including a wide-range of positive examples during instruction provides students with multiple opportunities to practice the using the target strategy or skill while including non-examples can help reduce the possibility that students will use the skill inappropriately or over-generalize it to inappropriate mathematics problems. For example, here are some examples and non-examples of an algebraic expression:
  • Example: Suppose we wanted to write an expression to find the total cost of movie tickets for different groups of people, given that tickets cost $7 each. We can define the variable "p" to represent the number of people in a group. Then the algebraic expression 7 x p or 7p represents the total cost of movie tickets for a group of p people.
  • Non-example:The expression 550 + 20 is not an algebraic expression because it does not contain at least one variable.
Requiring frequent responses by relying minimally on individual student turns (e.g., asking students to raise their hand if they have the correct response) and relying more on the use of questioning to elicit various types of responses such as oral responses (e.g., having pre-identified partners or groups of students such as boys/girls, 1s/2s, apples/oranges respond), written responses, and/or action responses (e.g., thumbs up/thumbs down). Increasing the number of opportunities students have to respond during the lesson promotes a high level of student-teacher interaction, helps keep students engaged with the content, provides multiple opportunities for student practice with and elaboration on the newly learned content, and can help you monitor student understanding.

We have four more suggestions for mastering explicit instruction! Stay tuned!!

Baker, S. K., Gersten, R., & Lee, D. (2002). A synthesis of empirical research on teaching mathematics to low-achieving students. The Elementary School Journal, 103, 51-73.

Carnine, D. W. (1997). Instructional design in mathematics for students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 30, 130-141.

Doabler, C. T., Cary, M. S., Jungjohann, K., Clarke, B., Fien, H., Baker, S., Smolkowski, K., & Chard, D. (2012). Enhancing core mathematics instruction for students at risk for mathematics disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 44, 48-57.

Van De Walle, J.A., Karp, K.S., & Bay-Williams, J.M. (2013). Elementary and middle school mathematics: Teaching developmentally, 8th edition. Boston: Pearson.

Witzel, B. S., Mercer, C. D., & Miller, M. D. (2003). Teaching algebra to students with learning difficulties: An investigation of an explicit instruction model. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 18, 121-131.

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