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Explicit Instruction & the Secondary ELA Classroom
Transcript of Explicit Instruction & the Secondary ELA Classroom
Explicit Instruction & the Secondary ELA Classroom
How do the principles of Explicit Instruction enhance those of effective ELA instruction?
The principles of Explicit Instruction are embedded in the effective instruction of English Language Arts. Student engagement in ELA learning objectives is optimized when instruction and materials center around students' sense of self or sense of youth culture (Andrews 2006). We address and validate individual student voices and student learning preferences when we provide them with opportunities to explore and create multimodal formats of knowledge, which promotes high levels of learning achievement for students (Gee 2004). Most of all, when we utilize the "I do, we do, you do" paradigm in conjunction with the "self-text-world" paradigm, students are able to explore these formats with clearer purposes and clearer questions, which enables them to create clearer ideas on which to continue building their foundations of knowledge.
Video 2: Pronunciation of Multisyllabic Passage Words
Choral Response & Optimizing Engagement
"Explicit instruction is systematic, direct, engaging, and success oriented. The effectiveness of explicit instruction has been validated again and again in research involving both general education and special education students. While it has proven to be very helpful for normally progressing students, it is essential for students with learning challenges. Explicit instruction is absolutely necessary in teaching content that students could not otherwise discover" (Archer & Hughes, 2011)."
Created by: Colleen DeRonda
LAI 574 Teaching Exceptional Learners
A professional definition and rationale
Principles of Effective ELA Instruction
1. Utilize the "self-text-world" connection paradigm. Always start by engaging students through their sense of youth and sense of self (Andrews 2006).
How does a teacher implement explicit instruction?
6 principles of Explicit Instruction
Video 3: Vocabulary Instruction, Grade 6 Language Arts
Video 2: Pronunciation of Multi-syllabic Passage Words, Grade 6 Language Arts
Description: In this video, Archer acted as the instructor for a class of 7th grade students. While this class wasn't necessarily an ELA class, the active participation strategies of choral response and partner responses that students learn to use here are some that are also used in ELA instruction.
Video 1: Active Participation Instruction, grade 7
Video 1: Active Participation Instruction
Returning to the Driving Question
How does my exploration of how strategies and concepts of Explicit Instruction in ELA classrooms impact my instruction of ELA in the future?
1. Optimize the time that students spend engaged in on-task learning activities
2. Promote high levels of success
3. Increase content coverage
4. Spend more time in instructional groups
5. Scaffold Instruction
6. Address different forms of knowledge
Providing effective explicit instruction requires the teacher to incorporate 6 main principles into their overall practice:
Archer (Explicit Instruction Charts 2010) defines these principles as the following:
Pages 126 and 127 of our textbook elaborate on specific practices that incorporate these principles (Smith et al. 2012).
1. Capitalize on location
2. Utilize the demonstration-guided, practice-independent, practice-evaluation paradigm
3. Take great care in presenting new information
4. Use multisensory experiences
5. Make needed lecture-related accommodations
6. Use assistive technology
For special-needs and general learners, explicit instruction provides the necessary strategic interventions and preventions for promoting student gains in academic areas like math, reading, and writing (Archer & Hughes 2011). Teachers who use multisensory experiences or universally designed learning experiences, and who practice the "demonstration-guided, practice-independent, and practice-evaluation" paradigm - also known as the "I do, we do, you do" model - engage their students in learning activities that support their achievement of high levels of academic success (Smith et al. 2012).
2. Amplify and empower the voices of the youth in our classrooms; connect them to the power of language and cultivate in each of them a capacity - and desire - for wielding that power for themselves and for others (Andrews 2006).
Three major points make up the framework of UB's Adolescent English Education program:
3. Enhance students' ability to locate, comprehend, analyze, and synthesize information in multimodal formats so that students become better consumers and communicators within an ever-developing range of information, and informative technological systems and devices (Gee 2004).
I selected the following videos for my reflection on explicit instruction.. For each of these videos, I will provide a description of the instruction taking place, identify and explain the explicit instruction practices being implemented, and relate these practices to ELA instructional principles. My aim is to reflect on specific instances in these videos where explicit instruction principles enhance those of ELA instruction.
Description: In Video 2, Archer teaches students strategies for decoding multi-syllabic words found in the passage of the lesson's reading. She instructed students to break the word down into smaller parts, or into syllables, in order to decode words that the students would need to be able to pronounce and understand in order to comprehend the passage. Archer also implemented the choral response strategy to engage students in guided practice for pronouncing these words.
Description: The third video shows Archer leading students through vocabulary instruction for the words that they practiced pronouncing in the previous video. She continued to implement the choral response strategy to have students read the word or sentences associated with the word. Archer used the word in sentences about experiences students might be familiar with, and typically asked them to decide "yes" or "no" if the sentence did or did not use the word in a correct context. Students copied down the definitions in their own words in vocabulary logs, while Archer circulated the room to monitor their progress.
Two strategies that Archer taught students included "choral responses," and "partner responses." To instruct students in practicing strategies, she defined the response, modeled it, then practiced it with the students before having them practice independently, demonstrating the "I do, we do, you do" paradigm of effective explicit instruction.
definition: used when answers or desired responses are short and identical for each student.
procedure: teacher asks a question, provides "thinking time," and gives a cue for all students to respond simultaneously. This cue can be verbal (saying "everyone," as Archer did), or physical (raising a hand, opening arms, or waving a palm up towards class are examples I have seen other teachers use).
definition: used when responses to a question may be long, complex, and/or varied across students.
procedure: teacher assigns partners, introduces a discussion strategy, models, the strategy, and supports students as they practice with one another. One strategy is look, lean, whisper, like Archer used. Another strategy frequently used in secondary ELA is "think pair share," which is used primarily as a writing or pre-discussion activity.
"I do, we do, you do"
In my experience, ELA instructional practices incorporate partner response strategies to a greater extent than they do choral response strategies. It was useful to see these strategies taught through explicit instruction, because it showed me that when students gain a clearer understanding of what behaviors and learning attitudes were expected of them when they were asked to participate, more learning is able to occur. During student-teaching, the first time I asked students do a partner response activity I neglected the "we do" aspect of the "I do, we do, you do" instructional paradigm. By not modeling or practicing the possibility for diverse responses, or how to challenge or expand on different ideas that are shared, students struggled with the thinking process that goes with their written response, and with how to share their responses and reply to their partner. Kids have a habit, whether because of school culture or today's culture at large, of thinking that things have one right answer. This activity asks them to think of ideas rather than answers, which is challenging because it is an unfamiliar way of thinking. While I gave clear instructions on the activity (I do) and supported them as they participated (you do), if I had also practiced the activity with them, I could have addressed the common points of confusion beforehand and we could have spent more time on generating thoughts and ideas that made up the purpose of the activity..
By breaking down the multi-syllabic words into parts, Archer demonstrated the explicit instruction principle of scaffolding instruction. Specifically, she helped students organize their knowledge about pronunciation through the method of "chunking," which is breaking down complex skills and concepts into smaller, more manageable processes. Then, she built on the pronunciation of parts of a word to the pronunciation of the whole word, and then to discussing what the word means or giving examples of some of the words.
In order to provide students opportunities to respond to the new words and practice saying them, Archer engaged her students in choral response. Following the procedure outlined in the first video discussion, Archer used this strategy as part of her scaffolding of instruction. As she pointed out each part or syllable of the word, she used the verbal cues of "first part" and then "next part" to cue students to pronounce each part separately. She then cued students to pronounce the whole word by saying, "the whole word... Everyone."
While I recognized Archer's intent to engage the whole class in participating in the pronunciation practice, I also noticed that some students remained quiet or silent during this time. A weakness of this strategy is that it seems to allow some student voices to speak for or over others, which ends up blocking opportunities for each student to respond to and learn the new words. Because the first principle of effective explicit instruction is to "optimize engagement," my observations of this video give me some reservations about the effectiveness of this strategy to engage students. One teacher I observed in a middle school ELA class used a strategy that combined choral responses with partner responses by having the kids whisper their vocabulary word to a neighbor after they said the word as a class. Not only did this strategy provide reinforcement for the kids who participated chorally, but it gave those who didn't participate a second chance to practice saying the word.
Addressing Different Forms of Knowledge... ?
Reinforcement: Requiring Frequent Responses
Pronunciation attached to word definition: Archer built off of the word-pronunciation practice by having students recite the word again, before providing it's definition and giving examples.
Examples: After providing a definition, Archer reinforced that definition by using the word in multiple examples that contextualized the word in common student experiences as well as the passage topic.
Check for understanding: Archer asked students to differentiate between correct and incorrect usage of the word "elude" in a variety of sentences. Students responded "yes" or "no" depending on their understanding. I think she missed an opportunity to expand students' understanding and to assess the extent of their understanding by asking these "yes" or "no" questions. She could have asked students to elaborate on how they knew the word was used correctly or incorrectly, and also could have had students create their own sentences using the word in correct context. This way, as Archer circulated the room, she would be better able to assess her own instruction and students' understanding based on whether or not students just knew the definition, or if they understood it well enough to use it appropriately.
The class recorded their vocabulary with definitions in their own words using a "Vocabulary Log." As far as I could tell, students didn't go beyond paraphrasing the definitions in this video, but I have seen teachers ask students for illustrated examples of vocabulary words, creative stories that use and reflect the definition of each word, or as a simpler version of "creative writing," having students simply use each word in a single sentence that reflects the definition and in the appropriate word form.
I like the idea of Vocabulary Logs because it is one way to address many principles of Explicit Instruction. First, it helps students organize their knowledge. Vocab activities are collected in a single source, making it a convenient study or review reference. It also addresses the principle of providing opportunities for guided and supported practice through the "I do, we do, you do" paradigm as students move from mastering understanding what words mean, to how and why certain words are used.
I was impressed when Archer asked students to predict how the word "elude" might be used in that day's reading passage. It reactivated the background knowledge students worked to build at the lesson's beginning, and required them to think more deeply about the word's meaning in order to anticipate how it might be connected to the context of the passage. Encouraging this kind of anticipatory thinking is necessary to effectively strengthening reading comprehension and literacy skills in ELA because students have to not only interpret the text in front of them, but also connect those interpretations to their background knowledge in order to make predictions about possible outcomes.
One of the things that disappointed me in this part of the lesson was the limited "forms" of knowledge being addressed. Archer seemed to focus on having students demonstrate their knowledge in verbal or written form, but based on the principles of universally designed learning, I would imagine that some students might have more strongly retained the vocabulary by demonstrating their understanding through physical movement or artistic presentation. The students in the video seemed to collectively engage in the Vocabulary Log more so than they did in any other part of Archer's lesson, because other than the choral responses, it was the only time and the only way she asked them to demonstrate their knowledge. Artistically, students could have made an illustration like I previously suggested, and to address physical demonstrations of learning, students could even have acted out examples of the vocabulary. Since vocabulary expansion is part of the Common Core Standards for ELA, watching this video helped me recognize some ways that teachers could improve upon a traditionally painful procedure and create much more powerful, meaningful ways to make new words a regular part of student language use.
re - lent - less
That which does not relent; adamant; unyielding
In light of my examination of how the principles of Explicit Instruction enhance those of effective ELA instruction, I came to recognize a pattern in the repetitive practice opportunities that are provided via the "I do, you do, we do" paradigm and the principle of guided and supported practice, promoting a greater extent of student participation by optimizing engagement and addressing different forms of knowledge. The more students interact with new material, styles of thinking, and modes of expression, the greater their success in learning mastery. To provide this kind of instruction, teachers need to be relentless in providing opportunities for students to practice. According to Archer, being a relentless teacher means understanding that, "It's not just practice initially, but it is also distributed and cumulative practice... It's again and again and again." In my future instruction, I want to be relentless in promoting students' learning success so that they can grow to be relentless in their lifelong pursuit of learning.
Andrews, L. (2006). Language exploration and awareness. (3rd ed.). Routeledge.
Archer, A. (2008). Active participation instruction, 7th grade. In Strategic Literacy Instruction. Sonoma County Office of Education. Retrieved from http://www.scoe.org/pub/htdocs/archer-videos.html
Archer, A. (Producer). (2011, Jan 10). Anita Archer on what it means to be a relentless teacher [Web Video]. Retrieved from
Archer, A. (2010). Explicit instruction charts. In A. Archer (Ed.), Improving Instruction in Every Classroom. Sonoma County Office of Education. Retrieved from http://www.scoe.org/files/explicit-instruction-charts.pdf
Archer, A., & Hughes, C. (2011). Pronunciation of multi-syllabic passage words: Sixth grade language arts. In A. Archer (Ed.), Explicit Instruction. Retrieved from http://explicitinstruction.org/?page_id=315
Archer, A., & Hughes, C. (2011). Vocabulary instruction: Sixth grade language arts. In A. Archer (Ed.), Explicit Instruction. Retrieved from http://explicitinstruction.org/?page_id=315
Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schools. Routeledge.
Smith, T. E. C., Polloway, E. A., Patton, J. R., & Dowdy, C. A. (2012). Teaching students with special needs in inclusive settings. (6th ed., pp. 126-127). Pearson.