Direct Instruction: An Effective Method of Teaching

James Irwin Charter Schools are committed to using both a faithful and deep implementation of the highly interactive method called Direction Instruction.

The National Institute for Direct Instruction gives this introductory definition: “Direct Instruction (DI) is a model for teaching that emphasizes well-developed and carefully planned lessons designed around small learning increments and clearly defined and prescribed teaching tasks. It is based on the theory that clear instruction eliminating misinterpretations can greatly improve and accelerate learning.”

DI was developed by researchers who went into the classroom and allowed students to show them what worked and what didn’t. In this way, techniques such as rapid teacher delivery, choral responses, signalling, testing for mastery (as contrasted with mere exposure to the content or skills), and careful, sequential ordering of material emerged as the most efficient and effective teacher tools. Clearly, then, the methodology cannot be characterized as a product of one or another “philosophy” of education. It is a pragmatic combination of practices that work.  Read More

Cursive First Pic

Cursive First –  The James Irwin Charter Schools are “Cursive First” schools.  From the first day our first elementary school opened, we have been a “Cursive First” school. We originally followed the direction given by such giants in the educational field as Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld, a strong advocate for phonics-based reading and teaching cursive before printing.

In his 1994 article, “How Should We Teach Our Children to Write? Cursive First, Print Later!,” Dr. Blumenfeld cited many benefits of teaching “cursive first”- eliminating letter reversals; increasing success in learning to read; decreasing confusion in word spacing; developing good spacial discipline; avoiding the “ball and stick” disaster created in printing; minimizing bad penmanship habits in early years; and even helping left-handed students produce neat writing.

We have seen this confirmed time and time again with ALL students, even for those who some would think could particularly struggle with cursive writing: lefties, boys, students with physical challenges, students with dyslexic diagnoses or tendencies. More recently, modern neurological research has continued to confirm the value and importance of teaching cursive first, cursive over both printing and word processing. Read More about our Cursive First Program