There are two distinct types of instructional methods; all other strategies seem to fall into one or the other method. The two methods that I am talking about are the direct instructional method and the indirect instructional method. As the name indicates, the direct instructional method is very direct, and depends on a teacher centered approach. The indirect instructional method is indirect or an inquiry method of teaching, indirect instruction focuses on a student centered approach to teaching. As a future secondary science teacher both direct and indirect instruction will be used in my classroom to create an engaging and exciting learning environment. There will be times in my instruction that I will need to present information and facts to students that they need to know, in these cases a direct approach may be the most effective strategy. Other times my students will be experimenting and inquiring about ideas and concepts, analyzing and synthesizing, as well as, evaluating, during these times of instruction an indirect and inquiry based method may be the most effective approach to instruction. As I create lessons and gain experience in the classroom with students, I will learn, reflect, and refine on the best methods to use for the specific outcomes and goals I have for students and a lesson.
The direct method of instruction is very formulaic, and its success as an instructional method depends on a teacher centered approach, where the teacher is actively teaching. Direct instruction takes place with whole class participation. There are six basic steps prescribed for direct instruction. The first step is daily review; this step involves checking for understanding from the previous day’s lesson. This step will also involve any re-teaching of concepts and knowledge students may have missed from the previous lessons. Ensuring students have a complete understanding of previous work is really important to ensuring student success. This is especially true with subjects and content that is sequential and builds on each other. The second step is presenting and structuring; in this step new material and concepts are presented to students. An important part of presenting and structuring is to ensure that lessons are presented in small portions; you do not want to overload your students with information. Direct instruction is very organized and sequential. The new information should build on previous knowledge and skills. The third step is guided students practice; this third step allows students to explore the material in a structured, organized, and guided manner. Guided practice is teacher directed, where the teacher will prompt students to perform a specific behavior. The four types of prompts that Borich presents in his texts are: verbal, gestural, physical, and full-class. Each type of prompt can be used in specific situations depending on the desired behavior of the students.
The fourth step to direct instruction is modeling; modeling is another form of guided practice. During this step students imitate based on a demonstration or infer from observation the behavior that they are learning. Borich presents four psychological processes the students need in order to benefit from modeling. They need to pay attention to the presentation, retain the information from the demonstration, be able to reproduce the teacher’s demonstration, and finally students need to experience motivation, when they produce a desirable outcome it needs to be recognized, this often occurs as teacher praise. The fifth step is feedback and correctives; during this step the teacher provides feedback and helps correct students answers and behaviors. This step is very important to students overall success in a lesson. This step also allows for immediate assessment and feedback on students understanding of the concept and information being presented. During this step teachers can plan to re-teach specific parts of the lesson to increase student overall understanding. Or likewise, determine that students are ready to move on to the next step. The sixth and final step of direct instruction is independent practice; during this step students practice independently, with the desire of students form action sequences out of the facts and rules they have learned during the lesson. During independent practice the facts and information can become meaningful concepts. These are the six steps Borich presents that should comprise a lesson using the direct method of instruction.
Indirect instruction is less prescribed then direct instruction. Indirect instructional methods are described as student centered approaches to instruction, and often involve inquiry and experimentation to construct knowledge. As a science teacher, inquiry and experimentation will be an influential part of my instructional practices, as I use indirect approaches to guide students to construct and discover knowledge. Borich presents seven examples of indirect instructional strategies, they are: content organization, conceptual movement, examples and nonexamples, questions, learner experiences, student self-evaluation, and discussions. I can see myself using each and every one of these indirect strategies in my science classes. There are a few examples that for the purposes of science, I think may be implemented into instruction more than others. These are learner experiences, questions, and discussion. As a science student myself, I found that I took the most away from lessons, ones that involved researching and discovering processes and information based on questions, experimentation (my experiences as a learner), and discussions with my classmates, guided and supervised by my teacher.
During my career as a teacher, I am sure that I will explore the implementation of all of the strategies I presented for both direct and indirect instructional methods. I think that reflection is a key part of becoming and staying an effective teacher. I will reflect on my lessons daily and refine my practices, strategies, and pedagogy. During student teaching the process of reflection will be instrumental in my growth and development, and I will strive to be the most effective teacher possible from day one, valuing both feedback from my mentor teacher and supervisor, as well as, personal reflection.