Monday, February 19, 2007

Blogging Frenzy

I have to admit, I am taking a small part of satisfaction at the blogging frenzy that I had a small part in starting off.

Dennis asked me if I knew of any teachers who had implemented DI.

It must of started him wondering, because he decided to ask his readers about it.

As I indicated earlier, it is hard to find anyone who is more critical of American education than KDerosa, and much of his criticism is centered around his belief that we are using the wrong teaching methods, especially at the elementary level. I would love to hear from any elementary school teachers who know more about Direct Instruction than I do. I'd especially like to hear from teachers who have used Direct Instruction after using other methods. I would also love to hear from teachers or administrators who know why so few elementary schools use this method. It is a mystery to me why I've heard so much about Direct Instruction from parents, like KDerosa and Rory, and so little about it from teachers.
After that it snowballed. Joanne wonders about the same thing as Dennis.

RedKudu notes that the education system is biased against DI. (I just discovered RedKudu, but it is an excellent blog).

This is how I was taught I should be suspicious of direct instruction styles, and why I believe many teachers may not be aware of what direct instruction is, especially if they're getting the same information I did. The teacher-centered classroom, I was told, is also sometimes called "direct instruction." Did the presenter have a grudge or some bias? Probably. Was the info misused, or misinterpreted at the meeting I attended? Possibly. But the school latched onto it, we were told to latch onto it, and two schools later, three grades higher, we're still being told this is the way to go even as grades slump, kids drop out, and the minimum skills expectations are lowered every year to make up for the achievement gap.
Liz over at I Speak of Dreams also wonders about DI.

Meanwhile, in the comments of Dennis and Joanne's original posts, debates take place, questions are asked, and everyone comes out a little bit smarter.

Some highlights from the Trenches:

The Guru KEdRosa says: "Here's my theory. The powers that be in education and schools of education are in ignore mode when it comes to DI. At first they tried criticising it and that didn't work so well because it has a large research base with thousands of students showing that it does work better than what the ed schools were peddling. So now they're resigned to just pretending it doesn't exist."

Amen Brother!

ElementaryHistoryTeacher notes that teachers secretly use "di" without permission.

Dennis starts to get pissed off: "After having done the work to earn a Masters a few years ago, and never hearing about Direct Instruction once during that process, while having some other stuff thrown at me that was pure crap, this makes me a little angry."

Ms. BlueBird notes the obvious: "So, if I'm to understand this correctly, for DI to work the class must be at the same level. Yet at the same time, ability grouping is frowned upon big time."

Ms Teacher from California Live Wire, finally acknowledges she is ultimately responsible for everything, and updates her readers on her experiences with DI.

Like a typical teacher she bemoans that it takes away from her creativity, but acknowledges:
So, overall I've been impressed with the growth I've seen in most of my students. Like I said before, some of them used to hate to read and now, they enjoy it. They understand what they are reading and are able to apply it. Much of my criticism has nothing to do with the program itself; rather it has to do with my District's reluctance to do what they promised to do.
Mean while over at Joannes:

Winston Smith says that his students are begging for explicit instruction.

Anna sums up the argument nicely.
I have used Reading Mastery, Engelman’s DI program for teaching reading. At first I did not like it because I did not enjoy teaching from a script. I became a convert when I saw how effectively it taught students how to read. I think sometimes we forget that things which are boring for teachers are exciting for little kids. It would have been more fun for me to work with storybooks and whole language, no question, but I had to remember that the lesson aim wasn’t to entertain me as a teacher — it was to teach students how to read.
Anna... if you read this... start blogging.

Larry Strauss thinks teachers should see themselves as artists. (Funny me. I thought teachers wanted to be considered professionals.)

Dave is all up on Larry Strauss and spouts the usual gobbly gook, and then manages to do the Vulcan mind meld on DI and Discovery Learning.
If DI includes all of rhese components and allows children to explore at times and tackle unstructured open-ended questions for which there is no clear blueprint for solution, then I applaud DI and I guess I’ve been using it all along. If ‘Discovery Learning’ includes all of these components, then I guess I’ve been using it all along and I applaud that too.
Larry seems to get a bit mixed up about what DI really is, but luckily Ken sets him straight.

Larry thanks Ken and asks some questions. Kens answers them.

Coincidentally, this blogosphere conversation happens at the same time as Zig Englemann releases the 5th chapter of his book on Project Follow Through. Zig describes how despite evidence to the contrary, the education establishment does everything in its power to maintain the status quo and repress DI. See D-EdReckoning for a review and summary.

Crossposted at my KTM II.