Explicit Instruction

Direct Instruction

UDL 3.3 UDL 5.3 UDL 6.1 UDL 6.3

Explicit Instruction is an instructional approach that involves teaching a specific skill or concept using several systematic steps to support students with learning new content or mastering previously taught concepts. When delivering Explicit Instruction, lessons are organized around critical content, complex skills are broken into smaller parts, and instructional routines (e.g., Check for Understanding, Turn and Talk) are used to ensure that students remain engaged. The teacher begins Explicit Instruction by stating the learning goals and connecting them to prior learning. The teacher then highlights important details of the concept or skill, models key processes with clear instructions, and gives opportunities for students to engage in guided and independent practice while providing feedback. Through structured routines and clearly articulated teaching, Explicit Instruction supports the needs of a variety of learners by reducing misconceptions and promoting skill development.

Implementation Tips

Building Routines
Organize lessons in a predictable manner to provide structure and facilitate student learning. A lesson sequence might include:
1) Opening -- Introduction to lesson, warm-up activity, essential questions to activate background knowledge
2) New content -- Teacher-led instruction and modeling, guided practice
3) Closing routines -- Independent practice, check for understanding/formative assessment, reteaching
Sequencing Skills
Sequence skills, strategies, and concepts in a logical and systematic order. For example, easier skills should be taught before a more challenging skill, prerequisites introduced or reinforced at the beginning of a lesson, and complex skills and strategies should be broken down into smaller steps.
Student Engagement
Elicit student participation frequently throughout instruction and teacher-guided practice. Students can share ideas with partners or in small groups, record written responses (e.g., post-it notes, journal, graphic organizer, mini-whiteboards), or demonstrate their understanding using physical actions (e.g., role -playing, gestures, hand signals). The key is to ensure that students are given multiple opportunities to process and respond to new content being taught.
Guided and Independent Practice
Provide opportunities for students to practice skills with teacher prompting and independently. Practice begins with teacher guidance, where students apply the skill under teacher supervision and the teacher monitors each student’s progress and provides assistance as needed. This is followed by independent practice where students apply the skill through further practice in the classroom or at home. The teacher checks for understanding and reteaches if necessary.
Progress Monitoring and Feedback
Monitor student performance closely. Carefully watch and listen to students’ responses, so that you can provide immediate and corrective feedback. This can be done with quick questioning techniques, by walking around the room and looking at individual student work, or with an interactive whole-class approach like using whiteboards or digital tools for responses.


Routines for Teaching Vocabulary
When introducing new vocabulary, an elementary school teacher starts by stating the word while showing a related image. The teacher then verbally guides students in pronouncing the word (e.g., students repeat after the teacher or clap syllables together). The teacher then explains the word’s meaning while referring to the image and writes a sentence using the word. After defining the word, the teacher checks student understanding by asking questions that require both group and individual responses.
"I Do, We Do, You Do" Routine
In a math class, the teacher uses Explicit Instruction to outline a set procedure and help students learn a process for solving multi-step problems. The teacher ("I do it.") demonstrates the steps with a sample problem. The teacher then encourages students to direct her in applying the steps to solve a new problem ("We do it."). Finally, the students are ready to try for themselves ("You do it.") and complete several practice problems independently while the teacher supports individual students. If the skill is still not mastered, Explicit Instruction is given again, possibly at a future time or with small groups, focusing on the part where the students first fail to understand.
Monitoring Student Understanding
In a Language Arts class small groups are writing an introductory paragraph for an essay. To ensure the groups are meeting expectations, the teacher meets with each group, reviews their progress, answers questions, and provides feedback. If the teacher notices that a number of groups are struggling with a specific topic, such as thesis formation, the group activity is paused, the teacher provides Explicit Instruction and guided practice on thesis development, and group work then continues.
Increasing Student Engagement
When demonstrating how to complete a Punnett square in a biology class, the teacher first models the process while thinking aloud. During guided practice, the teacher engages students by eliciting responses (e.g., calling on individual students, asking for choral responses, etc.) while completing a sample Punnett square with the whole class. Students then use individual whiteboards to draw and fill in Punnett squares, and show their answers when prompted. Based on student responses during guided practice the teacher determines whether whole-group reteaching is necessary or if not, selects a small group of students to work with during independent practice.

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