My intent here is simply to clarify the differences, so that qualified educators can engage in some professional discussion about the complexities and nuances of their work, without interference from the scarf-wearing, card-carrying supporters on the sidelines.
What is explicit instruction?
Explicit instruction is teacher-directed, carefully planned instruction that focuses on clearly-defined content, goals, skills and/or outcomes. It involves making clear the knowledge and skills that students require in order to approach other learning challenges - the what, the how, and the way in which the skill, strategy or content will be applied to authentic contexts. With regard to literacy, explicit instruction can be found in the teaching of basic skills of reading and writing, including phonics, understanding text structure, vocabulary, sentence fluency, and the multitude of reading strategies that enable students to comprehend and respond to texts. Differentiation occurs at the point of practice.
It is unscripted, but does involve explaining, demonstrating and modelling of content, skills and strategies that can be applied to the practice of other, more complex and authentic tasks.
Teacher agency is key here; teacher knowledge and expertise drives the decision-making. Systems, schools and principals that encourage the use of explicit instruction, clearly have faith in the quality, judgement and expertise of their teachers, and a belief that teachers will ask for the right professional development to meet their needs - and that systems, schools and principals will provide relevant professional learning opportunities.
Stay tuned. Direct Instruction will be outlined in Part 2...