The Importance of Explicit Reading Instruction
Dr. Anita Archer
Release Date: February 10, 2021
Explicit reading instruction is an approach to teaching reading that is based on research about the brain and how we learn, combined with structured and sequenced literacy instruction. Join explicit instruction expert Dr. Anita Archer for this informative podcast as she discusses the importance of explicit instruction and how it promotes achievement for students of all reading levels.
During this podcast, we will discuss:
- What explicit instruction is and how it works hand in hand with systematic reading instruction
- How explicit instruction benefits students with reading challenges
- How to use explicit reading instruction to deliver more effective lessons
Anita L. Archer, Ph.D., is the recipient of 10 Outstanding Educator awards, she has taught elementary and middle school students, and has been a faculty member at San Diego State University, the University of Washington, and the University of Oregon. Currently, she serves as an educational consultant to school districts on effective instruction, classroom management, language arts instruction, and study skills strategies. She is a nationally known presenter and has authored numerous curriculum materials, chapters, books, and training resources. Among her works are the acclaimed REWARDS® reading program and The Tough Kid® video series.
The REWARDS family is a powerful research-based, short-term, and specialized program for adolescent students in grades 4–12 who struggle reading long, multisyllabic words and comprehending content-area text. With explicit, systemic, teacher-led instruction, this intervention gives students new skills to unlock grade-level content-area text.
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Narrator: Welcome to EDVIEW360.
Anita Archer: Here's 50 years of research on the components of explicit instruction and the overall look at explicit instruction and its related instructional pedagogies, such as direct instruction and mastery learning, and consistently the results are high for the components and the totality in terms of student learning. So, it matters. It matters because it works. It matters because it makes a difference. It matters because it creates equity, opportunities for all students to learn at their highest level.
Narrator: You just heard Dr. Anita Archer. Dr. Archer is a renowned literacy expert and author of the REWARDS® intervention solution. Dr. Archer is our guest today on EDVIEW360.
Pam Austin: This is Pam Austin. Welcome back to the EDVIEW360 podcast series. We are so excited to have you back with us. I'm conducting today's podcast from my native New Orleans, channeling the heart of Voyager Sopris Learning® in Dallas, TX. Today, we are honored to have with us literacy expert Dr. Anita Archer. Hello Dr. Archer.
AA: I'm so glad to be with you.
PA: Oh, welcome. We are so happy to have you here today. You are very accomplished and most definitely a literacy expert. Would you tell us a little bit about your background and how you became involved with education?
AA: Now, the fact that I'm almost 74 years old is a long history. So, probably I became interested in teaching as a child. My family moved to seven different communities before I was 18 and lived in 14 different houses, and that meant many, many schools. My sort of sanctuary in my life was school, and I adored my teachers. So, I already had my eye on it. And, then, I grew up in the state of Washington and I did what every good Deasy child did, that was my maiden name, is that you go to University of Washington and you be a very good husky.
And, while I was an undergraduate, I was a research assistant to Tom Lovett, a beloved researcher in education and in special education. And, of course, that made me even more interested. So, when I graduated, I got my Master's there, before I started teaching. And, you know, life is full of opportunities. And I had an opportunity at 26 to be an acting assistant professor at University of Washington upon the death of a professor there. So, I got an early start in teaching teachers, went on to not only teach there and get my doctorate at University of Washington, but go to University of Oregon, go Ducks!, and then, to San Diego State University.
And, then, after teaching in universities for many years, I then chose to spend my time writing curriculum materials, like REWARDS for Voyager Sopris Learning®, as well as other materials and consulting. So, I spent the last, oh my goodness, 30 years consulting in education. So, I've had a long history and a career that I have adored. And, particularly, the time spent on the topic you chose for this podcast, Pamela, which is explicit instruction.
PA: Oh, what a long and varied history. And it sounds like it all just sings to your heart, Dr. Archer.
AA: Absolutely. It is the best profession that all of us could be in. It makes the most difference in our world and children deserve the very best education possible. And all the people, the participants who are listening to this, learning is also their dedication.
PA: I agree with you 100 percent. Well, Dr. Archer, you’ve written a book focused on explicit instruction titled, Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching, along with Charles Hughes. And you have also embedded explicit strategies into your intervention curriculum. I know all about that because I've taught them myself. You created curriculum such as REWARDS and REWARDS® Plus, and have modeled what explicit instruction looks like within the curriculum itself. You’ve also done this in classrooms, in presentations that I've seen you do that as well. Please share your definition of explicit instruction and why explicit instruction matters in education.
AA: Well, first of all, the definition is sort of hidden in the book that I wrote with Charles Hughes, Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching, but here's some words that I think really help us understand it. That it is very direct. The teacher has looked at what the students need to learn, the teacher presents it very directly to students, so it is unambiguous. In other words, the students will get it. It is not a discovery approach. It is a very, very direct approach. And what does it matter? It matters because it works.
There's 50 years of research on the components of explicit instruction and the overall look at explicit instruction, and its related instructional pedagogies, such as direct instruction and mastery learning. And, consistently, the results are high for the components and the totality in terms of student learning. So, it matters. It matters because it works. It matters because it makes a difference. It matters because it creates equity, opportunities for all students to learn at their highest level.
PA: Oh, wonderful. I just love that definition. I've got so involved with listening and I'm taking notes Dr. Archer. Words it's like direct and it matters and the idea of creating equity, not discovery, but giving that direct explicit instruction so that students will understand and really get it for lack of a better way of saying it.
AA: A beautiful summary, Pamela.
PA: So, your book details 16 elements of explicit instruction according to researchers that are then condensed into six principles of effective instruction, give us a summary of what these are and the impact to teaching and learning.
AA: So, Pamela, for you and our participants, they will recognize these because as a part of their teacher education, I hope that they were introduced to these very critical elements of instruction. We often divide them up into four categories. First one is the content we teach. It matters. Do we teach critical content useful in the moment and useful in the future? Do we teach content that is broken down into obtainable pieces? Now, this one is absolutely critical for our students, that they need to be able to be successful at each part and so we break it down, so that they can gain it. So, the content is critical and broken down into obtainable pieces and also sequenced in a systematic manner. And, then, most of the attention of explicit instruction after the content is on design of instruction and delivery. So, what does research tell us about the design of instruction?
Well, it tells us that those teachers who I often refer to as teachers with value added, they consistently get high performance from their students that they have focused and organized lessons, and embedded in those lessons they tell students the goal of the lesson. One of the highest effect sizes in (John) Hattie's research is having the students know the goal of the lesson and reiterating it throughout the lesson. And we also have known that the importance of review. Review of what we have learned in past lessons that is necessary for today's lesson. Review of pre-skills that are needed for this lesson, and a review that is interactive, where the students have to participate, not just to recap, but they have to participate. And, then, we also know that the lesson would include demonstration and guided practice and checking for understanding.
What I have taken, way back when I wrote a chapter in a book in 1974, took those terms, which were from Madeline Hunter's work. Demonstration. Guided practice. Checking for Understanding and called it: I do, which is demonstration. We do, guided practice. And, Checking for Understanding, which is You do. So, those are the things that we particularly focus on in design. Design of lessons that teachers would do for their classroom, design of curriculum materials, that sequence is found. For example, through REWARDS, when we introduce something new, we use each of those steps, organize and focus lessons, telling the students the goal, having review of what is necessary for today's lesson, and then I do it, we do it, you do it.
So, delivery, delivery is absolutely paramount. If you want students to be engaged, you better deliver it in a way that they are attentive. So, you get responses from them. In fact, opportunities to respond has an effect size of recent studies of 0.79. Oh, wow. That is really, really, really critical, that they say things, write things, do things. And we listen to their responses, we look at their responses, we monitor them, and we give them feedback, both affirmative, praise, as well as informative, corrections. And, we maintain a brisk pace.
It doesn't matter if I'm teaching kindergarten or I'm teaching high school or I am teaching college, I would say that I am going to get frequent responses, monitor the responses, give you feedback, and have a brisk pace. Then, the last element is practice. In fact, look at all the books that have been recently written about practice or online sites like retrievalpractice.org you should visit that talk about practice. Deliberate practice. Practice that is based over time. And, practice that requires retrieval. So, that is sort of a mini moment summarizing quite a complex body of knowledge that we have put under the umbrella of explicit instruction.
PA: Yes, very well said, Dr. Archer. Thank you for sharing. I've got a feeling we may be pausing and rewinding and listening to all of those details, all of our listening audience out there. You used the term drill and kill, and I've heard you convert that into drill and skill.
AA: Right, Pamela. Yes.
AA: That is the reality that students need an adequate amount of practice. I'll just tell you, I recently had someone ask me after I taught in a presentation, the strategy that Mary Gleason and Vicky Vachon and myself infused into REWARDS for reading long words. Which is if you don't know the word, the old strategy: Circle the prefix, circle the suffix, underline the vowels, say the part, say it fast, make it a real word. And, someone came up and said, "I'm going to teach that tomorrow." As if it was a done deal tomorrow. No.
In REWARDS, we have hundreds of words of practice. Hundreds of words of practice in order to get automatic at looking at and breaking down the word into parts using prefix and suffix and vowels, saying the parts and making it a real word. So, we need to remember that if we have an intellectual skill that needs to be automatic, then we need practice, practice, practice.
PA: Practice, practice, practice. Yes. Changing that overt skill into a covert skill as we see in REWARDS.
AA: That's right.
PA: Yes. So, what population of students benefit from explicit instruction?
AA: OK, now that is probably the most critical question you could've asked me, Pamela, because what I see is that people don't really understand when explicit instruction is most needed. So, let me just give you the variables from research. First of all, it's not like one population. All of us need explicit instruction under certain circumstances. And, if we want effective and efficient teaching, one of those circumstances is you have no background knowledge. If you don't have background knowledge, thus nothing to connect it to in permanent memory, you really profit from explicit instruction. And, it doesn't matter the domain.
For example, we have kindergarten teachers listening and when they come with no letter-sound associations, no background knowledge, you must teach them explicitly. We have third graders who are learning how to write a descriptive paragraph. And, yet, they do not know what a paragraph is or the structure of a paragraph or the importance of topic and details in a paragraph.
They would profit from explicit instruction, but then we pop up to high school and we're introducing the organization of the periodic chart. It's more efficient for someone to tell you how it's organized and then have you study it so that you get it down than to wait for you to discover it because you don't even know the attributes on which it could be organized. I had an experience this pandemic, where I was reminded about how useful it is to have explicit instruction. Because when I turned 60, I started cello lessons and I used to even travel with the cello, but it was burdensome with two suitcases at a cello. And, so, I quit playing for a number of years, not a good thing, but the pandemic, I'm here at home more days than I've been home in 20 years. And, so, OK, I'm going to learn cello and I'm going to get a teacher.
You know, there's things that I never would have discovered without a teacher. For example, how to hold the bow in a most relaxed position. How to determine where you should put your bow on the strings and the amount of pressure. I would not have known the specific notes as it related to the fingerings. I needed instruction. No background knowledge.
AA: Number two: Anybody who is a novice, meaning that they are not an expert, the cognitive research shows that these people that are novices in a domain think differently than experts. And, that if you are a novice, you need it broken down, presented systematically, and if it's new material in any class. So, a student enters and they know nothing about World War II in a social studies class. They would benefit from some very explicit background knowledge.
And, now, here's where the company that you're connected with, it makes a really big difference. And that is Voyager Sopris Learning publishes some of the very best intervention materials for students that are struggling in an area. And that is another population that really benefits from explicit instruction. They're unlikely to discover the information, or they might discover it with misconceptions, and they need very explicit instruction.
So, basically, it's not a population. It’s the relationship of the population to the domain that you're teaching. If the students have no background knowledge, explicit instruction. If they are novices, explicit instruction. If it's new material that they'd never had, explicit instruction. If they have difficulty obtaining it, explicit instruction. Now, is there a place for discovery activities? As both Dylan William in his work and John Hattie concluded in his work, first you teach knowledge and when the students have a bank of knowledge, then they can do problem-based instruction. They can do other kinds, types of discovery, but first we have to empower them.
PA: I love that. First, we have to empower them. So, every human being alive needs explicit instruction in some way, shape, or form, based on these factors. No background knowledge, a novice. Maybe the material is new or difficult or challenging or maybe a student has a particular skill deficit. Did that sum it up?
AA: That sums it up. A beautiful job.
PA: Thank you. Thank you. I think it's always good to go back and recap, Dr. Archer. We're learning so much. I do have another question for you. How does explicit instruction work hand in hand with Structured Literacy? We're hearing so much about Structured Literacy, how does that work hand in hand?
AA: OK, so Structured Literacy and you who are participants, you might want to go to the International Dyslexia Association® website, and they have a good primer on Structured Literacy. Now, here's the big difference between the umbrella of Structured Literacy and explicit instruction. Explicit instruction is how to teach. Structured Literacy is two components: What to teach in the area of reading, and how to teach. So, it includes explicit instruction. So, let's just look at structured learning, because you're right, Pamela, we're hearing a lot about it. And, so, it is looking directly at the science of reading and what should we teach if we want students to emerge as students who are accurate and fluent with good comprehension. And, so, it includes these elements: Phonology, do they hear? Are they able to manipulate sounds within words and sound-symbol relationships?
I mean, we have a code and the code requires that we know these sounds for letters or graphemes. And that they are able to sound out syllables. Do they mention closed syllables, open syllables, words that have a vowel final E syllables, words that are controlled syllables, words that end in LE, that they could read single syllables and incorporate those into multisyllabic words. And, morphology, prefixes, and suffixes, that they would also introduce syntax and semantics, the meanings of what you've read. So, they outline the areas of instruction for a program for reading, which you might've noticed, Pam, since you've taught REWARDS and REWARDS Plus that these are elements that are infused into our program.
PA: Most definitely.
AA: And, then, they look at the how. Now, the how, remember, when I talked about explicit instruction being content, delivery, design, and practice? Well, those are the elements exactly that they include under their how. So, the big difference is explicit instruction tells how, and structured learning tells what and how.
PA: Great, that's a wonderful answer. And it really clarified the difference between the two and exactly how they rely on each other. They do go hand in hand, that's for sure.
PA: To provide educators with a more explicit picture, please detail the attributes of an explicit lesson. I think we've got a bit of a clue, but I'd like you to be very precise with that, Dr. Archer.
AA: We do have a clue because we have those elements that we listed under content, delivery, design, and practice, but we often look at it this way. When we were writing the book on explicit instruction, we read every article we could find about the design of individual lessons. And it was very fascinating because we found like the six-step lesson plan in one article and the 28-step lesson plan in another article. But they had some consistencies. They had an opening. They had a body. They had a closing. I will tell you, when I’ve observed lessons, the part that's most often missing is actually a closing. Many just sort of end their lesson with, “Gasp...Well, put your materials away. Line up. We're out of here.” And, let me tell you, charging the door is not a closing. So, in the opening though, we broke it down this way, to make it memorable: Attention. Review. Preview. Attention. Review. Preview.
So, I get your attention. I do a review of critical aspects necessary for today's lesson. And, I have a preview which tells you the goal that we are aimed at for learning in this lesson. Attention. Review. Preview. Then, in the body of the lesson, that's where the parts of I do it, We do it, You do it, become evident. Now, they may not be in the body of every lesson, because if it's really complex, that's going to be spread out over time. I might demonstrate a strategy and provide some We do it. Then, the next day, go to We do it and gradually fade it. The next day, even more faded, We do it before A few do it. So, the body differs by domain, and it differs by where are we in that cycle of teaching.
And, then, we have closure. Please add even just a few minutes of formal closure to a lesson. More learning occurs. More appropriate behavior occurs. And, so, we identified it as these steps: Review. Preview. Independent work. Review. Preview, Independent work. And, so, we review the big ideas of this lesson in short form, but interactively getting responses from the students. Then, we have a preview. What are we going to do tomorrow? Kids like to know that we have thoughtfulness. So, what are we doing tomorrow? And, then, assigning them independent work. And, if we followed that, think of how much learning we would have, in our country, in other countries, and our schools, other schools. Opening body pose: Attention. Review. Preview. Closing: Review. Preview. Independent work.
PA: Yes. Yeah. So, that valuable information, that consistency for students, because here that these attributes just detail a structure for when you fill in that teaching and learning, Dr. Archer, that's what's most amazing here. We've got that structure that makes sense for students.
AA: But you just pointed out, all of this has to do with sort of the biggest idea of my career is how well you teach equals how well they learn. And it is that teaching, learning connection that everything we do is attached to. So, the design of our lessons, the big elements of explicit instruction, all of that game. What can we do in teaching that is likely to most effectively and efficiently bring about learning?
PA: Right. And that learning will lead to independent practice, right? Which includes our next question here. Dr. Archer, how do we support students as they transition from that explicit instruction to that independent practice?
AA: This goes for anything that I would teach you, but let's just take the example of the REWARDS Strategy in REWARDS. It teaches students an overt strategy for figuring out the pronunciation of words, and the steps in the strategy are: Look at the word. Circle the prefix. Circle the suffix. Underline the vowels. That puts the word into decodable chunks. Then, say the parts of the word. Say the whole word. Make it a real word. Now, here's what we would do with that strategy, because you're really talking here about gradual release of responsibility, right, Pam?
AA: OK. So, first of all, we look at that and say, "Wow, there are a lot of preskills that are needed for that strategy. You have to know to identify and pronounce prefixes. You have to know and pronounce suffixes. You have to know what letters represent vowel sounds and be able to pronounce them accurately.” So, in REWARDS, we had to teach many lessons to get the preskills in place before we introduced the strategy. And, then, we used, I do it, meaning that: I do it. We do it. You do it. So, we first modeled it. And, so, just picture in front of you, the word prevention, and so I say to the students, "My turn to show you the strategy."
First, I circle the prefix. So, I'm going to pick up my pen and do it as we talk. I circle pre. Next, I circled the suffix and the suffix is tion, yes. Next, I underline the vowel sound, which is /a/. Next, we say the parts in the word, and I loop under the parts and they say, prevention. Next, we say the whole word and make it a real word, prevention. So, I am modeling it for them, but obviously we would need to have that gradual release of responsibility. So, then we do guided practice. So, I want you on your paper in front of you, Pamela, to write down unpredictable. Now, I never would say the word first what I'm teaching kids, because why figure it out if you've already said it? Hope you've written it down.
PA: Yes, I've got it.
AA: Participants who are listening, you can do this too. OK. So, Pam, first we circle the prefixes. Does this word have a prefix?
AA: Yes. And the prefix is?
AA: Circle it. Does it have another prefix?
AA: And that prefix is?
AA: Circle it. Does the word have a suffix?
AA: And that suffix is?
AA: And you pronounce it able, say it three times.
PA: Able, able.
AA: Excellent job. Next, we underline the vowel sounds and underline the letter I, what sound?
AA: Excellent. Now let's say the parts, go back to the beginning and the teacher would loop under it. And first part?
AA: Next part.
AA: Next part.
AA: Next part.
AA: Good. Say the whole word.
AA: Excellent. So, here, I'm setting her up for success. I'm not going from, I modeled it once, now you do it. No, this is heavily guided. And, then, we want to fade some more. I'm so glad you asked this question because people really need a concrete example for a gradual release of responsibility. So, we would go to ones where the students would have to figure it out. So, we would say, here's an the next word, and it’s on my sheet. I have refreshments, but of course, I wouldn't say the word again. I would say now it's your turn to figure this out. So, I want you to circle the prefixes, circle the suffixes, and underline the vowel. So, the students would, on their own, circle re; circle s and ment; and underline the letter E in refreshments.
Then, I would say, now I would just give them feedback. They'd see what was circled, and I’d say, “Now, let's read it by part.” So, again, I'll loop under the word and say, “What part? Re? What part? Fresh? What part? Men? What part? Ents? And, the word is refreshments, but you see, I shifted some of the responsibility to the students. Now, they had to circle and underline, but I'm still guiding them by looping through the word and with that, then we could even fade it more. OK. You see that this is really important with students with difficulties that I'm doing this very systematically over many days. Then, we would have the least amount of assistance, just a hint to them. So, I want you to look at this word and look for the prefixes. Look for the suffixes and the vowel. And, figure out the word.
PA: So, just a reminder?
AA: A reminder, right. Then, they figure it out. They put their thumb up to indicate they have it. They whisper to their partner and they say reorganize. And, then, we get to the point where it’s a you do it. Look at the word, and the word I have in front of me is dissatisfaction. Now, look at the word. Figure out how to say it. Put your thumb up when you're done. Whisper to your partner. Now, say it, dissatisfaction, but that's not enough.
We've got to go further because they can now read words that are in a list, but now we go to the total application. That's where your question came in, where they would read multisyllabic words, and a word like dissatisfaction, and that's a major accomplishment and it would be embedded within sentences or within passages. But, notice how systematic this is over time, with the kids being successful with the preskills. Successful when I modeled it with I do it. Successful with a really heavy supported, We do it. Gradually faded out to You do it. Then applied. Boy, that is the kind of path you need often like writing a paragraph, a path like that would be excellent for that or many things that are complex. Gradual release of responsibility to the students.
PA: Gradual release of responsibility. I just love it. Quite often we think about the end goal and rush to that end goal and then students struggle. This is just a perfect example or a model of what we should do when we are introducing those complex skills for students and we’re expecting them to be independent from the get-go and that might not be where students are. Sometimes, we commit something that I call a suicide.
AA: Right. The term I often use where we just assume too much, but it also goes with the recent research done in cognitive science about motivation. We used to think that we needed some exciting activity to capture the students' motivation. Yet, when it's been examined carefully, it appears that success is the precursor to motivation. That I have to be set up for success. Then, I also have to see the value of what we're doing, and that leads me to putting more effort into it, more time into it, more attention to it, more engagement to it, and, thus, motivation. So, we used to think that motivation came first. We now know that success and your understanding the value of something leads to motivation. So, you see that those step-by-step steps that we went through, set you up for success and more success and more success and more success you've been seeing. And, then, you're just like thrilled when you can read dissatisfaction and probably you actually have satisfaction.
PA: Definitely. Success builds success, right?
PA: And, so, you're also building stamina and you're building skills.
AA: Well, for example, reading long words requires, if you're going to read for good comprehension, requires automaticity so that you get to the point where, yes, you could apply that strategy to unfamiliar words. But, now, you have more and more words that are ones that you recognize immediately as sight words, which is the foundation for fluency. So, it is automaticity that for so many foundation skills that we're looking for.
PA: All right. Thank you, Dr. Archer, that was very good detailed response to that question. I have another one for you. This one should be fun. We're nearing the end of our podcast, I'd like for you to provide us with a brief oral model of what explicit instruction sounds like. Please engage with me using the word, engage. I'll be your student and I will just respond based on this interaction.
AA: So, Pam, it was sweet of you to send me that one question at the end, because you actually asked me to teach the word engagement.
PA: Yes, I did.
AA: So, the first thing, this is the thing about explicit instruction. It requires thinking, planning, and organizing. So, I had to think about this. We can't just hip pocket in good instruction. It really requires being very careful. Being organized and focused is one of the attributes of explicit instruction. So, I looked at this and said engagement. All right, engagement has a family of words, engage as a verb, engaged as a verb, engaging as an adjective, engaged as an adjective, and engagement, a noun. One of the things I always tell teachers is pick either the easiest member of the family of words to teach. For example, one day I was to teach second graders the word, piteously, and that's very difficult to teach, but what I need to teach is the word pity.
So, I said, OK, either teach the easiest or teach the base word. And, so, if I was teaching this to you, I would teach engage. Now, engage actually, like many words in English, has many meanings. So, I'm going to just teach you one meaning, but explicit instruction also requires that teachers adopt routines, instructional routines, so that when you're introducing items that you have the steps in mind that you're going to use for it. And, so, when we teach vocabulary, we have a routine where we introduced the pronunciation, we introduce the meaning, we illustrate with examples, and check for understanding. So, I had fun with this because literally last night, I said, "OK, how could we make this a great conclusion to this podcast? At the same time, illustrate these points." All right, so you are my student. OK?
AA: And, so, Pam, the word that we're learning today, and I would show it visually is the word, engage. What word?
AA: So, put your hand on your table, and we're going to tap out the parts in engage, say it as we tap, first part.
AA: Engage, right? Engage is a verb, an action. And if it is happening right now, we engage you. If it was in the past, I engaged you. Engaged, say the past tense word.
AA: Excellent. So, what does engage mean?
Well, here is it broken down.
Engage means to catch and keep someone's interest and attention. To catch and keep someone's interest and attention. Can you say that with me, they would be reading it on a screen, to catch-
PA: To catch-
AA: And to keep-
PA: ...and to keep-
PA: ...and attention.
AA: Right. So, when I engaged you, Pam, I captured your attention and your interest and your, what?
PA: And my interest.
AA: And your interest. So, when I engage you, I capture your attention-
AA: And your?
AA: Excellent job. So, I introduced the meaning of the word. And, then, I illustrated with some examples. Now, here comes the quick review of everything we've covered. So, Pam, I engage you in a lesson by teaching critical content explicitly, by providing clear demonstrations and explanations, by guiding your initial attempts. Notice I'm just throwing in here a little review of explicit instruction. I request frequent responses, I use a brisk pace, I provide affirmative and informative feedback, ensuring that you experienced success, and I engage you by maintaining a positive teacher-student relationship. I engage you by being kind, being kind, being kind. That's sort of a summary of how I engage you in explicit instruction. Then, I want to ask questions to check your understanding, and so remember to engage is to catch and keep someone's interest and attention.
I might ask a question like, what is one thing you can do to engage students in a lesson? And, I always supply students with a sentence stem so that they'll use the word engage and have a complete sentence. So, listen carefully. One thing I can do to engage students in a lesson is to, now, I want you to say that to yourself participants, we're going to give you a moment before I have, Pam, think of one thing I can do to engage students in a lesson is to? OK, Pamela, starting with one thing I can do to engage students in the lesson is to?
PA: One thing I can do to engage students in a lesson is to: Request the choral response.
AA: Excellent job, getting many responses would make a huge difference. So, I introduced the pronunciation of the word, introduced the meaning, I gave you lots of examples, a little bit artificial, because I just wanted a chance to review what we covered in this podcast, and then I asked questions to check your understanding. But, in this case, the word you sent me was, engagement. So, then, one of the fastest ways to expand vocabulary is to introduce the relatives of the word, which we do in all the programs I've written. So, I put up on the screen, engage, engaged, engaging, engaged as an adjective, engagement as a noun, and, then, introduce it in a paragraph.
And, so, you don't see it, but it's in front of me: Ms. Smith uses the tools of explicit instruction to engage her students, because of the brisk pace, the students are engaged, the engaging activities, and active participation maintain their attention. The outcome of engagement is learning. Let me repeat that last sentence, because that's sort of the message of this podcast. The outcome of engagement is learning. The outcome of explicit instruction is learning. All right. So, thank you for sending me that question, because again, you made me think and how would we put this into what we know about explicit instruction.
PA: Perfectly done. Thank you so much for that example, that model, Dr. Archer, really appreciate that. You made it lively and interactive. And, I had to tell you I was 100 percent engaged.
AA: Thank you, Pam.
PA: Finally, if you could wave a magic wand and change anything in the world of education, what would you change and why?
AA: Wow, can I have more than one magic wand?
PA: Oh, well, you know what? I will give you free license.
AA: OK. First, magic wand on our students. May students present and in the future be taught so well that they are able to achieve at their highest ability level. On teachers who I adore, I have been blessed to work with teachers all these years, may you have the best knowledge about the science of reading, if you teach it, of the science of writing, if you teach it, the science of instruction and, specifically, explicit instruction. So that every day you get the joy of students learning and you see their growth, which is the best payment for being a great teacher.
And, I'm going to wave a big, big wish on our administrators: May you be first and foremost, instructional leaders. There're so much you have to do in the school, but what makes the difference is the quality of instruction. And, then, I'm going to wave across the United States, over our colleges of education: May you teach teachers who teach children what they need to know to be a very effective teacher, and may you teach them what they need to know so that they are a very effective manager. And may you teach these to a level of automaticity so that when a new teacher enters a classroom, they know how to teach and how to manage to the benefit of all of the children. This is, if we look at what are we going to do about equity across groups in our country, it is the quality of education, and it starts with the college of education.
PA: Wow. The quality of education, teaching and learning is what it boils down to, isn't it, Dr. Archer?
AA: It is, absolutely. Not that it's easy, it's hard work, but it's rewarding work. It is hard work, but children profit from it. We forget that we have such an influence on their whole entire life by how well we teach equals how well they learn.
PA: Yes. Yes. So, thank you so much for joining us today, Dr. Archer. It's been a pleasure speaking with you. Please tell our listeners how they can learn more about you, how they can follow you on social media, as well.
AA: First of all, I have to confess, I'm not a big social media person. I have so much in my life, so many things to do that I would never be checking that out, but you could watch me teach children at the website of explicitinstruction.org, and that is the best I can offer, except if you go on YouTube, you're going to find many, many webinars. Ones that I've done for Voyager Sopris but also many other agencies that would add to what we've covered in this podcast.
PA: Thank you so much, Dr. Archer. This is Pam Austin, bringing the best thought leaders in education directly to you.
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