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Using explicit Instruction in a Variety of Settings

I recently attend a conference where we discussed explicit instruction, specifically as it applies to content learning and writing.  To review, explicit instruction is a four step scaffolded process.  Step one is to provide a clear explanation.  Step two involves the teacher modeling the process.  Step three engages the learners in guided practice with elaborated, corrective feedback, and step four continues the scaffolded practice with independent practice.  Again, this step includes feedback.  Within our discussions of explicit instruction there were some questions as to how to implement explicit instruction in settings that may include one or more of the following scenarios:  multiple levels of learners, classes that include several content areas, both ABE and EL learners, and/or settings in which teachers provide instruction individually.  Please share how you use explicit instruction within the unique setting in which you provide instruction.


Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Jeri -

Thanks for your question about how Explicit Instruction (EI) can be managed in these different class environments.   I'd encourage you to reach out to the LINCS AELL and Reading and Writing communities to get their perspective as well.  From my personal experience, I can address working with learners at multiple levels, in the same class.  I've seen examples, and had successes, with two different approaches, depending on the personalities and mix of abilities in a class.

The first approach is really embedded in EI, in that it starts all learners off from the same point, with steps one and two being whole class activities.  Learners take different paths in steps three and four, depending on how far and fast they proceed through the guided practice.  Learners who move through the initial practice of step three more quickly are provided more advanced questions/learning scenarios, and those who struggle with mastery on the initial practice are provided more hands-on support until they reach a basic proficiency.  This can be supported by the assistance of a co-teacher, volunteers, or a flipped classroom for the more advanced learners.  The more advanced level learners can proceed to step four sooner than their peers, as their need for scaffolded practice decreases.  Struggling learners are given more time to benefit from the scaffolded instruction, and guided practice before they are asked to take on more independent practice. 

This is by no means an easy solution, but I have seen it done successfully when learners are engaged with the content.  The thought of one teacher taking this all on with several different content areas seems unmanageable to me, but I'm sure there are others who have tried, and maybe even been successful with implementing EI in a multi-level, multi-content classroom.  If you are one of these teachers, please share your successes and strategies with us!


Mike Cruse

Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator


Jeri Gue's picture


You are so right in that explicit instruction starts all learners off from the same beginning point, with explanation and modeling done as a whole group activity.  Guided and Independent practice become more diverse and differentiated.

I taught a correctional education classroom that included EFL levels 1, 2, and 3, as well as the first three levels of ESL students.  Sometimes my explicit instruction began as a whole class activity, and other times my EI began with a small group.  I was very fortunate, however, to have two vey capable inmate tutors who were able o provide support to students who were not in my group lesson.  This did take a lot of planning and it was similar to grouping students when implementing STAR reading groups.  As a full time instructor, I also had planning time. 

I would still be interested to hear from those who have multi-level classes and have found creative ways to implement explicit instruction.