The terms explicit instruction and direct instruction get tossed around a lot. I’m not going to get into the true meaning of direct instruction, which gets complicated (there’s “direct instruction” and Direct Instruction) Another whole blog’s worth of explanation, so I’ll just stick with explicit.
Sometimes the folks in our field use the term explicit instruction to mean that they routinely get the whole class together and explain difficult concepts, as opposed to having students work independently most of the time. Maybe they even teach all day like this in a lecture format with some questions and answers.
Merriam Webster defines explicit as:
fully revealed or expressed without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity : leaving no question as to meaning or intent <explicit instructions>
Yes, there’s a second definition of explicit having more to do with magazines and movies, which I’m definitely not referring to here.
What I’m really interested in is what Anita Archer and Charles Hughes describe in detail in their book called Explicit Instruction. They discuss 16 elements of instruction which I believe constitute a very effective form of teaching, especially when students are learning new skills. It’s the kind of instruction that is provided in Growing Writers in each lesson.
ELEMENTS OF EXPLICIT INSTRUCTION
Element 1: Focus on critical content
Element 2: Sequence skills logically
Element 3: Break down complex skills and strategies into smaller instructional units
Element 4: Design organized and focused lessons
Element 5: Begin each lesson with a clear statement of the lesson’s goals
Element 6: Review prior skills and knowledge before beginning instruction
Element 7: Provide step-by-step demonstrations
Element 8: Use clear and concise language
Element 9: Provide an adequate range of examples and non-examples
Element 10: Provide guided and supported practice
Element 11: Require frequent responses
Element 12: Monitor student performance closely
Element 13: Provide immediate affirmative and corrective feedback
Element 14: Deliver the lesson at a brisk pace
Element 15: Help students organize knowledge
Element 16: Provide distributed and cumulative practice
As you can see, it has little to do with lectures or mini-lessons and is a whole approach to teaching. It sounds dry as you read this list, but believe me, you can inject a whole lot of fun and creativity into this.
You can check into this more here or just try out Growing Writers to see how it works in action!