The Arthur Academy VisionWhat really makes us special?Don Crawford, Ph.D.Executive DirectorMastery Learning Institute
We use Direct Instruction: So what? Direct Instruction curriculum is a continuous staircase leading from beginning Kindergarten to the skills needed in the middle grades. Lessons are designed to be completed in a period. A lesson a day ensures a year’s progress each year. Lessons are structured to develop mastery of skills. Lots of cumulative review ensures students retain what they have learned. Adding only 10% new material in each lesson enables students to be successful throughout. So ALL students learn to read, spell, write and do math at or above grade level expectations.
Direct Instruction is built on some basic learning principles. Over the years, using Direct Instruction taught us these principles. Not just theories, they are built off of the successful experience of hundreds of DI implementations. Here are 10 principles that provide the backdrop for how to design a successful school. These principles are the foundation of the Arthur Academies.
1. Guided, oral practice enablesimmediate and effective corrections —so students learn faster. Practicing more orally BEFORE students write saves a lot of time and allows the teacher to fix errors immediately. Choral, or unison, answering helps the teacher quickly determine if any students are still confused. Students answering on signal lets the teacher hear if some students say the wrong answer—and therefore the class needs more teaching. Quick, individual, oral questions test to see if the class has learned the material.
2. Students learn best at a levelin which they are very successful. Putting students in a level above where they understand what’s going on will result in lack of learning. Students must be at mastery to learn successfully. That means that they already know 90% of what is being covered in a lesson. Direct Instruction teaches everything explicitly so students find it “easy” to learn the 10% new material—especially if they have previously not been taught explicitly. It does not need to be “hard” for students to be learning a great deal.
3. Students learn to decode best in small groups taught by highly proficient teachers. Students must be closely monitored when learning to decode, to be sure they are saying sounds, sounding out and blending correctly. Large group instruction does not allow this careful monitoring in Kindergarten and first grade. Small groups are required in Kindergarten and first grade when students are learning to decode. By second grade, once students can decode, it works better to teach in larger groups. Why?....
4. Students learn best when actively taught by a teacher Most students learn very little by doing school work—if they can do it independently, then they already knew it. To maximize student learning we must maximize the time students spend in front of a teacher, teaching them new information but at their instructional level. Whole class groups provide the maximum time being instructed by the teacher for all students.
5. Improving readingcomprehension requires a teacher spending time teachingvocabulary and world knowledge. Students benefit most from being taught vocabulary actively and directly by a teacher. Students need to be taught world knowledge in order to understand more advanced material. Teachers need to intervene and provide extra instruction when students are not mastering vocabulary. Teachers need to monitor work carefully in reading so as to catch information and vocabulary that students lack—and to provide extra instruction.
6. Students learn best when they are actively engaged. Our curriculum gives teachers a lot of questions to ask of the students. The questions are ones the students can answer (applying things that were just taught). Teachers ask questions of the whole group. Because everyone has to answer, everyone has to be engaged and listening. Students must be actively engaged.
7. Students learn best when they correct their own work. Students see and mark their own errors (in red) very soon after doing the lesson and can learn from their mistakes. We have special correcting pens so students cannot change their answers while correcting their own work. Students are expected to fix every error in blue so they learn everything they didn’t know before. Teachers and the principal check student work to see that it has been corrected and fixed up.
8. Students learn best when they do ALL of the assigned practice work. Every lesson is followed by some independent student work to practice what has been learned. Students are able to do this work and the practice helps them remember what they learned. Teachers and the principal closely monitor how well students do on this work—making sure everyone has mastered the lessons. If any lessons are not completed we assign RACS (Required Assignment Completion Session) after school so students can finish the assignments.
9. Students learn best when they are positively motivated. We expect all of our teachers to use positive praise to motivate our students. We look for a ratio of three times more recognizing good behavior than paying attention to bad behavior. We encourage the use of rewards and other forms of recognition for good behavior and excellent academics. We provide recognition of various forms for high academic performance and good behavior. Only if students ignore positive praise from the teacher do we resort to mild consequences for misbehavior.
10. Students learn best when they are held to high expectations: To be engaged during lessons. To participate fully in all lessons. To answer all questions. To complete all assignments. To correct their work accurately. To follow teacher directions. To do their best at all times.
Our students learn morebecause we have structured our schools to align with these ten learning principles.
Our Expectations are explicit. (Our Expectations Contract) Consistent attendance On-time arrival Dress code Completing all assignments Academic progress required for promotion. Parent communication Good behavior (pay attention, stay on task, and follow directions).
Our Promises are provided (Our Promises Contract) Appropriate challenge Grade level work Yearly progress Teach first, assign after Complaint process protections Direct communication for problem solving Positive Behavior Management Honest report cards
Our Mission Every single student, regardless of ethnicity, parental income, learning difference, culture, or native language, will become a fluent reader and will master the academic and intellectual skills necessary to succeed at the next level of schooling. If we want students to succeed at the next academic level, what else do they need?
What is needed for success inmiddle and high school?In addition to academic knowledgestudents need:1. Focused classroom behavior,2. A good work ethic,3. To have earned their own success,4. A belief in themselves.
How do we develop focused classroom behavior? Our lessons are highly interactive—students have to answer questions every minute of every lesson. Because of carefully designed instruction students are able to answer all questions. Our teachers strive for 100% engagement. Students are praised frequently for active participation and are routinely questioned individually. Teachers and principals intervene when any student is not participating in the lesson. Our students learn they have to pay attention.
How do we build a good work ethic? We have independent work every day in every subject—that is at the student’s level, so we know they can do it. Every assignment is graded and scored. Students must complete ALL assigments. RACS (Required Assignment Completion Sessions) are provided for students who are not completing assignments. Saturday school is also available if needed. Students learn to work hard in our schools.
How do students earn their success? Tests are based exactly on what has been directly taught (no gotcha’s). Daily work should be over 90% correct all the time. Students maintain a high rate of mastery or we will intervene. 90% is expected and is a “B”. Less than 80% is lack of mastery and is considered failing. Most students get A’s and B’s in our school and they have earned them.
We honor REAL accomplishments We give awards to students who get 100% on tests. We only give A’s to work over 95% correct. Students who pass a level in Rocket Math receive recognition. We post work of students who have fixed up papers until they are perfect. We celebrate groups and classes where all students are at mastery.
How do students acquire a belief in themselves?They have paid attention.They have done the required work.They have shown what they know on rigorous tests—not graded on a curve.We have celebrated their very REAL accomplishments.They realize they have accomplished this through their own efforts.
Our students are well prepared for success!With us they learn:1. Focused classroom behavior,2. A good work ethic,3. They have earned their own success,4. To have belief in themselves.If they have these things (and the skillsthey need) they are bound to succeed!
Our new motto captures our vision.Pay attention. Work hard. Get smart. Be proud.Our guarantee is that if students payattention and do their work they will learnand get smart.Then we can help them to be proud of theiraccomplishments.
Thank you for your attention! I hope this has given you a sense of how the Arthur Academies are truly special! My contact info: email@example.com Office phone: (503) 762-6061