EDI: Their Chosen Instructional Model
In the Central Valley, Sanger Unified School District is well-known for exiting District Program Improvement. The demographics for Sanger Unified at the time included 24% English learners, most long-term. DataWORKS trained the principals and teachers in EDI, and it became their district-wide instructional model. In the final report from an external evaluation commissioned by the S.H. Cowell Foundation, Jane David and Joan Talbert made the following statements about Sanger Unified’s use of Explicit Direct Instruction:
The demographics for Sanger Unified at the time included 24% English learners, most long-term.As with each strand of Sanger’s reform, the choice of a specific approach to instruction grew out of the experiences of those in the district. In this case, one elementary school—the first in Sanger to be labeled Program Improvement by the state— had already experimented with an approach to direct instruction identified by the principal and demonstrated substantial increases in achievement. With training and support in Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI) from DataWorks, the principal and teacher coach at this school taught their staff a specific set of strategies for developing and teaching lessons designed to help struggling students. One of the poorest schools with half their students classified as English learners, their success created demand, spurring interest among principals and teachers in implementing EDI in their schools. Grounded in Madeleine Hunter’s elements of effective lessons, the principles embodied in Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI) over time became the district’s de facto definition of effective lessons.
The approach incorporates clear teaching objectives and teacher-centered instruction, along with guided and independent practice. But what struck the strongest chord with Sanger leaders and teachers was the absolute insistence on teaching to grade-level standards, ongoing checking for understanding, and frequent “pair-shares” that provide opportunities for conversation between pairs of students so important to English learners. The argument that Sanger students would never reach or exceed grade-level proficiency if teachers targeted instruction to their existing level of understanding made sense to Sanger educators, particularly when coupled with a system of targeted interventions described later. Similarly, calling on students randomly rather than the usual suspects (e.g., by drawing students’ names from a cup) and holding up small whiteboards provided quick and easy ways to gauge understanding across the whole class.
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