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Direct Instruction and at risk students

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First, here is a link for DI vs di:




I have seen in my experience that programs shown to be effective with minorities, low SES, and other "at risk" students can also be effective with students with learning disabilities or low IQ.  For example, the "I See Sam books" have been used by some of the folks on the Learning Challenges board here with success, and a study of the program found it was especially effective for closing the gap for minorities and students with low SES:




Does anyone know of any online studies about DI/di and students with LD or low IQ?  


It makes sense to me that this type of approach would be better for all types of struggling students, but that is not always what is used for these students in schools or what is studied...


Tangents and musings appreciated, too!!


(There are offline studies from the organization above.  I know nothing about them, just found them looking for info thinking about what has worked and what hasn't with some of my students with challenges or a high need for repetition.  For many of them, I suspect a low IQ or some type of LD but don't ask, a few parents have later confirmed one or the other later after I have know them and worked with their child for a while.)

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Link to abstract only




Some of these older studies use language to describe participants that may offend. 

Thanks!  Interesting link.


I am working on a document about Speller use with slaves, based on the Slave Narratives, I have a language warning on that, too.  It is also amazing the progress that was made with the use of the Speller to teach reading.


It is sad that this research is not more well known, the differences are amazing.


While some of the use of DI, especially if used for very long school days, seems a bit over the top, children do enjoy a certain amount of repetition if presented in a fun, loving manner.  


The "nonsense" syllables (they're all really parts of words, Webster left out the few syllables that never occur in words) and the time it took to learn to read and spell them was derided as "drill and kill" when the Spellers were replaced, although they used different phrases, the phrase "drill and kill" had not yet been coined.

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Check out research on Success For All. It was a big di program when I started teaching in public schools here, especially for low SES population schools. I did the training on it and taught it for a year, and it's basically the same sort of stuff as the DISTAR kits from the 1960's, and seemed to work well for some, OK for many, and horribly for a small number. My big objection to it as a teacher wasn't the materials or teaching, but that the response when a kid was struggling was simply to send them through the same material again, in the name of "heterogeneous ability grouping"-with no awareness that if a 4th grader is still struggling with primer level reading materials, the kid probably needs something different, like, say, a Neuropsych evaluation for possible learning disabilities. If they hadn't given me the lowest group of non-special needs identified 4th-6th graders, I might have had a different impression of the program. (As it was, I transferred after 1 year to the one district school that taught Slingerland phonics to everyone, and was highly aggressive at making sure kids who had LD issues that needed specialized instruction got it).

Edited by dmmetler
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There's a lot of controversy in AU over DI being used in indigenous schools. DI, being N. American, was culturally inappropriate, among other objections, including that the indigenous students weren't low IQ but were beginning English language learners, being already proficient in their mother tongue and assorted dialects.


Looking over the literature, it seems that earlier studies were more positive, and later studies have been more critical. I'd have to read more to see if the more critical studies are based on outcomes or philosophical concerns.


It also seems as if it is subject to the laws of diminishing returns - big gains in early elementary becoming small to no gains as the student ages.


I found this article, from which it seems like the objections are mainly philosophical. I think later use of DI may not be as effective because of stages of learning differences, and the complexity of material makes it hard to find a well written text suitable for DI type use.



Edited by ElizabethB
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