To a non-educator, teachers just get up and… sorta talk. They imagine teachers just lecturing off the cuff and — if the bell rings in the middle of a sentence — so be it. No teachers in movies employ models of instruction.
Observe the most iconic teaching scene of all:
The guy is just blah, blah, blahing. There’s no structure. No objective beyond “talk about topic X.” No plan. No idea of how to get students from here to there.
Build a Lesson on a Model of Instruction
But a professional educator has a plan. A, ahem, lesson plan if you will. And lesson plans are built on models of instruction. Models of instruction are like templates to construct different types of lessons. One model of instruction leads to many different lessons.
And there are dozens of models that we can build on!
⚠️ My problem? As a new teacher, I only knew only one model of instruction: Direct Instruction. It’s all I had been taught! I was good at it, but my palette was so limited. Every single lesson followed the same structure.
Now, this is better than having NO model of instruction – but it’s pretty limiting for a professional educator. Imagine a chef who only knew how to grill but had never heard of baking, boiling, or frying.
More models of instruction means new possibilities for how I’d plan lessons. More models of instruction made me a more effective teacher because I could use the most appropriate template for each lesson.
Plus, I don’t have to re-invent the wheel. I can build on the work of past educators and use structures that have worked for decades!
Many Models of Instruction
So, if you’re teaching without any kind of structured plan or if you’re stuck with a single model of instruction, here’s a list of models of instruction you can try.
- Concept Attainment
- Concept Formation or Inductive Model
- Direct Instruction
- Group Investigation
- Inquiry Training
As you learn more models of instruction you’ll quickly see how some fit perfectly with certain instructional needs. A lesson about multiplying decimals will benefit from a very different model than a lesson about the pros and cons of wind power in a particular city. You can have the same objective and, by using a different model, end up with vastly different student thinking.