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Scheduling Sufficient Instructional Time
One of the most important prerequisites for implementing the comprehensive Direct Instruction (DI) model successfully with all children is to provide sufficient instructional time for each instructional group. Student success depends on the rate at which students master material presented in the DI programs. The schedule should include enough time for students to make adequate progress at mastery through the programs and allow teachers to accelerate higher performing students or provide additional practice to students having problems mastering concepts or skills.
Specifically, schedules should include the following:
- A 90-minute reading block in the morning daily for all students.
- A 60-minute reading block in the afternoon for all students in grades Kindergarten through 1st grade and those students who are below grade level* expectations in grades 2 and above.
- An additional 60-minute block for language instruction after Kindergarten when assistants are no longer available to instruct groups. (An instructional assistant teaches language in Kindergarten and also in first grade where possible at the same time the teacher teaches reading.)
- Common instructional times by subject for each grade level, and where possible across grade levels. Schedules should provide the flexibility to group and regroup students across grade levels.
- Second reading periods for students in middle school who place in Corrective Reading Decoding A or B1. Ideally, the second periods should be scheduled in the afternoon and provided in addition to a separate Comprehension period.
Having a schedule with sufficient instructional time is the first step. The second step is implementing the schedule so that precious minutes are not lost. It is critical that all staff understand that “every second counts.” Time lost in transition or simply starting late results in time not available for students to master the material.
*Implementing a schedule with sufficient instructional time results in students completing one reading level per year at the minimum. To be at benchmark, students must complete the Reading Mastery Signature Edition level designated for their grade. For example, second grade children need to complete the grade 2 RM Signature level. Fourth grade children need to complete the grade 4 RM Signature level. Many continuing students will exceed these minimum benchmarks.
Note that students who receive two reading periods a day will learn a great deal of science and social studies information. Science and social studies concepts are systematically pre-taught in the upper levels of the Reading Mastery program, integrated into the stories and then reviewed to ensure students’ retention of the material. Some schools have used no other science program, and their students have performed outstandingly on tests of their scientific knowledge.
CAUTION: Teachers cannot guarantee student success if students do not spend a sufficient amount of time in the DI programs. This is especially true for younger children who are in the early stages of formal learning. Young students have fewer problems when practice occurs twice a day instead of once every 24 hours. Two reading periods a day is particularly helpful for highly at-risk students who have less background information and less academic experience than their more affluent peers.
See the following for more information on scheduling:
NIFDI Scheduling Guidelines
Sample Schedule for Kindergarten
Sample Schedule for First Grade
Sample Schedule for Second, Third or Fourth Grade
Middle School Scheduling Guidelines
Sample Schedule for Middle School