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Highlights of 45th National Direct Instruction Conference

Over 200 educators gathered in Eugene, Oregon, July 23-27 for the 45th National Direct Instruction Conference. This year the conference celebrated 50 years since the first Direct Instruction programs were published. There was a display of some of the earliest DISTAR Reading, Language and Arithmetic kits. Attendees were also treated to an opening keynote given by veteran DI consultant Carolyn Schneider. Carolyn highlighted the history of DI and the impact it has made over the years. Click here to watch Carolyn's keynote.


The 2019 Excellence in Education Awards were presented at the conference opening. There were 6 recipients of the Siegfried Engelmann Excellence in Education Award. They were:

  • Kathy Bremer, a teacher from Titusville, Florida
  • Christine Martin, a resource specialist from Livingston, California
  • Brenda Kahn, an instructional coach at Frederick Elementary in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Marvelyn Johnson, an instructional coach at Frederick Elementary in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Jenae Toulson, an instructional coach at City Springs Elementary in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Stacey Hicks, an instructional coach at City Springs Elementary in Baltimore, Maryland

The Wayne Carnine Student Improvement award was given to Malachi Howard, a student in Portland, Oregon.

Click here to view the presentation of the awards.


Participants at the conference also enjoyed the DI Block Party, held the evening of July 24th. Sponsored by McGraw-Hill Education, the party featured hamburgers, hotdogs and all the traditional fixings. There were many games, including a very popular giant jenga game on the patio. Attendees also enjoyed sharing their karaoke skills with the rest of the crowd. The Block Party has become one of the most popular features of the conference, along with the excellent training.


Kurt Engelmann, President of NIFDI, gave the closing keynote, titled Are the Reading Wars Over? He highlighted a recent literacy leadership brief released by the International Literacy Association. In a major shift in its stance related to teaching beginning reading, the organization is now endorsing the use of explicit and systematic phonics. Click here to download a copy of the ILA paper. To view Kurt's closing, click here.

Start making your plans now to join us in Eugene July 27-31, 2020 for the 46th National Direct Instruction Conference!

Registration Open for Direct Instruction Coaching Academy!

One of the most critical roles in a successful Direct Instruction Implementation is the Peer Coach. With good, careful peer coaching, teachers will become more skilled and proficient in teaching the program, and students will excel with improved instruction.

On October 24 & 25, NIFDI will present Analyzing Data, Classroom Observations & Providing Feedback. This two-day training, co-sponsored by McGraw-Hill Education and conducted by Cheri Gerrein, is designed for instructional coaches, peer coaches and others responsible for observing instruction and improving student performance.

Through demonstrations, practice and hands-on activities, participants will learn how to:

  • Gain meaningful information from lesson progress and in-program mastery data.
  • Model how to improve written records.
  • Conduct supportive classroom observations and demonstrations aimed at increasing student success.
  • Provide effective oral and written feedback to instructors to directly impact student performance.
  • Conduct classroom demonstration, in-class coaching and team teaching
  • Design and deliver effective, on-going professional development sessions.

A full brochure and registration information is available here. You can also contact Bryan Wickman, NIFDI's Outreach Events Coordinator at 1.877.485.1973 or by email at with questions or for more information.

Two Longtime Direct Instruction Educators Pass

We are sorry to announce that two longtime Direct Instruction teachers, trainers and consultants have recently passed away.

Brenda Kahn, an instructional coach at City Springs Elementary in Baltimore, Maryland died June 19. Along with her school-year job, Brenda was very popular trainer at Direct Instruction conferences for many years. Laura Doherty, President of the Baltimore Curriculum Project noted that Brenda very much looked forward to coming to Eugene each year to train at the DI conference. Her training impacted the lives of thousands of students and will be greatly missed. Her obituary can be accessed here.

We also received word that Susan Borden passed away on August 23 in Toronto. Susan worked with NIFDI for several years as an implementation manager. NIFDI President Kurt Engelmann commented, "She was an Implementation Manager extraordinaire." He also noted her love of fine dining, which was a great benefit to those she worked with on consulting assignments. Click here for her complete obituary.

The Road to Success: Teaching Classroom Routines and Expectations Webinar Scheduled for July 17 & 18

Greater understanding and application of preventative strategies increase the odds of good behavior in your room. Effective classroom managers are known not by what they do when misbehavior occurs, but what they do to set their classrooms up for academic success and prevent problems from occurring.

This two-session webinar will help you:

  • Understand the relationship between instructor behavior and the learning environment
  • Identify key features of an effective classroom
  • Develop steps toward implementing effective, proactive strategies in your classroom.

For maximum benefit, the webinar is designed to be attended in pairs to facilitate practice, however single attendees are welcome.

The sessions will be held 6:30-8:00pm (Eastern) July 17 and continuing 6:30-8:00pm (Eastern) July 18. Priced at only $89.00 per site. Includes downloadable participant material with session activities and other resources. Click here to sign up!

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