What is explicit instruction?

The explicit instruction model provides teachers with a structure for explaining and demonstrating how reading works. It also provides students with mental models (approximations of the thinking involved), multiple opportunities for practice, and coaching; until they develop a high level of control of the reading concept, process, skill, or strategy being taught. Since the content of “coaching” is derived from the teacher’s observations or student performance, analysis of products, and/or discussions with students, this is very much a data-driven model. What students can or cannot do in applying a concept (e.g., top-to-bottom and left-to-right in reading English) or using strategies, such as; decoding by analogy, or adjusting predictions when reading connected text, shape the teacher’s next explanation, demonstrations, and selection of practice activities (Emily Calhoun, 2004).


Why use explicit instruction?

  • Helps students become more metacognitive about their reading
  • Allows for in-depth focus on specific reading concepts, skills, and strategies
  • Provides an instructional and assessment tool that teachers can use in collecting data about student application of the invisible processes that support reading development (Emily Calhoun, 2004)

What does the research say about explicit instruction?

  • Explicit instruction in the application of reading strategies (phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension) has been shown to be highly effective. National Reading Panel, 2000
  • Explicit instruction is most effective when adapted to the instructional situation. Duffy & Hoffman, 1999
  • The most effective teachers are sometimes highly explicit and sometimes less explicit, sometimes they explain in one way and sometimes they explain in other ways. Duffy, 1994
  • Monitoring and regulating skills and effective application of relevant strategies can be taught through explicit instruction. Van Keer & Verhaeghe, 2005
  • Explicit instruction is effective, especially for students who struggle. Duffy, 2003