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ERIC Identifier: ED291206
Publication Date: 1987-00-00
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children Reston VA.

Lesson Structure: Research to Practice, ERIC Digest #448.

RESEARCH FINDINGS: Teacher effectiveness studies have identified a number of critical components of a lesson for initial instruction. For mildly handicapped students, seven elements of a teacher-directed lesson are included: attention, review, goal, mode, prompt, check, and close. GAIN THE LEARNER'S ATTENTION: Gaining the attention of mildly handicapped students is critical for influencing student achievement. The teachers's task is to direct selective attention to the relevant activity. Indeed, a satisfactory criterion for maintaining student involvement in teacher-directed activities is 90% task engagement.

Attention can be gained by using verbal prompting such as "Look here," "Listen," "Let's begin," followed by a pause. Teachers need to monitor to ensure that students are attending. REVIEW RELEVANT PAST LEARNING: Learning is optimal when students can establish a link between new information and what they already know. Review can take the form of guiding students in correcting independent work or homework. Teachers can systematically review prerequisite skills for the lesson. For example, when two-digit division is being taught, one-digit division should be reviewed. COMMUNICATE THE GOAL OF THE LESSON: Low-achieving students learn best when teachers make reference to what is being learned, why it is important, and if appropriate, how it relates to other learning.

The goal should be stated briefly. If appropriate, the students should also be told the relevance of the specific skill or activity. For example: "Today we are going to learn to proofread our work. We want to learn to proofread in order to catch careless errors." MODEL THE SKILL TO BE LEARNED: Effective teachers demonstrate the skill prior to eliciting student responses. High student success rates are seen in classrooms where instruction proceeds in small steps that are not too difficult.

When modeling, the demonstration should be very clear. Steps should be exaggerated so the students will attend to the critical features. When a complex skill is being taught, it is important to ask questions of students to verify their understanding and increase their attention. Steps need to proceed in small increments, with explicit directions. The model may need to be repeated several times. PROMPT FOR CORRECT RESPONSE: Effective teaching includes guided practice with prompts and feedback. Optimal learning is created by preventing incorrect responses and eliciting as many correct responses as possible.

With mildly handicapped students, prompted practice is continued until students have demonstrated a very high level of proficiency.

Prompting can be accomplished by having teacher and student do the behavior at the same time, such as, "Read the word with me." Student and teacher can simultaneously observe each other.

With higher level skills, prompting can also be done by verbal clues as the student performs behaviors. For example: Teacher: Read this problem. Student: 34 plus 9. Teacher What column do we add first? Student: The one's column. Teacher: Read the one's column. Student: 4 plus 9. Teacher: What is 4 plus 9? (Pause). Student: 13, etc. CHECK FOR SKILL MASTERY: When students have demonstrated proficiency in performing the behavior, they then perform the behavior under supervision with no prompting.

During unprompted practice, the response needs to be monitored carefully. Feedback must be provided after every item and continued until students are consistently responding correctly. The teacher provides a number of successful repetitions. CLOSE THE LESSON: A definite closure to the lesson is needed for mildly handicapped students. This close can be accomplished by reviewing the skill, discussing what will be covered in the next lesson, or introducing independent work or homework.


Anderson, L. M. (1984). The environment of instruction: The function of seatwork in a commercially developed curriculum. In G. G. Duffy, L. R. Roehler, & J. Mason (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Perspectives and suggestions (pp. 93-103). New York:

Longman. Anderson, L. M., Evertson, C. M. & Brophy, J. E. (1982). Principles of small group instruction in elementary reading. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Institute for Research on Teaching.

Berliner, D. C. (1979). Tempus educare. In P. L. Peterson, & H. J. Walberg (Eds.). Research on teaching: Concepts, findings and implications (pp. 120-135). Berkeley: McCutchan.

Brophy, J. E. (1982). How teachers influence what is taught and learned in classrooms. Elementary School Journal, 83, 1-13.

Coker, H. Lorentz, C. W. , & Coker, J. (1980). Teacher behavior and student outcomes in the Georgia study. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Boston, MA.

Deshler, D. D., Schumaker, J. B., & Lenz, B. K. (1984). Academic and cognitive interventions for LD adolescents: Part 1. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 17, 108-117.

Deshler, D. D., Ferrell, W. R., & Kass, C. E. (1978). Monitoring of schoolwork errors by learning disabled adolescents: Journal of Learning Disabilities 11, 401-414.

Emmer, E. T., Evertson, C., Sanford, J., Clements, B., & Worsham, M. (1982). Organizing and managing the junior high classroom. Austin, TX: University of Texas, Research and Development Center for Teacher Education.

Emmer, E. T., Evertson, C., Sanford, J. & Clements, B. (1982). Improving classroom management: An experimental study in junior high classrooms, Austin, TX: University of Texas, Research and Development Center for Teacher Education.

Englert, C. S. (1984). Examining effective direct instruction practices in special education settings. Remedial and Special Education, 5, 38-47.

Evertson, C., Emmer, E., Clements, B., Sanford, J., Worsham, M., & Williams, E. (1981). Organizing and managing the elementary school classroom, Austin, TX: University of Texas, Research and Development Center for Teacher Education.

Evertson, C., Emmer, E. T., Brophy, J. E. (1980). Predictors of effective teaching in junior high mathematics classrooms. Journal of Research in Mathematics Education, 11, 167-178.

Fitzpatrick, K. A., (1982). An investigation of secondary classroom material strategies for increasing student academic engaged time. Doctoral dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Good, T. L., & Grouws, D. (1979). The Missouri mathematics effectiveness project: An experimental study in fourth-grade classrooms. Journal of Educational Psychology, 71, 335-362.

Hunter, M. & Russell, D. (1981). Planning for effective instruction: Lesson design. In Increasing your lesson effectiveness. Palo Alto, CA: The Learning Institute.

Mercer, C. D., & Snell, M. E. (1977). Learning theory research in mental retardation. Implications for teaching. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill.

Roehler, L. R., & Duffy, G. G. (1984). Direct explanation of comprehension processes. In G. G. Duffy, L. R. Roehler, & J. Mason (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Perspectives and suggestions (pp. 265-280). New York: Longman.

Stallings, J., Needles, M., & Stayrook, N. (1979). How to change the process of teaching basic reading skills in secondary schools. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.

Stallings, J., & Kaskowitz, D. (1974). Follow through classroom observation evaluation, 1972-73. Menlo Park, CA: Stanford Research Institute.

Zeaman, D., & House, B. J. (1963). The role of attention in retardate discrimination learning. In N. R. Ellis (Ed.), Handbook of mental deficiency (pp. 159-220). New York: McGraw-Hill.


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