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One New Point: Typically, teachers say too little about too much. We talk on and on, cover many points and then, come testing, wonder why our kids perform poorly. The longer we talk, and the more details we cover, the more students we lose. To correct this common problem at the Beginner Level of Direct Instruction, we use the One Minute Lesson ... establishing, each cycle, one new point at a time. Talk for 60 seconds, a fairly long time actually, but only about one topic.
In a lesson on polygons, don't talk about triangles, squares, and rectangles, one after the other with no break for students to absorb these new terms. Explain the general characteristics of a triangle; use Teach-Okay to give your kids a chance to paraphrase your point. Call them back with an Attention Getter; talk for a minute about equilateral triangles ... then, after students' review, go on to right angle triangles and so on. One Minute Lessons, say a lot about very little ... and never fear repeating yourself. You teach a foreign language (rhomboids, prepositions, thesis) and your pupils need lots of foreign language practice, 60 seconds at a time. At the bottom of this page you'll find a sequence of One Minute Lessons on verbs (and an example of the wrong way to construct such a lesson.)
Bullet Points: In Beginner Direct Instruction, you deliver one new point at a time. In Intermediate Direct Instruction, it's useful to create a list of bullet points, with review cycles indicated. Your bullet points for a lesson on mammals might be:
  1. Mammal definition
  2. Mammal examples
  3. Review definition and mammal examples
  4. Live birth (not eggs)
  5. Produce milk
  6. Review live birth and milk production
  7. Have fur
  8. Review all
Five Step Lesson: For Advanced Direct Instruction, launch into our Five Step Lesson, a core Whole Brain Teaching strategy. The steps are:
  1. Question
  2. Answer
  3. Critical thinking expansion
  4. Quick Test
  5. Writing
During the first three steps, you'll find the One Minute Lesson with spiral review extremely effective (the last two steps, Quick Test and Writing don't involve Direct Instruction).
Student Leader Summaries: At Legendary level of Direct Instruction,begin to use your Student Leaders to summarize a point in your lesson, answer a question, make a connection between the current topic and previous information.  For example, point at Wild Jack and say, "Tell us about three mammals we could find in our city."  Jack leaps up, uses an original Attention Getter, chooses Mirror Words, launches into a vigorous, engaging presentation on dogs, cats, and, because he loves them, coyotes.  Odds are good that your experience will be like ours.  Kids pay more attention to another kid's lesson than they do to their teacher.  A classroom full of instructors.  That's life in Teaching Heaven.
Slide Lessons: To maximize student talk, and minimize teacher talk, we encourage you to try Slide Lessons at for Semi-Divine Direct Instruction. Create a set of engaging PowerPoints on any lesson. Each slide should contain a critical thinking task or sentence frame. For example, a group of slides on mammals might start with a definition of mammals and then include the question, "How are mammals different than reptiles we previously studied?" The second slide might list several mammals and include the sentence frame, "Other common mammals are ______________." A slide on bear habitats might ask students to predict the content of the next slide ... and so forth. During a Slide Lesson, you say almost nothing (which is a good thing!). At each new slide, your kids exclaim, "Woop!," review the slide's content and perform the critical thinking task over and over until the next "Woop!" At end of the sequence, go back to slide 1 and use One Minute Lessons to summarize each point ... confident that your kids have a introductory understanding of the topics to be covered. One of our highest goals in WBT is to reduce the amount of Teacher Talk and increase Student Talk. In a half hour sequence, repeated use of Slide Lessons can achieve 75% Student Talk to a measly and healthy 25% Student Talk. During Slide Lessons listen to your kids Woop as you drink a foamy latte.

Below, in a lesson on verbs, is a sample of our approach to Direct Instruction.  (Assume that prior to each point, you’ve chosen either Mirror Words or Hands and Eyes … and after each point, initiating collaborative learning, you clap twice and say “Teach.”)

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Question:  We are going to examine a large, important question today, What are the two kinds of verbs?  Verbs are parts of speech; other parts of speech, which we will study, are nouns, prepositions and adjectives.  Understanding verbs will help you form complete sentences when you speak and write.  Verbs are so important that it’s impossible to construct even a short sentence without one!  So, I want you to make a full turn to your neighbor, use expressive gestures, and ask, “What are the two kinds of verbs?” over and over until I call you back.  (Clap, clap, “Teach!”)

Answer:  Our question was, "What are the two kinds of verbs?  Here is the answer: the two kinds of verbs are active verbs (churn your arms) and passive verbs (fold your arms).  Let me go over that again.  Active verbs (churn your arms) and passive verbs (fold your arms) are the two kinds of verbs.  You can see from my motions that active and passive verbs are very different.  So, one more time, the two kinds of verbs are active verbs (churn your arms) and passive verbs (fold your arms).  Now, when I clap twice and say “Teach!,” you clap twice and say, “Okay!”  Make a full turn and tell your neighbor, over and over, the question, what are the two kinds of verbs ... and the answer, the two kinds of verbs, active and passive.  (Clap, clap, “Teach!”)

Example 1:  The question we are answering is, "What are the two kinds of verbs?"  Our answer is, "The two kinds of verbs are active and passive."   Now, let's just talk about active verbs (churn your arms).  Here is an example.  I eat (pretend like you are feeding yourself.)  Eat is an action.  Eat is an active verb.  One more time!  I eat.  Eat is an action ... as you can see.  So, eat is an active verb.  Remember, today we are only talking about active verbs (churn your arms).  Turn to your neighbor, use my gestures, and explain that in the sentence “I eat” eat is an action; eat is one example of an active verb.  (Clap, clap, “Teach!”)

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Example 2: So, I wonder if there could be other active verbs.  We swim (make a swimming motion).  Swim is an action.  Swim must be an active verb.  We swim (make a swimming motion).  Swim is an action, so swim is an active verb.  Use my gestures and explain to your neighbor, over and over, what I said about swim being an active verb.  (Clap, clap, “Teach!”)


After several more examples, one verb at a time, students are ready to apply what they’ve learned.  First, we teach a core concept … then students undertake critical thinking.  For a lesson on verbs, we would use a sentence frame like the following.  (Students take turns with a neighbor, orally completing the sentence, filling in as many different verbs as possible.)

  1. She _____.

Walking around the room, check comprehension.  Next, calling students back, have a few kids, using Mirror Words, share their answers.  Then, we go on to a slightly more complex sentence frame.

  1. They _____ and _____.

After checking comprehension, soliciting student examples,  conclude with the following (a Triple Whammy).

  1. He _____, ______, and ______.

Here is a sample of less effective lesson delivery … saying too much about too much.


Question:  We are going to ask the question today, What is a verb?  Yesterday, we asked what is a noun?  A noun, remember, is a person, place or thing.  Who remembers some examples of nouns we talked about yesterday? (take answers from the class) Now, who has an idea about what a verb might be?  (Take responses from the class … some right, some wrong … discussion follows).  Verbs, like nouns, and prepositions are parts of speech.

Verbs are very important.  Some verbs are eat, swim, run.  These are called active verbs.  Passive verbs are different.  Some passive verbs are: is, are, was, were.  So, today, we are going to ask the question, What is a verb?  Who thinks they can find some verbs in the story we just read?  (and so on)



Answer:  There are two kinds of verbs, active and passive.  Active verbs show action and passive verbs show states of being.  A state of being is like is, are, was, were, am.  Some examples of active verbs are eat, swim, even sleep.  Sleep is an action, it is something we do, an action.  Other active verbs are run, jump, hide.  If I say, “I run,” then run is an action.  So run is an active verb.  Passive verbs are very different.  If I say “They are good, kind people,” then "are" is the verb, the passive verb.  Another passive verb is "was" … “He was happy.”  "Was" is the passive verb.  Any questions?  (Nothing but blank looks).  Now, take out your worksheets and get started underlining active and passive verbs.  Tim, I said take out your worksheet, stop sucking on your shoelaces, and underline those active and passive verbs! (and so on)

The key difference between One Minute Lessons and traditional instruction is that in the former, teachers talk for a minute, staying tightly focused on one topic; in the latter, teachers talk for many minutes about any topic that leaps into their mind.