Teaching Direct Instruction Reading Programs



Teaching Direct Instruction Reading Programs to groups or in classrooms

A Simple Guide to Success

Reading Mastery, Horizons, Corrective Reading (Decoding),Teach Your Children to Read Well and The ToolBox Series for Literacy are all excellent Direct Instruction reading programs.

Sometimes teachers are expected to implement these programs with entire classes, even if the classroom is split between two grade levels.

When I was working in regular or large special education classrooms with teachers, I encouraged them to use the following plan. I have yet to see it fail to deliver excellent results.

Getting Set Up

It will work best if you can start by grouping your students by their current reading ability.

  • I recommend 3 groups.
  • The first group consists of your best students and will be the largest group.
  • The second group consists of weak students, usually 5-6 in a normal-sized classroom.
  • The third group is made up of the 3-5 most at-risk students. In a 40-45 minute period,

Use of Class Time

  • I allocate 10-12minutes for the top group,
  • 15 minutes for the middle group and
  • 20+ minutes for the lowest performers.
  • Don’t worry about completing a lesson, just stop at the task when the time is up.

What about the others?

  • Have each group practice or do their workbook lesson while you instruct a group.
  • Teach the top group first, then put them to work.
  • Teach the middle group next and then have each of them paired with one of your top students who will listen to them read while you teach the lowest group.
  • Teach the weakest group last. They may have already heard all or at least some of the lesson by then.

Some suggestions

  • Do not let the clock or the calendar drive your program.
  • Let the results from your students be your guide.
  • Your top students can also do a one-minute fluency check for story reading fluency with all of your students after they have completed their lesson.
  • At first this takes some organization but once it is established it will run like clockwork and you will be able to teach every student to read well and fluently.
  • You will also teach the same lesson or at least parts of it 3 times in a 45 minute span.
  • It’s hard on you but terrific for your students, especially those most at risk.
  • With the story reading fluency check, the strong student listens to the weaker student, counts the errors and makes a pencil mark where the student ends. If the mark does not move in 3 days, the student consults with you.
  • Break the piece in half and have the student read it twice in the minute.
  • Every so often take a period or part of a period off and play games with the kids, letting them know that they earned it for being good students and good helpers.


  • This also works for homeschooling families when you have several children, one of whom needs much more instruction than the rest.

Tags: , ,


!Product Doorways