Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Natural Selection in the Wild - Direct Instruction - Section 4: Focus and Independent Work


One of the most profound changes in my instruction came about 7 years ago when I read the book Better Instruction Through Structured Teaching. There were parts of the book that were so foreign to me that I read and reread passages again and again to try to understand them. One of the hardest parts for me was the focus lesson. This is the "I DO" part of the lesson. The term "I DO" led me to imagine that this is where you give the students the content. I was always EXTREMELY frustrated with the fact that the time frame for the focus lesson was 5-15 min. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LECTURE IN 5-15 min? WHAT WOULD WE DO FOR THE REST OF THAT TIME?  

The problem I had was in realizing that Gradual Release is not set up for lecture, it is set up for kids to gain, process, evaluate, and create THEIR OWN information. The focus lesson isn't about me giving them information but is about me modeling the task that they are about to do. My goal at the end of a focus lesson is content with clarity. Students won't know more about science but they will have the skill to get information about science. With this mindset, focus lessons are 5-10 minutes. I intersperse them as needed in the classroom. I always try to model and think before a task, but I also stop the class and do this whenever I see confusion. Some important things to make sure you do in a focus lesson are:

  • Expose your thinking
  • Be clear about the task
  • Write the task down so that students can go back to the assignment for clarity.
  • Set up success criteria


  The purpose of focus lessons
  Adjustments to Practice: The purpose of focus lessons
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Natural Selection in the Wild - Direct Instruction

Unit 11: Adaptation: Natural Selection in the Wild
Lesson 3 of 8

Objective: Students will be able to analyze the adaptations necessary for organisms' survival.

Big Idea: How can organisms survive the desert? Students study an extreme environment to analyze successful adaptations.

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3 teachers like this lesson
Science, thinking map, natural selection
  45 minutes
desert storm by fracfx d3euueg
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