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An alternative to scripted teaching

Direct Instruction, the umbrella under which scripted teaching sits, is set up as the antidote to Discovery Learning, the Traditional answer to Progressivism. This little post seeks to clarify how we use the term, 'script' and assure you (at the risk of coming over all 1990s) that there is a 3rd Way when it comes to literacy lessons.

I think we'll call it Directly Indirect Scripted Discovery Learning. Suggestions for pithier titles are welcome.


Here's what we don't mean by 'script' (10 seconds will probably be enough.):

The clip is from this video on YouTube is you want to watch the whole thing. It is pretty much 100% what we don't do in That Reading Thing.

Here's what we do mean by 'script':

Here's the analogy. Your student is with you at the top of a mountain. At the bottom of the mountain is everything that can be read or spelt in English. The student can usually climb down part of the way without any help fom you. When they get stuck on a ledge ('I don't know that word', 'How do you spell?' etc), you have a few words to say to them consistently, (a 'script'). This serves several purposes:

  • It talks them towards a correct answer in that moment without giving them the answer thus demonstrating that reading and spelling involve process and are not just things you know or don't know.
  • It leaves them with an automatic strategy when they encounter an unfamiliar word for reading or spelling when you're not there.
  • It creates independence and calms anxiety.

The feedback from That Reading Thing students is they ‘hear’ their TRT tutor’s voice when they’re in stressful literacy situations, whether taking an online test to get into the army, writing an exam or filling in a job application. It stops them from panicking and gives them something to do other than guess wildly. For others, it stops a confusing rush of images from years of trying an assortment of visual methods. It gives them time to breathe and think before writing or reading.

Our script is not about control or uniformity and it is not about any educational -ist or -ism. It's simply a lightweight strategy for helping students feel safe as they become independent readers and spellers, giving them a way of talking themselves off their own literacy ledges when you're not around.

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