What is Direct Instruction

Direct Instruction

Direct Instruction (DI) is a carefully planned, fast-paced method of teaching used in the Pre-K–5 grades. Invented in the 1960’s by Siegfried Engelmann, DI has been continuously researched and improved upon for over 50 years. DI consistently yields excellent results in student performance and skills, effectively teaching all types of learners at all ability levels.

play_circle_filledView Direct Instruction Film

The Direct Instruction Process:

  • Students take a placement test to determine appropriate placement in the core subjects of Reading, Math, Spelling and Language Arts.
  • All students of one single skill level are placed in a classroom together and taught at a pace and level appropriate for their abilities.
  • Informal assessments are given daily throughout each lesson to determine immediate retention.
  • Formal assessments are given every 5 to 10 lessons to determine full comprehension.
  • Formal and informal tutoring and extra practice are administered as needed to most effectively help students reach mastery before advancing to the next lesson.
  • Teachers meet frequently to assess student progress and determine whether additional actions should be taken to help students succeed, including shifting students to different skill level groupings as needed.
  • Students rapidly gain and retain a wealth of knowledge and build self-confidence and competency in their abilities due to the robust Direct Instruction program.

Why Direct Instruction?

  • Mastery: All students must master a concept before moving on; concepts are foundational building blocks that expand on each other.
  • Retention: Concepts are taught in a spiral format; previously learned topics return throughout the year to ensure they are not forgotten.
  • Skill Level Grouping: All students in one classroom learn at their specific skill level together. No other skill levels are present in the classroom. This ensures that no one gets bored or struggles to understand; all learn at the pace appropriate for their individual needs.
  • Self-Confidence: Students are repeatedly called upon to respond in unison and individually. Praise is frequently given and incorrect answers are gently corrected and explained. Students quickly grow in confidence as they earn their own success.
  • Rapid Pacing: The structure and format of DI maximizes learning time, meaning students can gain greater amounts of knowledge in shorter time. This allows them to excel far faster than the average, advancing learning potential.
  • Fun: Students love DI lessons! The fast-paced, engaged learning process allows students to interact with their lessons in a far more interesting way than traditional lectures allow. From sing-alongs to jumping jack counting, students genuinely enjoy the DI model of learning.


Thales Academy Pre-K provides a robust preparation for the Kindergarten year. Direct Instruction lessons are supplemented with daily reinforcement of character development and weekly courses in Technology, Art, Music, and Physical Education. Each week, lessons are centered on themes that foster creativity and curiosity, such as holiday traditions, American heroes, outer space, seasons, and literary elements. Students participate in crafts, activities, story time, songs, games, and daily outdoor play (weather permitting).

Thales Academy Pre-K is currently offered at our Holly Springs, Knightdale, Raleigh, and Wake Forest locations for students who are 4 years of age by October 31 of the registering school year. The Pre-K school day runs from 8:00 to 11:45am. Classes are limited to 16 students, so we recommend applying early to reserve your child’s seat.


The Thales Academy K–5 curriculum provides a thorough preparation for the upper grades. Direct Instruction lessons are supplemented with daily reinforcement of character development and outdoor play (weather permitting) as well as weekly courses in Technology, Art, Music, and Physical Education. To learn more about the Thales Academy K–5 curriculum, see:

For more information about Direct Instruction, see our Resources page.