The principles of instruction incorporated into all of Wilson’s programs are key to their success. These principles have been identified by research as effective teaching principles found to increase student achievement.
Delivering Systematic Instruction: Sequential and Cumulative
All three programs present skills in a systematic and sequential manner. Previously taught skills are brought forward cumulatively. New skills in each Unit/Step build upon previously taught ones and are presented explicitly. Instruction continually circles back to relate the new concepts with previously mastered ones. Therefore, students have ample opportunities to practice these skills for reinforcement. In this way, students are able to develop a deeper understanding of the structure of English words. Optimal learning is facilitated by a gradual release of responsibility model that moves from “I do it” (teacher demonstration), to “We do it” (guided instruction/practice), then “You do it together” (collaborative learning), and finally, “You do it alone” (independent success).
Instruction is visible and explicit. The teacher directly teaches all concepts and skills to students through explanation, modeling, and active learning. The teacher provides classroom demonstrations by using manipulatives to accompany explanations. All learning involves active participation, allowing students to learn through various modalities and helping them to maintain focus.
Lessons are interactive in nature and designed to fully engage students in the task at hand. All skills and concepts are taught and reinforced through visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic senses. This provides learning through various modalities and helps students maintain their focus. For example, students learn by hearing sounds; manipulating color-coded sound, syllable, and word cards; performing finger tapping exercises; writing down spoken words; reading aloud and repeating what they have read in their own words; and listening to others read aloud.
Providing Ample Practice with Feedback
Wilson’s programs provide students with multiple opportunities to practice and reinforce all skills. Information is presented in different ways and with varying activities within a lesson. Students demonstrate their understanding and application of concepts through a variety of tasks. Students’ correct answers are given immediate positive feedback. Students’ errors are also corrected “on the spot” with guided questions so that students learn from their mistakes.
Teachers are instructed to plan and teach diagnostically based on student mastery of concepts taught. Teachers who work with Wilson programs are required to write their own lesson plans to diagnostically differentiate instruction to various students in a classroom based on need and mastery of previously taught material. Teachers assess student mastery by analyzing student outcomes on formative and summative assessments and daily observations.
The programs engage students in rigorous work, asking them to employ metacognitive thinking since it is essential that they understand the underpinnings of word structure and can apply and generalize concepts.
Supporting Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Principles
Wilson programs support Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles by utilizing multiple means of teaching students skills and concepts, engaging students in the learning process, assessing student learning, and providing student supports.
The following are key instructional principles in all of Wilson’s programs that are critical for both English language learners and students with a language learning disability:
- Integration of listening, speaking, reading and writing
- Explicit modeling of skills and strategies
- Verbal explanations for concepts enhanced by visual, physical, and kinesthetic involvement
- Opportunities for student interaction in supportive groups
- Procedures that ensure student engagement with hands-on activities
- Clear and consistent directions and cueing systems
- Ample opportunities to reinforce skills
- Scaffolded instruction
- Repetition of vocabulary, including the vocabulary of word structure (such as digraph, short vowel)
- Assessment of content knowledge that is performance-based rather than language-based