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Unleashing the Power of Best First Instruction

By October 12, 2022May 31st, 2023No Comments

To improve student achievement, close learning gaps, and ensure equitable outcomes for all students, there’s likely no better place to begin than providing best first instruction every day, in every classroom.

After analyzing over 100 rigorous research studies, we have identified 14 high-impact Tier 1 instructional strategies that are directly linked to higher levels of student learning. This whitepaper explains the power of best first instruction and describes each of the 14 strategies. Each strategy is also aligned with a brain-based learning model that teachers can incorporate into their daily lesson plans and teaching activities regardless of the subject area or grade level they specialize in.

Big Ideas

  • 14 research-backed instructional strategies mapped to a brain-based learning model that supports students’ knowledge building through scaffolded learning.

  • Classroom resources that encourage students’ critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration.

  • Evidence-based frameworks that connect instruction with student engagement.

  • Analysis of data showing the positive impact of best first instruction and better student outcomes.

  • Resources that empower teachers to accomplish their instructional goals and better prepare their students for success in college, career, and life.

What People Are Saying . . .

We all learned back in math class that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. When it comes to improving student achievement, closing gaps, and ensuring more equitable outcomes, the “straightest line” for educators is to focus squarely on ensuring that every student receives best first instruction every day, in every classroom.

Through a review of rigorous scientific studies of teaching strategies in classrooms with diverse learners, a team at McREL International has discovered (or perhaps re-discovered) that best first instruction has tremendous impact on student learning—equivalent to months or years of additional learning while closing achievement gaps. Over two years, our team examined hundreds of research studies and identified 105 that met the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse standards for evidence. Together, the findings from these studies demonstrate that when applied at the right time and in the right way, a relatively small number of teaching practices (14 in all) can have a tremendous impact on learning, especially for marginalized students.

We don’t need sweeping changes, new whiz-bang technologies, or the latest reform du jour to support more equitable outcomes for students and help kids catch up. We simply need to help teachers at all grade levels consistently use a handful of tried-and-true instructional strategies that comprise best first instruction.

Educators can learn more about the 14 instructional strategies in The New Classroom Instruction That Works.
Goodwin, B. (2022). Unleashing the power of best first instruction. McREL International.

McREL is a non-profit, non-partisan education research and development organization that since 1966 has turned knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance and training for teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world.