From 2/23/01 -


The Madeline Hunter Direct Instruction Model

The Madeline Hunter Elements of Effective Instruction

Decontextualization for transfer and general application





3.anticipatory set




check for understanding

5.guided practice/monitoring


7.independent practice

[The above outlines what is generally referred to as the Madeline Hunter Method; it is only a small part of her "method." An explanation of the meaning of the

terms follows here and a fuller development of the Hunter Method follows this section.]

1.Before the lesson is prepared, the teacher should have a clear idea of what the teaching objectives are. What, specifically, should the student be able to do, understand, care about as a result of the teaching. informal. Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives which is shown below, gives an idea of the terms used in an instructional objective.

2.The teacher needs to know what standards of performance are to be expected and when pupils will be held accountable forwhat is expected. The pupils should be informed about the standards of performance. Standards: an explanation of the type of lesson to be presented, procedures to be followed, and behavioral expectations related to it, what the students are expected to do, what knowledge or skills are to be demonstrated and in what


3.Anticipatory set or Set Induction: sometimes called a "hook" to grab the student's attention: actions and statements by the teacher to relate the experiences of the students to the objectives of the lesson. To put students into a receptive frame of mind.

To focus student attention on the lesson. To create an organizing framework for the ideas, principles, or information that is to follow (c.f., the teaching strategy called "advance organizers").

To extend the understanding and the application of abstract ideas through the use of example or analogy...used any time a different activity or new concept is to be introduced.

4.Teaching/presentation: includes Input, Modeling, and Checking for Understanding.

1.Input: The teacher provides the information needed for students to gain the knowledge or skill through lecture, film, tape, video, pictures, etc.

2.Modeling: Once the material has been presented, the teacher uses it to show students examples of what is expected as an end product of their

work. The critical aspects are explained through labeling, categorizing, comparing, etc. Students are taken to the application level (problem-solving, comparison, summarizing, etc.)

3.Checking for Understanding: Determination of whether students have "got it" before proceeding. It is essential that students practice doing it right so the teacher must know that students understand before proceed to practice. If there is any doubt that the class has not understood, the concept/skill should be retaught before practice begins.

4.Questioning strategies: asking questions that go beyond mere recall to probe for the higher levels of ensure memory network binding and transfer. Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives provides a structure for questioning that is hierarchical and cumulative. [See the end of this section for a summary of the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.] It provides guidance to the teacher instructuring questions at the level of proximal development, i.e., a level at which the pupil is prepared to cope. Questions progress from the lowest

to the highest of the six levels of the cognitive domain of the Taxononomy of Educational Objectives: knowledge, comprehension,

application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. [LINK PENDING See section following this outline for an exposition of the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains of educational objectives.]

[For questioning strategies, such as Wait Time (allowing all pupils the time necessary to process and develop a response to a question before

placing the question with a specific pupil) see GESA materials. GESA/TESA provide a practical model for questioning.]

5.Guided practice: An opportunity for each student to demonstrate grasp of new learning by working through an activity or exercise under the teacher's direct supervision. The teacher moves around the room to determine the level of mastery and to provide individual remediation as needed. [FredJones'"praise, prompt, and leave" is suggested as a strategy to be used in guided practice.]

6.Closure: Those actions or statements by a teacher that are designed to bring a lesson presentation to an appropriate conclusion. Used to help students

bring things together in their own minds, to make sense out of what has just been taught. "Any questions? No. OK, let's move on" is not closure.

Closure is used:

to cue students to the fact that they have arrived at an important point in the lesson or the end of a lesson, to help organize student learning, to help form a coherent picture, to consolidate, eliminate confusion and frustration, etc., to reinforce the major points to be help establish the network of thought relationships that provide a number of possibilities for cues for retrieval. Closure is the act of reviewing and clarifying the key points of a lesson, tying them together into a coherent whole, and ensuring their utility in application by securing them in the student's conceptual network.

7.Independent practice: Once pupils have mastered the content or skill, it is time to provide for reinforcement practice. It is provided on a repeating schedule so that the learning is not forgotten. It may be home work or group or individual work in class. It can be utilized as an element in a subsequent project. It should provide for decontextualization: enough different contexts so that the skill/concept may be applied to any relevant situation...not only the context in which it was originally learned. The failure to do this is responsible for most student failure to be able to apply something learned.

Summary: You told them what you were going to tell them with set, you tell them with presentation, you demonstrate what you want them to do with modeling, you see if they understand what you've told them with checking for understanding, and you tell them what you've told them by tying it all

together with closure. [For a detailed treatment of this topic, see Cooper et al, Classroom Teaching Skills, 4th ed., D.C. Heath &Co., Lexington, Ky.]

The Madeline Hunter "seven step lesson plan." The basic lesson plan outline given above contains the so-called "Hunter direct instruction lesson plan

elements:" 1) objectives, 2) standards, 3) anticipatory set, 4) teaching [input, modeling, and check for understanding], 5) guided practice, 6) closure, and 7)

independent practice. If you count input, modeling, and check for understanding as three steps, there are nine elements...not the seven in the usual title.

Madeline Hunter did not create a seven step lesson plan model. She suggested various elements that might be considered in planning for effective instruction. In

practice, these elements were compiled by others as the "Seven Step Lesson Plan, "taught through teachers inservice, and used as a check list of items that must be

contained in each lesson.

This application is contrary to Dr. Hunter's intent and its misuse is largely responsible for objections to "direct instruction" and to Madeline Hunter's system of clinical supervision. Used as Dr. Hunter's intent and its misuse is largely responsible for objections to "direct instruction" and to Madeline Hunter's

system of clinical supervision. Used as Dr. Hunter intended, the steps make a useful structure for development of many lesson plans...including non-behavioral

ones. Not all elements belong in every lesson although they will occur in a typical unit plan composed of several lessons. (Those who have an evaluator who uses the elements as a check list and records a fault for each element missing from a lesson are referred to Patricia Wolfe,"What the 'Seven-Step Lesson Plan' Isn't," Educational Leadership, pp. 70-71, Feb., 1987.]

For a further explanation of direct instruction and a similar lesson plan model, see Joyce and Weil, Models of Teaching,"Mastery Learning and Direct Instruction." [P. 325, ff. in the third edition.]

Note that the term "mastery learning" may mean different things to different people. With Benjamin Bloom, Mastery Learning is a plan for ensuring that all children learn material before proceeding to the next step.


"The Madeline Hunter model"


Teaching to an objective

[lesson objective--not a "step." See below for how to write a behavioral objective]


2.Set [hook]





Direction giving [see below]

Checking for understanding

5.Guided Practice


7.Independent Practice

Behavioral Objective format:

Students will demonstrate their [knowledge, understanding, skill, etc.] of/to [concept, skill, etc.] by [activity performed to meet the lesson objective] according to


Example: Each student will demonstrate achievement of the skill of addition of whole numbers by adding columns of figures with paper and pencil accurately nine

out of ten times individually in class.

Four step instructional process:

1.Watch how I do it [modeling]

2.You help me do it (or we do it together) [together]

3.I'll watch you do it or praise, prompt and leave [guided practice]

4.You do it alone [independent practice].

Motivation "TRICKS"

1.Feeling Tone

2.Reward [extrinsic/intrinsic]


4.Level of Concern


•time to produce



5.Knowledge of results


Ways of monitoring:

1.Oral individual

2.Oral together

3.Visual answers, e.g., "thumbs"


5.Task Performance

6.Group sampling

Questioning Guidelines:

1.Place signal [get their attention], then ask question

2.Ask question before designating the person to answer

3.Do not repeat nor rephrase the student's response. May ask for agreement by class or for others to respond. [GESA suggests that you should explain why the answer is good, however. ]

4.Ask question then wait for 50% of hands [or "bright eyes," knowing looks]

5.Never ask a question of a student who you know cannot answer.

6.If the student is confused or can't answer, calmly repeat the same question or give a direct clue.

Retention, Reinforcement

1.Meaning/understanding (the most effective way to learn)

2.Degree of original learning. Learn it well the first time. [And don't practice it wrong!]

3.Feeling tone. [positive or negative will work but negative has some undesirable side effects.]

4.Transfer [emphasize similarities for positive transfer and differences where there might be an incorrect transfer.] [See Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational

Objectives for levels of learning. Transfer implies all of the higher levels. See Barak Rosenshine re. decontextualizing following this summary of the "Hunter Model"--which is essential for effective transfer of knowledge and skills to the real world.]

5.Schedule of Practice. [Mass the practice at first, then create a regular follow-up schedule.

Creating Directions:

1.Break down into parts/steps.

2.Give only three at a time, one if the behavior is new.

3.Delay giving instructions until just before the activity.

4.Give directions in the correct sequence.

5.Plan dignified help for those who don't tune in. [no put-downs]

6.Give directions visually as well as orally (Visual representation of the task) [cf. Fred Jones' VIP]

Giving Directions:

Give the planned directions [creation above].

Check the students' understanding ["Any questions?" does not check understanding.

Have a student model the behavior. [I.e, on the board or orally.]

If needed, remediate and recheck. [It is essential that students do not practice error.]

The Madeline Hunter "Seven Step" lesson design may be used for more than just direct instruction in the behavioral mode. It can be used as a shell for any instructional lesson or unit.

One use in an inquiry mode suggested by Dr. Hunter appeared in Educational Leadership, December-January 1990-91, pp. 79-80:

"Anticipatory set and objective: Let's review the procedure in making slides because today you'll be making your own slides to be used in developing a hypothesis toexplain_________ and support your conclusions....

Objective: Today your group will work with magnets to see how many generalizations you can develop andsupport...

Input: Remember what you've learned about modifying only one variable at a time, observing results carefully and checking whether or not the data

supportyour hypothesis. Your information today will be derived from your own observations while you experiment with these materials.... (Input can come from

observation, experimentation, computers, films, videos, books, etc., not just from teachers.)

Modeling: Observe what I do, and be ready to state whether my

conclusions are valid or invalid, and why....

Checking for understanding: Look at your data to determine and be ready to state which could be used either to support or refute yourhypothesis....

Guided or monitored practice: I'll be circulating among your lab groups. Signal me if you have questions or need assistance.... Independent practice:Identify a question that you have about___________. Then design and conduct an experiment (alone/ group) that would answer your question...."

Not each of the "seven steps" need be in every lesson nor should every lesson be based on the seven steps; however,the seven steps make a good check list of elements in planning a lesson. The instructional purpose and the best way to involve the learner are the guides for what to choose in planning a lesson.




Decontextualization for transfer and general application

Barak Rosenshine, in a presentation to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Spring 1990, reported on recent research on direct

instruction. Direct instruction (as addressed by Rosenshine) applies to skills, not to the teaching of content.

Most of the research on teaching effectiveness has been on the teaching of well-structured skills: how to add, how to focus a microscope. His new work addresses

research on how effective teachers teach less-structured skills: how to summarize, how to take notes, how to ask appropriate questions,

etc. Other continua that are similar/parallel to well structured-less structured are: explicit-implicit, algorithm-heuristic, and concrete-abstract.

The strategies he has recently reported provide scaffolds for learning the less-structured skills. They:

Regulate the difficulty [escalate after learner gets it]

Anticipate difficult areas [then provide lots of support]

Model: talk out loud about the process you are going through.

Provide procedural facilitators [procedural facilitators are to content as advance organizers are to process]

Provide appropriate student practice in varied contexts.

All of these apply to the teaching of well-structured skills as well but they are specifically indicated for the teaching of less structured skills: things for which

discrete procedural steps are hard to identify. They are less relevant to the teaching of content because prior/background knowledge is key to the teaching of


Learning takes place in the zone of proximal development [ZPD] where the student's development is advanced enough for the pupil to learn but will need

help to get there.

A scaffold[outline, model, visual instruction plan (VIP), diagram, or figure that provides an image to hang ideas on] makes it easier for the learner to "get it" in

developmental skills subjects where background knowledge is not key and so is not applicable for non-progressive content like social studies or literature. ZPD is

not critical for most content in English or social studies but is more so in science or math. [Note: writing an essay, at least in the initial learning stages, is a

less-structured skill that has steps that can be taught, e.g., start with an attention-grabber, then a topic sentence, then a statement followed by supporting

information, then another statement with support, then a third statement with support, then a summary statement tying the three statements to the topic.]

Most things in math and science, especially skills, are taught in a context. For transfer to broader applicability it is necessary to decontextualize the learning.

One way to do this is in guided practice by giving attention to decontextualizing the skill by providing lots of varied practice and spaced practice. [Ed.note: And to

have students manipulate the ideas/skills, e.g., "Have you ever seen something like this down town?" or "How many ways can you think of to use this

concept/skill?" or "Can you explain how you arrived at that answer" (metacognition).]

[Ed. note: It is likely that decontextualization of learning is the most important and least practiced function of teaching for latter application. The lack of transfer of knowledge/skills to "real life" is likely the main reason why graduates do so poorly on state-wide and national tests [even when they "know" the answers: the questions aren't asked in the context in which they were learned. It is important that we present and re-represent the material to be learned in as many different ways/contexts as we can...and at the higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.]


Return to the top of this page

Return to Classroom Observation

Go back to Class handouts, models, keys, etc.

Go back to index