April 7, 2022

This week at the Education Think Tank we took a look at the Thales Academy in the United States.  They opened their first campus in 2007 and now have 12 campuses across three states.  Thales Academy believes that a school should accomplish three main objectives: teach students knowledge, teach them how to think on their own, and give them the tools they need to reach their greatest potential.

Through the use of Direct Instruction and a classical curriculum that embodies traditional American values, Thales provides a rigorous academic environment that fosters ethical behavior, critical thinking, virtuous leadership, lifelong learning, and truth seeking with a firm foundation in cognitive, non-cognitive, and technical skills.

So, what is Direct instruction?

DI is a scientifically proven approach to teaching that completely takes any guessing out of the learning process.  It is carefully planned, fast-paced and used in the Pre-K–5 grades so that by the time a student reaches middle school, they have mastered all the foundational skills required to be successful in their higher learning. To prove it, DI consistently yields excellent results in student performance and skills, effectively teaching all types of learners at all ability levels.

Students entering Thales Academy take a placement test to determine appropriate placement in the core subjects of Reading, Math, Spelling and Language Arts and then 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 and formal assessments are given every 5 to 10 lessons to determine full comprehension.  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.

So, why use Direct Instruction?

  • Mastery: Kind of like a video game, all students must master a concept before moving on.  They believe that concepts are foundational building blocks that expand on each other.
  • Retention: Concepts are taught in a spiral format; previously learned topics are woven through subsequent lessons 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 experience mastery which leads to growing confidence as they earn their own success. Students take responsibility for their learning and pride in themselves as they see the value of focusing their energy and applying themselves.
  • 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.
  • 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.

I encourage you to “like” and subscribe to our YouTube channel and take some time to watch this zoom meeting where we learn about Thales Academy and Direct Instruction.

Click here to see this Education Think Tank zoom meeting:

Once again, thank you to all who attended.  It is always such a pleasure for me each week to meet the new people joining us for the first time and to see all those that make time each week to come back and take part in our Education Think Tank.  You are all truly blessings to me.  Together we can make a difference.

Til’ we meet again,

Norma Jean Maxwell
Life Force Canada
Education Think Tank Facilitator