(Part 1) Coming back to Liz's question at the end of her post, How congruent is [Whole Brain Teaching] with Direct Instruction, I would have to answer: Not.
The WBT people have adapted some ideas from DI and other sources (Peer-Assisted Learning, Kagan's Cooperative Learning, Fred Jones' Positive Classroom Instruction, Precision Teaching and still more). However, they have put their own spin on all of these so their variants differ in essence as well as in details from the originals.
Take unison responding -- something that is a prominent feature of DI programs at all levels. It is never used in DI as a "management" tool, nor as a rah-rah way to "pump up" the kids or manipulate them. The script, with its unison responses, is carefully researched to ensure clear presentation -- the exact wording, examples and non-examples to ensure than 95% of students will grasp the concept or skill being taught the first time, with practice to mastery built in over a spaced continuum of lessons. Unison responses are an empirically validated way of ensuring participation of all students, instant feedback to the teacher as to hope well the students understand or remember the presentation (if there are errors it is the teacher's responsibility to loop back and re-teach an item until all students can respond correctly. Individuals who make an error are not singled out, but are monitored closely and if additional practice is required for one or two, that is arranged separately so that the dignity of the student is always preserved.)
This I found an important distinction between true DI and WBT -- Engelmann (in his writings, his presentations, and his videoed interactions with children in all settings) is extremely respectful of the dignity of the learner. While he can be funny and show a humorous side (mostly at his own expense), I cannot imagine him ever presenting a task to students and then (as in the 4th grade critical thinking video) asking them to "beg me to let you do it." Even if in jest or in a good-hearted spirit, I found asking students to plead and beg en masse to be disturbing and degrading, however well-intentioned. The kids seemed to go along with it, which is even more disturbing. Why should children have to beg their teacher to engage in a valuable learning activity?
Another fundamental difference between DI and WBT is the principle of parsimony. Engelmann is very explicit in emphasizing the need for instruction to be parsimonious--- to contain nothing extraneous, to include the minimum verbiage needed for clear communication, to require only the amount of practice needed to mastery -- no more and no less. Extraneous yakkety-yak, whether by teacher or students, is a no-go.
It would be completely alien to DI to have the teacher explain a new concept to the class, then ask the STUDENTS to explain it to each other. It's the teacher's responsibility to ensure the students grasp it, not the responsibility of the student's partner. All the scripted cheers and call-and-response stuff in WBT is totally foreign to the DI principle of parsimony, and to the concept of respect for the learner as well.
Only the instructional language in DI is scripted; the teacher is trained to give lots of positive feedback (at a ratio of 5:1 or better), and to teach in an animated and engaging manner, but how he or she does so is an individual matter. This means the teacher can adapt praise and encouragement to his/her own style and the culture of the community or classroom.
Also, DI has the scripted unison-response component to every lessons, but that is only a part of the lesson. All lessons also include individual work, sometimes partner work, sometimes small-group work, so children are not being overwhelmed by all the noise and demands to produce a response. DI makes tracking points an optional feature, but does not suggest extrinsic rewards for these (it suggests they could be tied into normal student evaluation), although teachers may use them in this way if they feel it is necessary, as is sometimes the case.
Finally, DI fundamentally differs from the example of WBT that I saw in several videos, in that it regularly monitors progress in an empirical manner so that the teacher knows what every child is learning, and ensures mastery through a research-based set of criteria at multiple points.
Although the program itself is very tightly crafted and leaves no room for "creativity," the teacher's creativity can blossom in its application and in response to the needs of the individual learners as the program moves along. In fact, it frees the teacher to be more attentive to kids' responses and to devise ways to help them overcome whatever hurdles present in their path. Not needing to re-invent the wheel in every lesson, the teacher can truly engage with and pay attention to each individual student s/he teaches.
(part 3) To be fair to WBT, some of the videoed activities I saw were pretty well done and are based on sound precedents. The one on the Speed Read 100 or something was a good example of peer-assisted learning under a teacher's direction, with children encouraged to help each other (within a pre-trained format), to aspire to beating their own record and to celebrate small steps forward.
If it weren't for the other accoutrements, I would have given this activity two thumbs up, but it was pretty good. I would recommend Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (see Sopris West for some examples for the primary classroom) as it has a positive effect in several areas, including achievement, student motivation, building classroom community, student self-confidence, and so forth. Similarly, some of the Kagan strategies, such as Think-Pair-Share and Turn and Talk are also well-validated empirically but do not need to be carried out in the chaotic manner we saw in the videos.
Another point: attention signals, such as Class-Yes! are a valuable tool in any classroom. What bothered me was not that they used it, but how it was used -- in a theatrical, almost buffoonish, hyperdramatic way. Learning can be fun and engaging, but it shouldn't be a joke, a circus or a day at the football stadium.
For primary kids, a good attention signal is (teacher says, in calm rhythmic voice) "1,2,3, eyes on me!" Children stop where they are, turn and face the teacher and clap. "1,2, eyes on you!" This is used in a purposeful manner, when something needs to be said to the whole group but it is not necessary for everyone to go back to their seat as if for a lesson. There's nothing manipulative about it, either. Class-Yes! in a straightforward way would be fine for older students, I think. I myself would not allow yelling and silliness to accompany it. We want to keep the focus on learning.
To that end, gestures can be very useful. A popular and effective program for K in the UK, Jolly Phonics, uses hand signals (called "actions") to teach the letter-sound correspondences. I can imagine similar applications at other levels. These have at least two positive benefits: they give the wiggly, energetic student an opportunity to engage in a physically active way, and they provide the teacher with instant formative assessment data on how well the lesson is progressing.
.....I doubt there are any videos out there that show DI and WBT and contrast the differences. WBT is a recent development and that explains why ... there isn't any longitudinal data on how effective it is in ensuring student learning. As for videos exhibiting DI, most that I have seen consist exclusively of video of the teacher presentation (the scripted part) since that is the most difficult to learn to do well. Signaling, pacing and knowing when to loop back and review are the hardest elements to master....
Since basic differences between the two lie in underlying philosophy and curriculum design, those wouldn't be apparent anyway. However, I did note that none of the WBT videos I saw consisted of a teacher presentation that appeared "scripted," i.e. specific language from the teacher, requiring a specific instruction-related response from students, over a period of several minutes. The "scripting" in the WBT videos consisted of management call-and-response practices, not scripted presentation of concepts and content.
Also, I don't know of any DI videos that include the whole lesson -- the non-teacher-directed parts. They don't depict the independent work period, student partner work, or small group/team work. These are an essential element of every lesson, as is the "work check:" students and teacher review and correct the independent work at the end of the lesson, to ensure students can clarify any misunderstanding before going on to the next step.
As for preschool, DI does offer specific programs for that level, most notably in language skills and verbal reasoning. They don't recommend moving on to reading instruction until children are proficient in the language skills, which include making comparisons, understanding and using if/then statements, applying a rule (if all birds have feathers, and Paco is a bird, what else do we know about Paco?).
(2 of 2) The early phases of the reading program for this level teach a lot of the phonological processing skills (blending and segmenting sounds, sequencing,left-right progression) needed for successful reading later on, and introduce only very regular grapheme/phoneme correspondences, in a special orthography modified to be less confusing to very young children whose visual perception and visual efficiency skills are less well-developed.
The letters are darker, bigger and "fatter," with distinct differences between the u and n, the p and q, the b and d, so as to prevent children's confusing them. Visually similar letters are not taught together, but presented one at a time, and when one of the pair is introduced, it is taught to mastery before the other is introduced. The program for 4-year-olds moves quite slowly, and many elements are taught in a playful or gamelike way, with lessons expected to take only about 15 minutes. So it is unlikely a child would be "unready" (after completing the language sequence), and s/he would not be pressured to move too fast.
There is very little written component at this stage; the seatwork consists often of coloring, tracing or making discriminations, such as crossing out an item that doesn't belong. These provide short, frequent opportunities to develop graphomotor skills, but not to the point of frustration.
DI is most valuable at the preschool level for children with a less-advantaged language background, though in Engelmann's early work his comparison group of "middle class" kids took off like a rocket with DI and were able to do very advanced work in reading and math by age 6, as well as verbal reasoning skills that Piaget thought impossible before age 11 or 12. He talks about that in one of his books; I'll see about finding an appropriate link....