Theory into practice
The impact of Rosenshine’s principles in the classroom.
After completing a stimulating MA at UCL, Adam Seymour was able to explore the possible impact of Barak Rosenshines ‘10 Principles’ in real classrooms with his team at La Côte International School.
Two-year follow up
It’s one thing to complete a Masters, but quite another thing to put new ideas into practice. I wanted to investigate further the extent to which Direct Instructional approaches could be beneficial to students, then realistically implemented with colleagues across our school. I had been particularly influenced by the ideas of Barak Rosenshine’s (2012) and felt that they could be of real benefit to our students at La Côte International School. The discussion started and it was decided to look at the ideas in depth. Over a two year period we have been intrigued and confronted while also committed to understanding the mechanics and intrinsic value of his ideas in practice.
In a long career, Rosenshine (1930 – 2017) identified seventeen instructional approaches by teachers which he regarded as highly effective and from which he distilled his ‘10 Principles of Effective Instruction’:
- Daily review.
- Present new material using small steps.
- Ask questions.
- Provide models.
- Guide student practice.
- Check for student understanding.
- Obtain a high success rate.
- Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks.
- Independent practice.
- Weekly and monthly review.
What we wanted to know was which of these principles might be particularly effective in the context of our school. We began by sharing Roseshine’s principles with colleagues and brainstorming/pooling initial ideas relating to direct instruction, defining what it might mean in a classroom framework. Through teacher voice, feedback and professional development sessions, we sought to evaluate the tangible learning benefits of the principles which we could see being put into practice.
Outcome 1: the importance of modelling and guided student practice
We had no doubt that Principles 4 and 5 were particularly important, and that providing models and guided student practice have a really important impact on learning. Head of Science, Dean Taylor, has long been applying a visualizer to provide explicit models when teaching Physics. One key benefit for learning was the way this approach eased the load on a student’s working memory when they were dealing with a new concept, reducing the likelihood of misconceptions (Kirschner, P, A, et al 2006). Not only that, but by showing models and guiding student practice we found that it aided students’ lateral thinking and helped them engage with more complex problems. Dean identifies and highlights three techniques relating to his explicit instruction while using a visualizer, which he believes to be particularly valuable:
- Modelling and thinking aloud while demonstrating how to solve a problem;
- Guiding students as they develop independence;
- Giving words such as “who,” “where,” “why,” and “how” to help them begin a question.
The use of the visualiser in his lessons allows him to project an image so that students could see worked examples being worked through on a big screen. Using a visualiser is not new, but the benefits are astronomical for student learning outcomes when linked explicitly to Rosenshine’s principles.
Other methods of delivery also work well: using mirrored screens to share model answers and scaffolds provide key guided practice.
Subsequently, students were able to quickly identify key misconceptions and key areas for development again helping to reduce cognitive overload – or put simply, taking the pressure off their finite working memory when dealing with concepts for the first time.
(For more about Cognitive Load Theory see Steven Garnett’s article in the September 2020 edition of ITM: https://consiliumeducation.com/itm/2020/09/26/cognitive-load-theory-in-the-classroom/)
Outcome 2: the importance of the daily review.
One of the most consistent and impactful uses of Rosenshine’s principles amongst colleagues was the practice of a regular lesson review. In effect they were using the first of the ten principles – the ‘daily review’. Building on this approach, we have developed lesson planning to ensure the daily review was consistently used and fully integrated across the curriculum, beginning lessons with a five-to-eight-minute review of the last lesson(s).
Previously on . . . .
One way to identify and understand the benefits of daily review is the ‘box set’ analogy which links in perfectly within the parameters of Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction. When we watch ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘24’, ‘Stranger Things’ or any series, we tend to get a short recap at the beginning of each episode which helps us (the public) to remember key protagonists, story lines and so forth. This in turn helps you to engage with the story and also imagine a variety of possible outcomes. This fits perfectly with our approach in the classroom: students who engage with short reviews of past content and key skills are more likely to stimulate and spark their schema of thinking. Helping them to remember key information enables them to understand what is going to happen subsequently.
Work in progress
These principles have been firmly adopted and integrated into everyday Secondary teaching and learning here at La Côte International School. Convinced of the use of Rosenshines’ framework, we now continue to evaluate its impact on our students, in conjunction with further research and meta-analysis all of which fuels a continued love of teaching.
Adam Seymour is Assistant Headteacher (Teaching and Learning) at La Côte International School
Feature Image: La Côte International School, Aubonne, Switzerland
All images kindly provided by Adam.
Kirschner, P, A. Sweller, J. And Clark, R.E. (2006) Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential and Inquiry-Based Teaching, Educational Psychologist, 41:2, 75-86
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Rosenshine, B. (1986). The Elementary School Journal, Vol. 83, No. 4, Special Issue: Research on Teaching (Mar., 1983), pp. 335-351 Published by: The University of Chicago Press