Applying Rosenshine to the secondary classroom

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In 2012, Barack Rosenshine published the Principles of Instruction: a set of 10 research-based principles of instruction, along with suggestions for classroom practice. The principles come from three sources: (a) research in cognitive science, (b) research on master teachers, and (c) research on cognitive supports.

Principle 1: Begin a lesson with a short review of previous learning: Daily review can strengthen previous learning and can lead to fluent recall.

Principle 2. Present new material in small steps with student practice after each step. Only present small amounts of new material at any time, and then assist students as they practice this material.

Principle 3. Ask a large number of questions and check the responses of all students: Questions help students practice new information and connect new material to their prior learning.

Principle 4. Provide models: Providing students with models and worked examples can help them learn to solve problems faster.

Principle 5. Guide student practice: Successful teachers spend more time guiding students’ practice of new material.

Principle 6. Check for student understanding: Checking for student understanding at each point can help students learn the material with fewer errors.

Principle 7. Obtain a high success rate: It is important for students to achieve a high success rate during classroom instruction.

Principle 8. Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks: The teacher provides students with
temporary supports and scaffolds to assist them when they learn difficult tasks.

Principle 9. Require and monitor independent practice: Students need extensive, successful, independent practice in order for skills and knowledge to become automatic.

Principle 10. Engage students in weekly and monthly review: Students need to be involved in extensive practice in order to develop well-connected and automatic knowledge.

Rosenshine’s 10 Principles of Instruction offer a helpful structure for teachers to use in planning and delivering effective teaching. In his report, Rosenshine (2012) explains that the principles are drawn from three sources:

  • ‘research in cognitive science’
  • ‘research on the classroom practices of master teachers’
  • ‘research on cognitive supports to help students learn complex tasks’ 

While the principles apply to classroom teaching generally, their application in different secondary subjects will vary depending on the nature of the knowledge being taught and on how many lessons pupils have in a subject per week. Testing as a form of retrieval, for example, is more appropriate for subjects where a foundation of factual knowledge is necessary for analysis, such as history, and may be less appropriate for practical subjects that emphasise developing and practising a skill, such as art. Furthermore, guiding student practice will look very different depending on if it is a quadratic equation in maths, or a trampoline half twist in PE. As such, this blog will draw upon examples from various subjects to explore how each principle can be utilised practically in the secondary classroom.

This content was originally produced as part of the Accelerate programme, a Department for Education-funded early career teacher programme designed and delivered by Education Development Trust with the Chartered College of Teaching. It is used here with kind permission of Education Development Trust.

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