This is the second instalment of my thinking on Barak Rosenshine's principle's of instruction. You can read Part 1 here.
As previously shared, Barak Rosenshine's work has contributed immensely to the world of education, his research has a clear focus on learning and teaching; how teachers instruct pupils, how pupils attain and achieve and how teachers perform. After reading his article on 10 research-based principles of instruction, I thought to myself that if I were to implement some of this work into what I do in the classroom, it could definitely make me a better teacher.
I am going to take a snapshot and explore some of his principles over the next few weeks. All ten are definitely worth looking into, so take some time and read his complete article at your own speed now in American Educator.
SIX - Check for student understanding, this will help students learn new material with fewer errors.
I am a fan of crime drama on TV. Over the years there have been many detectives that have graced our screens and worked their way across a library of books. John Luther, Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Inspector Morse, Veronica Mars and even Scooby Doo are amongst the greats. I've always fancied myself as a bit of a detective but found teaching as a higher calling. One that I just couldn't resist. However, Rosenshine's principles might have just allowed me to realise my dreams (whilst also still ply my craft in the classroom)!
Classroom teachers need to be detectives. Checking for student understanding needs to be our bread and butter... Rosenshine explains that during his observations less effective teachers simply asked pupils "Are there any questions?", they then simply assumed students understood or had learned the material and continued on with the learning. NO, no, no, no and no. I am just imagining Sherlock Holmes asking the evil villain if he had committed the crime, the villain says no, so Holmes acceptedly nods his head and continues on his merry way to the next suspect.
This is your opportunity to be a detective in the classroom, and the best detective work involves good questioning.
Effective classroom practice should mean that you ask questions, different types of questions, many questions, ask students to summarise what they have learnt up to that point, ask pupils whether they agree or disagree with their peers, why they are taking that stance or argument, create wobble, use minimal encouragers and the list goes on. Rosenshine explains that this type of checking has two purposes.
- Answering the questions might cause the students to elaborate on the material that they have learned and augment connections to other learning in their long term memory.
- This will alert the teacher to when parts of the material need to be retaught.