Principles of (English) Instruction

This is a meditation (guided, ha ha) about the article ‘Principles of Instruction: Research-Based Strategies That All Teachers Should Know’ by Barak Rosenshine and how I might be able to apply its ideas in an English classroom.

These are the principles identified by Rosenshine:

  1. Begin a lesson with a short review of previous learning.
  2. Present new material in small steps with student practice after each step.
  3. Ask a large number of questions and check the responses of all students.
  4. Provide models.
  5. Guide student practice.
  6. Check for student understanding.
  7. Obtain a high success rate.
  8. Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks.
  9. Require and monitor independent practice.
  10. Engage students in weekly or monthly review.

He then goes into further detail about each of those steps. It’s very easy to read. But as an English teacher, I would really like to see some examples of what this would look like in my subject. I want a worked example! Aside from reading the excellent blogs of Jo Facer, Katie Ashford and Anthony Radice, I have nothing specific to go on: most of the explicit teaching models out there are for Maths or Science. None of this is Rosenshine’s fault or problem, of course. This is just my wanting all the hard work to be done for me.

Okay, so… the first thing I’m going to do is restate the ten principles, so that I have a better chance of remembering them. You know the drill: put it in your long term memory, so that it’s not clogging up your valuable and limited short term memory.

  1. Start classes with revision.
  2. Small step -> practise. Repeat.
  3. Many questions; 100% response.
  4. Model.
  5. Guide whole class student practice from the front.
  6. Constantly check understanding.
  7. First master; then move on.
  8. Use scaffolds.
  9. Independent practice should follow guided practice.
  10. Build-in weekly and monthly revision.

How many of these do I already do? I’m going to write some posts looking at each of these in turn. Small steps. Practise. Repeat.


5 thoughts on “Principles of (English) Instruction

  1. Thanks Felicity. It’s wonderful to see another voice blogging on these ideas. Rosenshine’s paper should be a must read for all new teachers, in my opinion. I hope to read many more posts by you and have more Aussie teachers joining in these important discussions..


    1. Thanks, Tempe! You are my first commenter. I hope to write more posts when not swamped with marking and prep. Thanks for reading! You should write your own blog – I’d love to read it.


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