Barak Rosenshine’s review of pedagogical practice and literature has been touted as the seminal work on education best practice and it seeks to outline 17 key ideas to improve outcomes for learners. These have been grouped into ten different areas. So here’s a summary:
1. Daily review. An important component of instruction. Reinforces neural networks established during learning and transfer to long term memory for easy retrieval. This frees up the ‘working memory’.
2. New material in small steps. With limited capacity for the working memory, we can only handle a few bits of information at a time. Avoiding overload and presenting material in small chunks is best.
3. Ask questions. The most important tool in a teachers kitbag. It demonstrates the amount of information learnt during a lesson.
4. Provide models. Students need cognitive support to help them learn how to approach and solve problems. Modelling from the teacher, going through worked examples and thinking out loud really helps.
5. Guide student practice. Students need time to rephrase, elaborate and interrogate their thinking and understanding to allow processing of new material. The most successful teachers build in time for this.
6. Check student understanding. Less successful teachers don’t probe deeply enough into a student’s understanding. If learners have no questions, then this can be seen as a proxy for learning and understanding. All students must be checked.
7. Obtain a high success rate. A success rate of around 80% has been found to be optimal, showing that students are being challenged enough and not just walking through a test.
8. Scaffolding for difficult tasks. Use of modelling, structure strips, writing frames and checklists for self-assessment can really help scaffold and develop deeper understanding.
9. Independent practice. Using the model: I do, we do, you do, independent practice allows students to feel successful and understand the struggles of learning. Overlearning is a necessary process for new material to be recalled automatically.
10. Weekly and monthly review. Interleaving and breaking up routines supports retention and retrieval. The more this review process happens the easier it is to connect new learning with prior knowledge.