Applying Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction to Online Classrooms

Rosenshine’s ten principles of instruction have been written about many times and are used by many schools to inform their teaching and learning. If this is new to you, you can find the original article here and some good blog posts here and here (from Tom Sherrington and Oliver Caviglioli). And for another view point, check out this post from Zoe Enser. 

This post is not an attempt to critique them or explain them. Instead, it is about providing some simple ideas as to how you might use these principles in an online classroom. By online classroom, I mean an environment where you are video calling students so they can hear and see you in real time, using software like Zoom and Google Meet. You can read more about choosing an online classroom here

I am not going to deal with every principle, as some are more about how you design the instruction (E.g. chunking) which should be no different if offline or online. After all, you are likely to teach the same material in the same order. So, here are some ideas below for some of the principles that I think are relevant (or have a different application) in an online classroom – please do comment with any more ideas that you might have and I’ll add them in with credit! 

Daily Review

Daily review can strengthen recall and can lead to fluent recall. 

  • Start online lessons with a google quiz that you can share in the chat function that most meeting software has. Students complete individually and you will see their submissions. 
  • Ask students to write one thing they remember from the previous lesson in the chat function
  • Use an online whiteboard (One Note works well, or just use the in-built whiteboard on your online classroom software), tablet and stylus to do a real time brainstorm (list, mindmap, concept map etc) of previous content. Ask students to share one by one to add to the brainstorm. 

Ask lots of questions

Asking questions and crucially, checking the response of all students helps students practice new information and connect it to prior learning. 

  • Pose a question in the online chat function of your online classroomand ask all students to respond
  • Use breakout rooms (on Zoom but not Google Meet) to get students into pairs to discuss a question. Then bring them back and ask each pair to share their thinking. Effectively this is Think-Pair-Share. 

Provide Models and Worked Examples

Models and worked examples help students learn to solve problems faster. 

  • Use an online whiteboard (like OneNote) and a tablet with stylus to go through worked examples or model problem solving. You will need to share your tablet screen with the class. You can also think aloud as you do this. 

Guide Student practice

Rephrasing, elaborating and summarising new material helps store it in long term memory. 

  • Ask students to write short summaries of what they’ve just been taught in the chat. Ask them to elaborate. 
  • Ask lots of questions to students and get them to answer in the chat

Check for Student Understanding

Helps the students learn the material with fewer errors. 

  • Ask, “What questions do you have?” and ask every student to write at least one question in the chat or get them to add them to a padlet. 

Require and Monitor Independent Practice

Students need extensive, successful, independent practice in order for skills and knowledge to become automatic. When students become automatic in a domain, they can devote more time to comprehension, application and developing new understandings.

  • After online guided practice (e.g. modelling, worked examples, explanations etc), put students into smaller break out rooms to practice some material independently. Check in on each student during this time (if your check in lasts more than 30 seconds, then you might want to think about the effectiveness of the previous guided practice). 

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