Tag Archives: modelling

10 Research Based Principles of Instruction for Teachers

I recently read an American Educator article from 2012 by Barak Rosenshine that set out 10 principles of instruction informed by research, with subsequent suggestions for implementing them in the classroom. It was also one of the articles cited in the “What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research” by Rob Coe et al and provided further elaboration on one of their six components of great teaching thought to have strong evidence of impact on student outcomes, i.e. quality of instruction.

Here’s my summary of the key messages from each of the 10 principles.

1: Begin with a short review of prior learning


Students in experimental classes where daily review was used had higher achievement scores. A 5-8 minute review of prior learning was said to strengthen connections between material learned and improve recall so that it became effortless and automatic, thus freeing up working memory.

Daily review could include, for example:

  • Homework
  • Previous material
  • Key vocabulary
  • Problems where there were errors
  • Further practise of knowledge, concepts and skills

2: Present new material in small amounts or steps


Working memory is small and can only cope with small chunks at a time. Too much information presented at once overloads it and can confuse students, who won’t be able to process it. Sufficient time needs to be allocated to processes that will allow students to work with confidence independently. More effective teachers in the study dealt with the limitation of working memory by presenting only small amounts of new material at a time.

3: Ask a large number of questions and check the responses of all students


Questions allow students to practise new material and connect new material to prior learning. They also help teachers to determine how well material has been learned and whether additional teaching is required. The most effective teachers asked students to explain the process they used and how they answered the question, as well as answering the question posed.

Strategies suggested for checking the responses of all students included asking students to:

  • Tell their answers to a partner
  • Write a short summary and share it with a partner
  • Write their answers on a mini-white board or similar, followed by “show me”
  • Raise their hands if they know the answer or agree with someone else

4: Provide models

chemical modelStudents require cognitive support to reduce the cognitive load on their working memory and help them to solve problems faster. Examples include:

  • Providing clearly laid out, step-by-step worked examples
  • Identifying and explaining the underlying principles of each step
  • Modelling the use of prompts
  • Working together with students on tasks
  • Providing partially completed problems

5: Guide student practice

guidanceNew material will quickly be forgotten without sufficient rehearsal. Rehearsal helps students to access information quickly and easily when required. Additional time needs to be spent by students summarising, rephrasing or elaborating on new material so that it can become:

  • Stored in long-term memory
  • Easily retrieved
  • Used for new learning and problem solving

The quality of storage relies on:

  • Student engagement with the material
  • Providing feedback to the students to correct errors and ensure misconceptions aren’t stored

The rehearsal process can be facilitated and enhanced by:

  • Questioning students
  • Asking students to summarise the main points
  • Supervising students during practice

In one study, the more successful teachers spent more time guiding practice, for example by working through initial problems at the board whilst explaining the reasons for each step or asking students to work out problems at the board and discuss their procedures. This also served as a way of providing multiple models for students to allow them to be better prepared for independent work.

6: Check for student understanding

thinking aloud

More effective teachers frequently checked for understanding. Checking for understanding identifies whether students are developing misconceptions as well as providing some of the processing required to move new learning into long-term memory.

The purpose of checking is twofold:

  1. Answering questions might cause students to elaborate and strengthen connections to prior learning in their long term-memory
  2. The answers provided by students alert the teacher to parts of the material that may need reteaching

A number of strategies can be used to check for understanding, e.g:

  • Questioning
  • Asking students to think aloud as they work
  • Asking students to defend a position to others

7: Obtain a high success rate

80percentWhen students learn new material, they construct meaning in their long-term memory. Errors can be made though, as they attempt to be logical in areas where their background knowledge may still be weak. It was suggested that the optimal success rate for fostering student achievement is approximately 80%. Furthermore, it was said that achieving a success rate of 80% showed that students were learning the material, whilst being suitably challenged. High success rates during guided practice led to higher success rates during independent work. If practice did not have a high success rate, there was a chance that errors were being practised and learned, which then become difficult to overcome. The development of misconceptions can be limited by breaking material down into small steps, providing guided practice and checking for understanding.

8: Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks

Building site scaffoldingScaffolds are temporary supports that help students to learn difficult tasks, which are gradually withdrawn with increasing competence. The use of scaffolds and models, aided by a master, helps students to serve their “cognitive apprenticeship” and learn strategies that allow them to become independent.

Scaffolds include:

  • Thinking aloud by the teacher to reveal the thought processes of an expert and provide mental labels during problem solving
  • Providing poor examples to correct, as well as expert models
  • Tools such as cue cards or checklists
  • Prompts such as “Who?” “Why?” and “How? that enable students to ask questions as they work
  • Box prompts to categorise and elaborate on the main ideas
  • A model of the completed task for students to compare their own work to

9: Require and monitor independent practice

practiceIndependent practice follows guided practice and involves students working alone and practising new material. Sufficient practice is necessary for students to become fluent and automatic. This avoids overcrowding working memory, and enables more attention to be devoted to comprehension and application.

Independent practice should involve the same material as guided practice, or with only slight variation. The research showed that optimal teacher-student contact time during supervision was 30 seconds or less, with longer explanations being required an indication that students were practising errors.

10: Engage students in weekly and monthly review

calendar reviewAs students rehearse and review information, connections between ideas in long-term memory are strengthened. The more information is reviewed, the stronger these connections become. This also makes it easier to learn new information, as prior knowledge becomes more readily available for use. It also frees up space in working memory, as knowledge is organised into larger, better-connected patterns.

Practical suggestions for implementation include:

  • Review the previous week’s work at the beginning of the following week
  • Review the previous month’s work at the beginning of every fourth week
  • Test following a review
  • Weekly quizzes

The full report by Barak Rosenshine: Principles of Instruction – Research based strategies that all teachers should know is available here.


Teach Like a Champion: Part 1 – Introducing TLaC

This post was written by our Associate AHT for Pedagogy and Practice, Julie Ryder.

TLaC, PPD and other acronyms……

Staff in our school have been offered a broad range of opportunities to develop as teachers and are able to select areas for their own Personal Practice Development (PPD). You can read all about them towards the end of this post.

One of my main roles is to develop and deliver a rolling CPD programme based on the Teach Like a Champion (TLaC) techniques.  Twenty five colleagues signed up to follow the programme at the start of the year as part of their PPD. Those involved have very differing levels of classroom experience – from NQTs to HODs and AHTs. Despite this, the staff involved are united in their aim to develop as great teachers.

What is TLaC?

At the start of the year I shared some background information about TLaC and Doug Lemov‘s work with Uncommon Schools.

The TLaC programme has a proven track record of transforming students at risk of failure into achievers and believers. It is based on a taxonomy of effective teaching practices and is focused on micro-techniques rather than more generalised strategies, e.g. “questioning”.

Doug became interested in schools serving high need students that were getting the best results. He wanted to identify the teachers in those schools who were doing exceptional work. Directed by the data, Doug sat in the back of these exceptional teachers’ classrooms to observe and identify what they were doing that explained the exceptional results they were getting. As Doug spent more time in these great teachers’ classrooms he began to notice some commonalities: From these he identified a list of techniques which he called The Taxonomy of Effective Teaching Practices.

Doug now leads a team of Uncommon educators continuously studying and describing great teaching – breaking that greatness down into concrete, replicable actions, then designing the training to make it manageable and accessible. The belief is that all teachers can learn the simple, concrete actions that allow the achievement gap to be narrowed – lesson by lesson, classroom by classroom.

As a result of this research of teachers who consistently achieve high outcomes with students, Doug produced the Teach Like a Champion book, which included 49 instructional techniques that outline how superior instruction can overcome socio-economic barriers to student achievement.

Teach like a champion, Lemov

Data suggests that in the UK the achievement gap between pupils of different socio-economic backgrounds is greater than almost all other developed countries. Yet we often encounter the view that certain students have a limit to their achievement. In an ideal classroom, however, no child’s educational success should be limited. Doug suggests that through the introduction of the TLaC techniques, high academic expectations, increased participation and depth of thinking, every student should achieve more.

I explained that the aim of our TLaC programme would be to use some of the techniques as an approach to staff development. It’s about us working together to build systems of classroom culture and instruction.

The Belmont TLaC programme

At the first meeting of our TLaC group in school I asked colleagues to share what they hoped to get out of the sessions. The results were as follows:

TLaC prog expectations

The key messages I see above are linked to teaching strategies that improve student engagement. From my own experience I would wholeheartedly agree that this is exactly how my classroom and lessons have improved. No matter the class, the year group or the lesson time, I expect, and am consistently striving for 100% engagement. Yes, my students are kept on their toes, yes I work really hard to maintain this, yes the pace has increased and yes I am still learning and trying to improve what I do in the classroom! Just like the rest of the TLaC group, I want to get better, I want to raise students’ expectations of their achievement and I want the support of regular PPD to discuss, try out, and perfect my teaching practice.

Introducing the techniques

I chose to begin with Cold Call and No Opt Out as these techniques are suggested to have the biggest impact in the classroom and improve the culture of expectations more quickly than any other combination.

Cold Call is about engaging students in your lessons. In this technique the intention is to make participation and engagement the expectation and to call on students regardless of whether they have raised their hands.

No Opt Out is about setting high academic expectations. In this technique a questioning sequence that begins with a student who is unwilling or unable to answer ends with that student giving the right answer as often as possible, even if they only repeat it.

Perfect practice makes perfect

We begin by practicing how we will explain to our students what Cold Call is and the expectations from them. The whole idea of meeting as a group is so that we can try ideas and receive feedback: “I like it when……..” and “Next time try…………”

As with everything in our TLaC programme we begin by modelling the practice. Myself and two colleagues recorded a demonstration practice Roll Out Speech and Cold Call. Modelling the practice and showing how receiving critique helps us to get better made it easier to ask others to do the same in our TLaC sessions that followed.

You can view our modelling the practice in the following clip:

Our growing popularity now puts our group at 29, which for practical reasons and time we have split into 2 groups for some of the practice sessions. Over the next four sessions we write, practice, critique and improve our Roll Out Speeches and No Opt Out questioning using resources from the Train the Trainers workshop I attended in London (which you can read about in Part 2).

TLaC workshop 1

TLaC workshop 3

No Opt Out: Staff engaged and enjoying working together to share, advise and improve their teaching practice, what more could you ask for in a PPD session?

Coming next……

Part 2 – Train the Trainers workshop in London with Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway and Colleen Driggs

Part 3 – Belmont TLaC programme update

Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College and Teach Like a Champion Field Guide: A Practical Resource to Make the 49 Techniques Your Own are also available from our T+L Library.

An Ethic of Excellence

We recently held the first in a series of voluntary curriculum conferences for mid-leaders to share their ideas about what might influence the design of our new post-levels curriculum.

Ideas that were shared during our first meeting:

  • Designing a new English curriculum and post-levels assessment system from scratch (which you can read all about here)
  • An Ethic of Excellence
  • Using cognitive science to inform curriculum design
  • Assessing without levels

Ethic of excellence, Berger

For those of us that have already read ‘An Ethic of Excellence’ by Ron Berger, I’m sure most of us would agree on the deep and lasting impression it left upon us.  For many of us, myself included, it has had a transformational effect on our work as teachers and school leaders.

Here, Head of Performing Arts Laura Jackson, shares her thoughts on the book and how it has influenced her thinking.

“It’s not a quick fix, it’s a way of life”

Ron Berger was an American Elementary School teacher .  He was a craftsman, a carpenter by trade.  He believes that “work of excellence is transformational. Once a student sees that he or she is capable of excellence, that student is never quite the same.”

An Ethic of Excellence

The book is written as a personal account of his findings, more like a story than an academic style book.  In it he talks about the culture he has embedded in his own school and then in others as a consultant – that excellence cannot be achieved first time.

An Archiver of Excellence

Berger collects student work for his portfolio which has been built up over many years.  The sharing of student work for the purposes of modelling and critique is central to his teaching repertoire.  Archived work is shared with students.  It shows development and progression – from first draft to “excellence”.  Students spend time discussing the work of others and receiving critique on their own.

We were then treated to this, now legendary video of Ron Berger in action.  It demonstrates the power of archived work in supporting students to achieve excellence, through the process of critique and re-drafting.

A School Culture of Excellence

The culture we create rests in our community – “in every effective school I’ve seen has a strong sense of community….staff and students in all these settings feel that they are part of something – that they belong.”

Positive Peer Pressure is used to create a safe learning environment, where striving for excellence is encouraged.  Here, the positive critical feedback outlined above is crucial in achieving this.

Bigger is better?  WE ARE LUCKY! “in a small school students and staff are highly accountable – it’s hard for the students to fall through the cracks”  this is a privilege for us – we can make a bigger difference!

Work of Excellence

“We can’t first build up self-esteem and then focus on their work. It is through their own work that their self-esteem will grow.”

Project based learning is at the heart of the curriculum.  The curriculum is “thematic” containing multidisciplinary themes over weeks and even months.  High quality projects are celebrated everywhere so that the ethic, understanding and motivation are there right from the start.

Literacy and numeracy are built in throughout the curriculum – from basic to higher order skills.  Work completed is genuine, of integrity and requires students to carry out their own research.

Assessment is continuous and used to build stronger students.  Multiple drafts of work are the norm.  Critique is used prior to each new draft, which must be:

  • Kind – safety
  • Specific – no wasting time
  • Helpful – to help the individual not the critic

“Students need to know from the outset that quality means rethinking, reworking, and polishing. They need to know that they will be celebrated, not ridiculed, for going back to the drawing board.”

At the end of the year all student work is presented to a panel and made public through exhibitions or performances.  Work is recorded to show the next intake what is expected in a year.  Deadlines must be met – positive pressure is used throughout to ensure excellence.

Teaching of Excellence

The critique process doesn’t just apply to students, however.  Teachers also critique each other’s work, and are expected to present and explain strategies that might be recommended.  Teaching is seen as a craft – and with ‘expert’ status requiring as much as 10000 hours, feedback on practice is welcome and supports improvement.  Relationships are seen as central to getting the best out of each other.

“Teaching isn’t about papers and pencils, it’s about relationships”.

Building strong relationships makes it much easier to ask ourselves and each other the fundamental question:

“How do we make the work stronger?”


To finish, Laura shared some of the ways in which the book has already impacted on her practice:

  • Critique – first draft listening marked by students and re-written.  This may take time away from “music” but when doing a similar task for the first time several weeks later, there was a marked improvement in first drafts.
  • Excellence – Displaying the work for others to see, collecting a portfolio of “excellence” as a hard copy and a visual file to show students and staff.
  • Adding context / value – Year 9 “showcase” performance – showing their best examples of performance work, Year 7 “Creative Arts Celebration Evening”
  • Collecting examples of excellent work, evidence of excellent performances and practice work to display.  Once it’s set up it is easy to update and develop.

Music examples of excellence wall zoom

Music wall of excellence 2

An Ethic of Excellence, by Ron Berger is available from our Teaching and Learning library

Differentiation or delimitation?


The first of our after-school ‘Workshops of Wonder’ on Magic Monday 3 was delivered by Susie Crozier from our English department, who shared her ideas about differentiation with us.

As an English teacher Susie felt it was important to start with a definition.  Differentiation, after all, is something we do as teachers as a matter of course on a daily basis – but what does it actually mean?  The dictionary definitions she found were fairly unhelpful she felt, but for one word:



Delimitation, Susie emphasised, is the point. It’s not just about access but success.

With this in mind, we were given a challenging task to work with in our groups which might be given to students.  We then had to think about ways in which we could ensure success for all.  It wasn’t about finding ways to change or adapt the task, it was about looking at the support we might put in place to allow everyone to achieve success.  The tasks we were given weren’t important (ours was based on Bill Bryson’s ‘Notes from a Small Island’) – the point was for us to focus on the strategies that would achieve this.

The strategies we came up with were:

  • provide additional sources of support, e.g. text books, access to the internet, or help from other students in the class
  • share examples, including “live” examples that are being produced by other students – there and then – using a visualiser, webcam or photographs of work taken during the lesson
  • provide frameworks to scaffold support – verbal as well as written
  • teacher modelling and deconstruction of the steps/processes required to complete the task
  • teacher questioning pitched appropriately to prompt students and get them thinking
  • using any data provided: have you checked reading ages? Have you reviewed any SEN guidance that has been provided? Have you viewed the strategies identified in any Pastoral Support Plan provided?
  • don’t be afraid to teach those who need more support while the rest of the class work on the task
  • don’t dive in too early – struggle is good!
  • provide additional support through quality feedback which students act on during D.I.R.T. (Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time)

As you can see from our list, none of these strategies involved lots of individualised activities or multiple worksheets and there wasn’t even a hint of a ‘must’…’could’…or ‘should’…outcome in sight.  Just one ‘bar’, set high enough so as to challenge the most able of our students, with enough appropriate, tailored support to enable everyone to reach for it…

…or as we now prefer to call it delimitation, not differentiation!