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November 11

Gail Brown

Part 2, More modelling, same yet different, still effective!

  • Mon 7th Jan 2013
  • Gail

Last post, I had models in different, exciting outfits, this image – they’re all in black, yet all slightly different… I’m desperately trying to send the message that this is EXACTLY THE SAME teaching strategy (explicit instruction) just “dressed up differently” – as each teacher takes this on board, and uses it for effective instruction…

When I googled Rosenshine and Stevens in preparation for this second blog post, I was astounded at what came up! In particular, that Barak Rosenshine had edited UNSECO Principles of Instruction, which claims to be the most effective methods of teaching. This effectiveness didn’t surprise me at all – what I still wonder about is why this isn’t more commonplace in classrooms, and why these methods of teaching are not sometimes part of teacher training?

What did prompt me to write these two posts was a blog post by Tim Shanahan, and his response that this type of teaching, explicit instruction, works for secondary students learning how to understand complex texts. The term used for this in Tim’s post is “gradual release of responsibility” – it’s still explicit teaching – it’s still “I do, we do, you do” – and the responsibility for completing that task is passed from the teacher to the student. Remembering that “you do” means giving the students an opportunity to practice the task, without help! To see if they have learned well from the modelling and guidance already given.

I’d agree totally, with all that Tim says, and that we all do this slightly differently (we all have that little black dress, and they’re all different dresses, yet the same!). That’s appropriate, when each class is different! And yes, like any skill, we all get better with practice - "practice make perfect" - and the more we all use these effective methods of teaching - the more our students learn, and the more teachers learn! Becoming skilled in modelling, guided and then ensuring motivation to practice skills is a wonderful instructional cycle!

However, all these different labels, and whether these effective strategies are taught or used - these are not within my control to change – what I can do is keep spreading the message about explicit instruction, effective teaching, gradual release of responsibility, or whatever you want to call this teaching – where we model, guide and then ensure practice of whatever we want students (or our children) to learn. Quite frankly, I would not want brain surgeons discovery learning when they are operating on my brain – would you?

Here's my response to Tim’s blog post: I think this is a wonderful confirmation for explicit instruction (Rosenshine & Stevens, 1986), and no matter what you call these teaching strategies, they work! Thanks Tim, for confirming what many effective teachers know and do. And yes, like any skill, we all get better with practice - "practice make perfect" - and the more we all use these effective methods of teaching - the more our students learn, and the more teachers learn! Becoming skilled in modelling, guided and then ensuring motivation to practice skills is a wonderful instructional cycle! Thanks again - you have motivated me to write about this on my own blog!

Many thanks to Tim Shanahan for jogging my memory!

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