Teaching remotely feels a million miles from the classroom but not too far from how I plan lessons. In fact, I feel that my planning for online learning is really making me think strongly about what I am teaching and how it fits into a wider sequence of learning. I’m under no illusion that I will be able to deliver the breadth of what I usually teach but I’m confident that the depth in which I am teaching certain concepts will help pupils tackle any future gaps.
To help structure my remote learning to teach depth and build pupil knowledge, I am applying Rosenshine’s principles of instruction, in particularly:
- Begin a lesson with a short review of previous learning
- Set the scene with clear explanations
- Present new materials in small steps with student practice after each step
- Check for student understanding
- Engage students in weekly reviews
For me, teaching remotely, therefore, is making sure that a clear, single concept is being planned for and that it is being explicitly linked throughout the learning in a looped fashion. Rosenshine’s principles are not linear but are interconnected forming a feedback loop to help pupils secure learning into their long term memories.
For instance, teaching the industrial revolution is fascinating. There are so many different concepts at play with equally weighted influence on the explosion of industry during the 18th and 19th centuries. But, I carefully selected technology as a primary key concept to drive through the unit of study. In particularly, the angle is now technology disrupted the lives of people for good and bad.
By keeping it simple, I can use Rosenshine’s principles to carefully control a “planning loop” to help with pupil mastery of the concept of technology. I can string lessons together reinforcing the power of good and bad of technology whilst delving deeper into the inter-play between market forces and profit in driving change. I then can deliver new small chunks of knowledge, purposely stepped out and layered on to the next to help build a narrative of a changing world shaped by technology.
For example, we discussed how John Kay’s invention of they flying shuttle tipped the scale of supply and demand in wool production in the cottage industry. A change that led to new inventions to increase spinning speeds to meet the increase in demand of thread. More thread was being spun but the machines were getting too big for the private home. To house them, factories sprung up all across the country. The end of the cottage industry was put into motion.
Asking lots of questions brings the loop back around. Well-planned, purposeful questions can help unpick pupil understanding and misconceptions. I’ve noticed I’m asking even more questions during remote learning. Probably because, in my case, I can’t see anyone. I see a black void, so I’m desperately trying to capture any form of understanding.
A weekly review brings the loop back around. I focus on revisiting core knowledge that is necessary to support mastery. This is the knowledge I want to stick for the next series of learning loops.
And now I’m back at the beginning. A new series of lessons will start with a short review that links back to the previous learning, and out goes the loop again.
I believe, therefore, that Rosenshine’s principles of instruction forms a learning loop which helps me to simplify my planning to allow pupils to capture as much understanding as possible while learning remotely.
Remote learning planning loop
Infographic on how I approach remote learning planning and delivery