Ask questions: applying Rosenshine's principles

Jan-Wolter Smit

Head of Education

After having explained a new topic to your students, it is time to ask them questions about it, and assess what they know. Yet Something as easy as asking questions can be done in different ways, with different outcomes in terms of student engagement. Hereunder we propose 3 learning techniques to support you in the application of Rosenshine's Principles of Education in the classroom, while asking questions to your students.

Learning techniques: asking questions 

Which Rosenshine principles are applied in the following 3 learning techniques?

  • Ask a large number of questions & check the responses of all students (3)

Engaging in effective question asking is one of the most powerful tools a teacher can use to enhance student learning, and encourage students to explore a topic in depth. Questions allow teachers to:

  1. Establish how well students are engaging with your material
  2. Determine whether to dedicate more time to explore a subject
  3. Enhance student learning by requiring them to retrieve prior knowledge

  • Provide scaffolding for difficult tasks (8)

When introducing students to more complex material, Rosenshine suggests using scaffolding in your lessons. Scaffolding is when teachers facilitate students’ gradual mastery of a concept or skill by gradually reducing teacher assistance. There is a shift of responsibility over the learning process from the teacher to the student.

1. Extended mixed heaps

With this learning technique, students are stimulated to dive deep into a subject by exploring a number of different concepts, and creating connections between them.  

Define three columns indicating three different topics/facts relevant to what you are teaching. For each topic think of related concepts which fall under the same category, and write them on a number of concept cards. You could use paper cards, or digital cards created in a platform like LessonUp. It depends mostly on which tools you have available in the class, and what you and your students prefer working with. 

We advise you to divide students in groups of two or three, and ask them to take turns. Each team/student picks a concept card and is asked to indicate which column/topic it belongs to. The teams are then challenged to explain their choices.

Students are stimulated to reflect, create connections and discuss the outcome. This differs from standard question answering. It creates links between related concepts, thus allowing for a deeper understanding of the subject matter you are exploring.

Extended mixed heaps is applicable to all kinds of subjects, including physics, history, modern languages, philosophy, and many more. It can be implemented not only during all the phases of a lesson, but also during formative assessments, in combination with complementary open questions and/or targeted quiz questions.

 

How to implement it with LessonUp’s digital teaching platform

LessonUp offers the perfect interactive component to implement the above mentioned learning technique: the drag & drop question.

Create three “drag targets”, two of them indicating different topics related to your subject matter, and a third “mixed” target for concepts that apply to both. Once the three columns/drag targets are ready, you can proceed with creating digital cards indicating all the concepts you would like your students to think about. 

The simple physical action of dragging the digital cards to the correct targets reinforces the positive effects of this learning technique. 

2.  5 about 1

This learning technique implies the use of clusters of five true/false quiz questions related to one topic. Students are provided with 5 questions/statements /facts concerning a subject. They have to decide whether the notions are true or false. 

Once the assignment is concluded, the goal is that at least three true/false statements are correct. This is an arbitrary number of course, but it adds an appealing element of playfulness to the challenge. Once concluded, discuss the questions/statements /facts with your students. This will clarify misconceptions and reinforce the learning process.

You can implement 5 about 1 during all lesson phases, as an energiser at the beginning of a lesson, to revise with your students in preparation for a test, or as part of a formative assessment. It can be made as complex and as challenging as you prefer, and is applicable to all subject matters, levels of instruction, and classes. 

 

How to implement it with LessonUp’s digital teaching platform

The best way to apply this learning technique with LessonUp’s teaching platform, is by implementing a number of quiz questions within a lesson. 

Creating quizzes in LessonUp is a straightforward process that you can learn in no time. Once your students have placed their choices, you can immediately review their answers, and provide them with real-time feedback both in person and/or digitally. 

The results of all the quizzes will automatically be saved in your students’ reports. 

3. Bingo!

There is not much to explain while introducing this learning technique. Every teacher knows what bingo is, and has played it once or twice with their students. 

Bingo can be applied to all subjects in different ways. Herewith a couple of examples:

  • Maths: indicate a number of different additions. The numbers resulting from resolving the additions have to be covered/crossed out on the bingo cards. 
  • Geography: indicate a number of different countries. The capitals of the indicated countries have to be covered/crossed out on the bingo cards. 
  • Chemistry: indicate the names of the elements. Their symbols have to be covered/crossed out on the bingo cards. 
  • History: indicate a number of historical events.The years these events took place have to be covered/crossed out on the bingo cards. 

In a playful way, students are asked to explore different kinds of notions concerning your subject matter. Brain connections and information processing are reinforced.

 

How to implement it with LessonUp’s digital teaching platform

The LessonUp spinner is the perfect interactive element for the learning technique bingo. Teachers digitally initiate the spinning of the wheel, and students have to cross out their answers on their own bingo cards. Just as they do while playing bingo at home.

If you are working with words, make sure you prepare your own bingo cards beforehand. There are online generators that help create them with a tailor-made number of words. Once done, you can send them via email to your students, or print them out. If you are a maths teacher, you can use standard bingo cards with numbers. 

On the various sections of the spinner, indicate the chosen additions, countries, historical events, or any other data that you want your students to work with. If you decide to use standard bingo cards, keep in mind that you will have to fill in 75 parts of the spinner. It takes time, but once done you can apply this learning technique to different classes and/or groups of students. The spinner is a beloved interactive feature.

 

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