Dive into a new topic with enthusiasm - applying Rosenshine's principles

Thomas Courtley, ex teacher and LessonUp education specialist

Thomas Courtley

Education Specialist

Cover image blog_ Dive into a new topic with enthusiasm - applying Rosenshine's principles

You are looking forward to explaining a new chapter to your students. You hope that they will dive into it with enthusiasm, engaged and inspired to give it their best. A complete digital teaching platform as LessonUp can support you in the implementation of any didactic theory. With LessonUp, you can enrich the presentation of a theory with its practical expression, by alternating presentation moments with interactive slides, and giving your student instant feedback. Today we are going to tackle Rosenshine’s Principle of Instruction and how to implement them during the various phases of a lesson. Hereunder we propose 3 learning techniques to support you in the application of Rosenshine's Principles of Education in the classroom, while introducing a brand new topic.

Top 3 learning techniques to apply 👉 when you explain a new topic


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

  • Begin a lesson with a short review of previous learning (1)

Rosenshine suggests devoting between five and eight minutes every day, preferably at the start of a lesson, to revise previous learning. Our cognitive load is limited, so if we don’t review previously anchored memories, remembering old information will hinder us from acquiring new information and making it stick.

  • Present new material in small steps with student practice (2)

The Cognitive Load Theory explains how our working memory has a limited capacity. If students are presented with too much information at once, the brain suffers from something known as overload. This causes the learning process to slow down, since the brain can no longer process all the information being presented in bulk. Introducing learning material in small steps helps prevent a cognitive overload. 

  • Provide models and worked examples (4)

Delivering new information to students by linking it to something or some process they are familiar with, allows them to gain a quicker understanding of the topic. This is especially true of more conceptual ideas, which require deeper connections to become anchored and understood in all their implications. 

1. ABC brainstorm

As indicated in the above section, activating prior knowledge makes space for new information and helps create better brain connections. According to the research of education specialists John Hattie and Robert Marzano, new notions are better absorbed by the brain if we take some time to revise previous learning beforehand. Revising is therefore essential.

To implement the learning technique ABC brainstorm, we advise you to divide your students into groups of two or three. Indicate the new topic or subject, without further explanation, and ask them to write down a word or short phrase concerning the topic: one for each letter of the alphabet. Together, they are challenged to help each other and come up with words and/or sentences for as many letters as possible.

This learning technique can be implemented on paper, or on the whiteboard. If you decide to forward a standard layout to your students, they could work on their own devices. It’s up to you as their teacher. There are many ways of applying this technique.


Brainstorm together, on a central screen

In LessonUp you can create a slide with an open-ended question. In the textual window you could write something like: “Indicate what you know about..”, followed by the subject. Students could answer with a list of what they know about the topic, divided by commas or semicolons, starting with the letter A and ending with the Z. 

If you prefer to simplify it a bit for your students by not asking them to come up with words from A to Z, try dividing it in blocks of three letters. That way students have more than one letter to choose from. There are numerous standard layouts you could forward to your students, and/or embed in a LessonUp lesson.

If you are presenting your lesson on a central screen, you could insert one of these standard layouts within a digital slide, and show it to your class. Then ask them to work on it by answering an open-ended question, such as “Indicate what you know about…”.

2. Zoom in

With the learning technique Zoom in students get to focus on details, and on drawing conclusions. Each time students are offered small zoom-ins of a bigger picture, one by one, like the pieces of a puzzle. By and by, they are stimulated to ask relevant questions and draw their own conclusions, until the original image is revealed.

With this learning technique they experience how “thinking” is a living process, which changes and matures each time the brain is offered a new piece of information. 

To get the most out of this learning technique, you need to select a complex picture containing a lot of detail. The main goal is for students to ask relevant questions and elaborate information, not to guess what the initial image is. That is secondary.

Each new piece of the puzzle (image)  is accompanied by a new question, such as:

  • What do you see?
  • What stands out? 
  • Does this new piece of information complete the picture?
  • Do you have more questions?


Zoom in: much more effective with LessonUp slides

Start by choosing the perfect image and embedding it in your lesson. Once you have decided which sections you want to show to your students, in which order, use a black filler (component; symbol) to erase the sections you want to conceal, one by one. 

Continue concealing parts of the image with the black filler, slide by slide, until your screen is black, and the original image is no longer visible. Remember to start by showing your students your last slide first - the black one - and work your way back.

This learning technique is applicable to all kinds of subjects, without limitations. It activates prior knowledge and stimulates students to think about critical questions.

3. Working with hotspots

People are generally good visual learners, and observing a meaningful image is always an interesting experience. A nice picture captures the attention of your students, and can stimulate them to engage in interesting conversations with you and fellow students. 

This is one of the reasons why classroom walls are often crammed with posters and visual material, fighting to capture students’ attention and ignite their curiosity. 


Give images a twist with LessonUp’s digital teaching platform

LessonUp offers the opportunity to add hotspots to a chosen image. Thanks to these components, your image will offer students detailed information on what it shows.

This component offers you a number of advantages as a teacher. You can add a lot of information to any part/detail of an image, without creating a textual overload.

Moreover, students can study the image and read the information added to the hotspots in their own time, at their own individual pace. This leaves you with ample room for differentiating your learning material based on your students' different paces. By using hotspots, you could load an image with heaps of information. In some cases, it is comparable to reading a booklet. Without being aware of it, students absorb the load.

Interactive images with hotspots are also perfect reference material. For example, you could list the parts of a microscope, or the steps to follow during a lab activity. The combination of visual and verbal information helps strengthen the learning process.

If you want, you can even match the hotspots with explanatory audio material, involving more than one sense. Record or download a targeted audio message to add a general explanation, or clear instructions on what students are expected to accomplish.