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Video transcript

Presenter intro: Helena MooreA key aim for teachers is to help pupils to

remember and use what they learn in the future. We want them to be able to work independently. In order to get there, pupils need to acquire a body of knowledge and skills, which they can use to solve a range of problems. Explicitly teaching knowledge and skills can be beneficial. This doesn’t mean that pupils are passive in the process. Instead it recognizes that pupils need support in order to move from dependence to independence.

Presenter main

Explicit teaching describes a particular approach to instruction and it’s underpinned by what we know about how pupils learn. Explicit teaching means introducing new material in steps, working through that material with pupils to check they understand it, and gradually withdrawing support so that they can work through it on their own. The I, We, You model is one way of thinking about this. I teach you something, we go through it together, and you have a go on your own.

There may be some overlap between stages but the ‘I phase’ broadly matches with teacher exposition. The ‘We phase’ is assessing and responding. And the ‘You phase’ is independent practice. Explicit teaching matches instruction to pupils starting points and gives them the support needed to learn the important knowledge and skills of the subject over time. The academic Barak Rosenshine has written extensively about explicit teaching. He argues that most effective teachers ensure that "pupils acquire, rehearse and connect background knowledge through a great deal of instructional support".

Teachers can carry out explicit teaching by following the I, We, You model. This involves applying many of the principles of how pupils learn. For example, it’s important during the ‘I’ part to start instruction at the point of current pupil understanding. Teachers also need to consider how to break new material into small manageable steps; concrete examples, partially complete examples (often called worked examples), guides, and scaffolds can be powerful methods of showing pupils new material.

Then there is the ‘We’ phase of the model. At the heart of explicit teaching is questioning, lots and lots of questioning. Teachers can use questions to encourage pupils to share emerging understanding and points of confusion.  Once material has been taught, teachers need to ask themselves, what have pupils understood? Are there any gaps in their understanding? Do I need to explain this bit again? Do they have any misconceptions? They can then use what they find out to adapt their teaching in response. They might need to reteach something provide another example or correct a misconception. The ‘We’ part is a good time for this. Although teachers can of course ask questions and respond during other phases too.

Once pupils have acquired some new knowledge or skills and teachers have checked that it’s secure, pupils need to have lots of opportunities to practise it. The ‘You’ part of the model, where pupils practise on their own, is just as important as the ‘I’ or the ‘We’ phase. Put another way: independent practice is just as important as teacher expositions and assessing and responding.

Teachers need to get the balance right between exposition repetition, practice, and retrieval of critical skills. They also need to accept that this instructional model may extend over more than one lesson. Lessons or periods are arbitrary ways of breaking up learning. It might be completely appropriate to only get through the ‘I’ and ‘We’ phases and get pupils to practise independently at another time.

Explicit teaching is a really effective way of guiding pupil learning. This doesn’t mean pupils should be passive recipients of knowledge. In a subject like English for example, getting pupils to share their personal response to a text is a key skill that we want them to develop. It’s part of the joy of reading, but if the pupil can’t understand the words in the text or is confused by some of the references the text makes, it may be difficult for them to come up with a response.

Presenter exemplification framing

In the next example, you’ll see an Ambition Institute coach model a short I, We, You sequence, to take you through the key stages of explicit teaching. As you watch pay particular attention to how the coach does the following:

  • Links what pupils already know to what is being taught
  • Makes the steps in a process memorable and ensures pupils can recall them
  • Encourages pupils to share emerging understanding and points of confusion so that misconceptions can be addressed

Exemplification: Ambition Institute coach

I’m about to take you through a short sequence of learning using the I, We, You model, so that you can see what explicit teaching looks like in practice. Imagine that I’m teaching a year three French lesson. we’ve been studying the French version of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". This is lesson six of eight and pupils are writing sentences about foods that they like.

“So today we’re going to write sentences about the foods that we like.

Yesterday we learned loads of new words for different types of food.

Today, we’re going to practise those new words by using them in sentences.

I model mine. Then We’ll do one together. And then you’ll write your sentences in your exercise books.

So first, I’m going to choose a food that I like. I’m going to choose apples because I like apples.

Second, I’m going to say my sentence in English. I like apples.

Third, I’m going to choose the word for I like, which is J’aime and practise saying my sentence: J’aime les pommes. I like apples. Now I write my sentence in French [teacher writes on white board]: J’aime les pommes. I like apples.

Finally, I need to check that I’ve included the word for the. I need to write les pommes as in French you would say, I like the apples. Pommes would be incorrect.

Now, let’s try one together. Mackenzie, first of all, can you tell me a food that you like from the foods that we identified in the book.

[Pupil answers]

Sweets, let’s say that sentence in English Mackenzie. I like sweets. What’s the word for I like in French? Hannah.

[Pupil answers]

Yes, well done. J’aime means I like. Let’s say that sentence out loud, Adam.

[Pupil answers]

J’aime bonbon. Let’s check. Have we included the word for the? So let’s correct that Adam. J’aime les bonon. Great. Now let’s say that together. "J’aime les bonbon"

Brilliant, now I’ll write it on the board [teacher writes on white board]: J’aime les bonbon.

Let’s do one more check. Which sentence is correct? Is it one: J’aime les bonbon, or is it two: J’aime bonon? Show me with your fingers in three, two, one.

[Pupils hold up fingers to show their answer. Teacher scans whole class]

you’ve all said one, which is correct. It includes the word les.

I want you to write your own sentences in your exercise books. Included the word bank on the board with some of the words in English and the words in French. And you also have a sentence starter in your exercise books from earlier. If you need it.”

This is a short sequence that demonstrates how you can guide pupil learning. To begin with I made sure that I connected what pupils already knew to what was being taught. Pupils were using vocabulary that they had learned in a previous lesson to write sentences.

During the ‘I’ phase, I modelled a good answer to pupils on the board. And made the steps in the process memorable by numbering them and using the same steps in the ‘I’ phase as the ‘We’ phase.

Asking specific pupils to contribute a response to each step in the task helped them to recall them. It also enables me to check that pupils understood the task. I knew what knowledge and skills to draw on.

Finally, I encouraged pupils to share emerging understanding and points of confusion, so that I could check for misconceptions. I asked the whole class the question to see if they had remembered that they need to add the word for the: les. Pupils often forget to add the definite article. By checking what pupils understand I can correct mistakes before they practise on their own.

In this example, the ‘I’ and ‘We’ phases of the sequence helped me to feel confidence that pupils were ready to work independently. They will still have to think hard during independent practice but guiding and checking their thinking beforehand will increase the likelihood of success.

Presenter key ideas

In this video we have explored what the term explicit teaching means and provided a model to help you think about it: I, We, You. Before we finish, read through the key ideas that we have covered. Which ideas do you feel the example illustrated the best?

  • Link what pupils already know to what is being taught
  • Make the steps in a process memorable and ensure pupils can recall them
  • Encourage pupils to share emerging understanding and points of confusion so that misconceptions can be addressed

Presenter summary

Explicit teaching helps our pupils to be supported in their learning. By providing pupils with the right support when they need it. They are more likely to acquire and apply the knowledge and skills that we teach them.