When students remember what they’ve learned, there’s less need for reteaching and more time for new learning. And the way to get there is by using research-based strategies, like, retrieval practice, interleaving, and spacing. (Scroll to the end of page to download three sample lessons that incorporate the strategies.)
How do you do this? Blend (interleave) various item types and space out the practice over time. Give students frequent opportunities to retrieve (call to mind) what they’ve learned. When they put forth the effort to retrieve, the concepts are reinforced, becoming much easier to retrieve in the future. Retrieval, spacing, and interleaving can be applied to all subject areas and used with all age levels.
Vary the questions and activities you use. Multiple choice, matching, fill-in, short answer, and extended response all work well with the strategies, as do flashcards, academic puzzles, games, and graphic organizers.
Below are some of my favorite item types as well as links to samples of Simple Solutions Math, NextGen Science, and Social Studies. See how these lessons incorporate the three research-based strategies that dramatically increase long-term retention. It’s easy to get started—just do a little each day!
Tell a three-sentence story.
The teacher names a topic, and the student tells or writes about it with a little story that’s just three sentences long. The teacher can add some scaffolding by providing relevant vocabulary.
Keep a running list of questions to review what has been taught.
By keeping these questions handy, you can prompt students to quickly retrieve what they’ve learned. Hold a “lightning round” whenever you have a few moments to fill.
- Give four basic facts whose product is 48.
- Name three of the world’s major oceans.
- What is the formula for finding the area of a circle?
- Why is a gerund or an infinitive called a verbal?
Use a Graphic Organizer.
Give students a list of previously-learned vocabulary. Have them sort the words into categories.
Link terms and concepts through likenesses and differences.
Some questions can prompt a “memory search,” in which students look for features or characteristics and think critically about a term or concept.
Find out more about how you can easily incorporate retrieval, interleaving, and spacing into your daily routine. Explore the Simple Solutions Approach.
Download some sample lessons that can be printed and used in your classroom today!
Click on the image below to download and print.