Why Flashcards Work

When I was in elementary school, my favorite activity was whole-class flashcard races. I already had the longing to become a teacher and couldn’t wait to get my own set of tall, buff-colored flashcards for every math operation. When I had my own classroom, I used flashcards in a less competitive way. My students made […]

Prevent Learning Loss: Use these Research-based Strategies

For many years, researchers have warned us of the learning loss that occurs when students are not academically engaged. It’s a loss that increases with age as children progress from elementary through middle school. At Summer Solutions, we specialize in preventing learning loss through these research-based strategies: Retrieval practice is one of the best ways to […]

Phonics Instruction: Less Reteaching, More Time for New Learning

While the best way to teach reading is still debated, years of research support explicit, systematic phonics instruction as the foundation for reading success. In 2000, the National Reading Panel¹ recommended teaching phonics patterns by following a defined scope and sequence. “Learning to read is not natural or easy for most children. Reading is an […]

How to Find More Classroom Time for New Learning

More classroom time can be devoted to introducing new material when the teacher is not required to continually reteach old skills and concepts. We love how this short Edutopia video explains practice testing. (HINT: It’s not the typical kind of testing!) Low-stakes testing is a form of retrieval practice, a strategy that boosts long-term retention […]

Spend Less Time on Reteaching and More Time on New Learning.

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 […]

What Is the Best Item Type and Delivery Method for Retrieval Practice?

That’s a trick question! Numerous item types—multiple choice, matching, fill-in, short answer, and extended response—work well. Furthermore, retrieval practice can be applied in a variety of ways, including flashcards, academic puzzles, games, mixed review sheets (like these), and even graphic organizers. Here are some of my favorite item types. Tell a three-sentence story. My friends […]

Mastering Mathematics with 21st Century Strategies

Retrieval practice, spaced practice, and interleaved practice are not new. Plenty of cognitive scientists and researchers have endorsed them, based on more than 100 years of research. Even so, these beneficial strategies have not been widely implemented in most elementary school classrooms. Why, then, do we call them 21st Century Strategies? Today, we understand the […]

summer slide

End the Summer Slide with Summer Solutions

Ahh, summer! Who doesn’t look forward to a couple months of warmth, sunshine, and some well-deserved R&R? Don’t worry, it’ll be here before you know it. But, as it so often goes, with the good comes the bad–the summer slide. The Research Parents, teachers, and researchers all know that summer learning loss, or the summer […]

Practice is Practice, Right?

Part 3: Help Students Understand the Benefits of Distributed Practice and Retrieval Practice In the last two blogs, we looked at distributed practice and retrieval practice—and why combining them is an effective way to increase long-term retention. Use this lesson to explain the strategies and help your students use them more. Just to review, retrieval […]

Retrieval Practice

Practice is Practice, Right?

Part 2: What’s the difference between distributed practice and retrieval practice? Like distributed practice, retrieval practice is a strategy. It involves getting students to remember (retrieve) what they’ve learned. Putting forth some effort and really thinking about a concept reinforces it and makes it easier to retrieve in the future. Think about the kinds of […]