Monday, October 10, 2016

Helping Students Retain What They Learn?

One recommendation I read all over the net for students to help them retain information is for the student to read the material, close the book and ask themselves what they remember.  This is great if a student understands everything they read but in math, this particular idea does not always work.

I try to help students do this as part of my daily routine.  I always have the I can statement for the day on a board and I ask them what are we focusing on for the main lesson.  I also ask what they remember from the day or two days before.  This may be done verbally or I have them write it down as part of their warm-up.

It has been suggested students practice the skills they are taught over a longer period of time to help retention.  I sneak this into their weekly homework practice and into the daily warm-up.  I sometimes throw in percent problems, problems using fractions, or whatever topic they need the practice on.

Sometimes, my students do not see the relation between working with simple fractions and algebraic fractions, or even trigonometric identities.  So I review the basic process of finding common denominators or dividing with fractions.

I also have several apps on my iPads for my students to use.  I love WileD Math because it has so many skills for students to practice.  I've used it in Algebra II to scaffold their rewriting standard equations to slope intercept form.  I have my low Algebra I class use it to practice solving one and two step equations, distributive property, and combining terms.

Once students earn a certain number of points, they are allowed to spend them on any one of several games offered within the app.  I get requests from many of my students to play the game.  They really love it.

I wonder if it might improve retention if instead of starting with examples, it might prove more effective to show a problem and ask students to see if they can use what they've learned to solve this one.  After about 5 minutes, start working it out with students, using their input to solve it as a group.  Once this is done, it is time for the lecture because you've taken a step to activate prior knowledge.

I have to do this carefully with my students as they are in the habit of completely shutting down and refusing to do anything for a bit.  Its knowing your students that helps choose the best methods to use to help students retain information.

Let me know what you think?