Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spacing Practice

Elephant, Proboscis, Shield, Memory

One way to increase retention of learning is to space practice sessions for old material.  Most teachers do not worry about checking students to see how much they remember because they have so much to cover throughout the year and usually do not have enough time.

Teachers struggle to do everything required while trying to teach between state mandated tests, school mandated assessments (AIMS, MAP, etc),  holidays, student trips, and other interruptions.  What are some ways to help students retain knowledge while working around interruptions?

There are ways to created spaced practices even with all the interruptions.  Some things teachers can do are:

1. Study the information more than once.  This means, it can be referred to when teaching other material if the information is applicable.  For instance, you can review rules of exponents when teaching exponential functions and logs because the rules are used by both. 

2. Regular testing such as using daily quizzes, weekly quizzes, exit questions, or warm-ups. This should be low stakes rather than waiting for the main test.  Ask questions to see if they remember yesterday's material, last week, or last month.  It is the act of retrieval which increases retention.

3. If you want to remember it, it must be recalled from your memory.  Ask a question about something already learned.

4. Keep returning to content considered important.

5. Do not do the practice, practice, practice because it does not help student retention. 

6. Retrieval is best when a person has already had some forgetfulness occurring.

7. It is easy to think you are getting better when in reality gains can quickly disappear.

Make retrieval practice a part of your daily routine.  If you taught the rules of exponents yesterday, ask questions on them today, in three days, in a week, in two weeks, in a month and the student is more likely to  remember the material.

Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear.

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