I was reading something the other day which suggested incorporating brain dumps into your daily routine to help students improve understanding and provides a quick assessment. It is an activity that does not provide a grade.
Brain dump is simply having students write down or talk about everything that they remember about a topic. The request for a brain dump could be on what they already know, what they remember from the day before, or what they remember from the lesson so far.
If you go the way of having students write down what they remember, the next step would be having them share the information with others in groups. They can ask questions of each other or make comments to clarify ideas.
Using a brain dump or download helps students transfer information to
long term memory storage so its easily recalled. This is important
because it helps eliminate the blank mind during a test or the "But I
understood it yesterday!"
The specifics for doing a well run brain dump is as follows:
1. Set a specific time limit for the activity such as 10 minutes about the essentials of the unit. For my students, I would start with less time to get them used to writing or talking.
2. Let them know the information should be done in free flow. Let students know they do not have to organize the notes. Just write.
3. Do not save them. Let them struggle because it helps them transfer the information from short term to long term memory. Practicing should be hard because it helps students learn better.
4. Practice generation, elaboration, and reflection. Generation refers to writing down the main ideas, restate key ideas in your own words and create questions. Elaboration is taking the ideas and expanding them with details, connecting facts, and show causes. Finally reflection has students writing about what they learned and how they learned.
In math, the brain dump could also include having students work together to make corrections so they learn doing it correctly. The corrections should be made in a different color so they can "see" the difference and know which one is the corrections by just looking.
So if you aren't doing it yet, take a bit of time to incorporate brain dumps into your daily routine to help students move the information from short term to long term memory.
Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.