Friday, January 24, 2020

Math + Retrieval Practice = Sustained Learning

Retrieval practice is a hot topic in the Twitterverse right now, and for good reason; it is a high-yield and easily implemented strategy that works.

The idea behind retrieval is that bringing information to mind (getting information OUT of students' heads rather than cramming more IN) boosts memory and helps to disrupt the forgetting curve. A team of cognitive scientists has compiled an amazing set of research and tools at I highly recommend spending a day reading and learning there, and checking out the books Make it Stick and Powerful Teaching to understand current thinking in cognitive science about this strategy, as well as awesome, practical strategies.

Two non-negotiables for effective retrieval practice:

  • Retrieval practice is practice; a formative experience that is not graded.
  • Feedback is an indispensable part of the process. Close the loop.

I've fallen in love with several strategies over the past 1.5 years of trying this in my classes.
Here are 3 of them that I feel are particularly powerful for my mostly emergent bilingual mathematicians (examples follow after the table):

This is a Retrieval Grid I used recently with my Algebra I class to ease back in after winter break:

Here are some picture prompt responses:

(I am working on being more systematic about collecting work samples, and will store them here when I have them, and I also Tweet them out from @anneagost).

For those of you in the Chicago area, I hope to see you at MMC next weekend to talk more about these and other tools for retrieval practice in math class!

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