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Make It Stick – my reflection on retrieval, recall and memory retention.

Know your children, build their confidence, by showing them it’s OK to fail […] There are ALWAYS going to be different levels of understanding, but it’s about catering for ALL, allowing them to achieve their PERSONAL POTENTIAL.

Having recently read this book, I was able to enhance my teaching, as I started to implement many of the techniques suggested. I could see that the strategies were realistic, logical and really did help my children progress.
The key fundamentals of knowing ‘How to make it stick’.

  • Knowing what you want to achieve, setting goals, clear visions.
  • Not being afraid to revisit, however often you need to!
  • Having the courage to say to yourself ‘they haven’t got it, we are going to do it again (as many times as you choose) and knowing that in the final session, when they leave that classroom, they will have got it!
  • Know your children, build their confidence, by showing them it’s ok to fail, but THAT THEY WILL understand, in the end!

Keeping it real…

  • Yes, there are ALWAYS going to be different levels of understanding, but it’s about catering for ALL, allowing them to achieve their PERSONAL POTENTIAL.
  • Work with those children with lower confidence, make it a ‘challenge’ to build them up, make them BELIEVE they are good at fractions or percentages etc.
  • If they know YOU believe, they start to believe they have the ability to understand too!

Immediate Feedback…

  • I mark within sessions, to gain a good overview of how children are progressing, plus I can ensure children are encouraged to move on, if they haven’t already given themselves permission to do so.
  • Marking during lunch, helps me ascertain where the gaps are and the children can work with an adult or correct an error, when they return from lunch, whilst the learning is still fresh in their minds. (Everyone works in different ways!)

Prioritize, one step at a time…

  • The key is to remember that overloading children with information, does not work.
  • They need a clear process to work towards, building towards habitual learning, where they can absorb new information at their own speed, therefore allowing it to MAKE SENSE in their mind, before ‘racing onto the next objective’.   

Repeat, adapt and strategically reintroduce…
‘A baseball player who practices batting by swinging at fifteen fastballs, then at fifteen curveballs, and then at fifteen change-ups will perform better in practise than the player who mixes it up. But the player who asks for random pitches during practice builds his ability to decipher and respond to each pitch as it comes his way, and he becomes the better hitter.’
Strengthening the memory using spaced retrieval learning…
‘As you reconstruct learning from long-term memory, as awkward as it feels, you are strengthening your mastery as well as the memory.’
Making mistakes, knowing exactly where you went wrong and correcting helps…

  • Strengthens learning from errors.
  • Empowers memory.
  • Prolongs learning.

True or false, articulate and the use of misconceptions…
‘True of false questions’ assess what they have contained, in their memory.
‘Articulate’ allows the children to explain the learning accurately, going back to the ‘bare bones’ of the concept.
‘Misconceptions’ allow children to challenge what they think they know and compare with what they actually know.
Then they have to prove and justify, again articulating learning and strengthening memory.
Keeping it simple but effective, quality over quantity…
Get straight to the main point of learning and make sure the model is clear, inspirational and captures the key aspects that the children need to understand.
Make it relevant, make it real and alter those objectives…  
We are teaching children to be savvy in an ever changing world, with 21st century careers, therefore it’s essential that we think about how we can alter the objectives. We need them to relate to an area of learning that the children will use, in their future careers.

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The author

Niomi is currently a year 5 teacher, SLT and Head of Science across the CHANGE partnership academy. Having been teaching for 7 years Niomi has just recently moved to a new school to develop working in a different setting. Niomi’s passions include perseverance, pedagogy, emotional intelligence and well-being.

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