Tag Archives: Memory

Blog of the Week: 19 March 2021 – Curriculum, Connections and Covid-19

Catalysing Learning

It’s been a very long term. We deserve a break. But already I find myself thinking of the challenges that await us in the autumn.

Many of my students had very successful lockdowns. I am proud of them. Next year they deserve a curriculum that builds upon the work they have done in remotely. Others have not been so lucky. I feel for them. They deserve the chance to go back over the work they missed or misunderstood, for you cannot build on sand. So I have been wondering, how can we use the curriculum to give all our students what they deserve?

Revisiting content

Chemistry is full of connections and we have done our best to emphasise these in our GCSE curriculum. Below you can see a map of this curriculum, which is based on the OCR 21st Century Science course. The boxes are our modules and the lines…

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Blog of the Week: 7 February 2020 – Low Stakes Quizzing and Retrieval Practice Part 1

TomNeedham

When I began teaching, I thought that a starter activity was there to ‘engage’ students in the learning, perhaps by providing some form of irresistible conundrum or puzzle for them to work out or maybe a multi-media, pyrotechnic laser show to wow them into compliance, competency and submission. By creating overblown and incredibly time consuming activities, I thought that my lessons would be memorable, burning themselves into the minds of my awestruck students and ensuring 100% retention. The lesson was everything: I thought of learning in 60 minute episodes. Learning over time, and by implication the notion of long term retention, was not something that I really considered, dazzled as I seemed to be by the allure and promise of engagement, novelty and the hallowed ‘hook’.

Oh how wrong I was! Not only was this desire for novelty and edutainment exhausting, but it implicitly sent the message to my students that…

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Blog of the Week: 6 December 2019 – Deep learning (2): structuring and organising knowledge – responsive teaching update

What comes next?

  1. James I, Charles, I, Charles II, James II, _________
  2. 2, 3, 5, 7, __
  3. Je suis allé, je vais, j’irai; j’ai été, je suis, _________
  4. A B A B C D C D E F E F _ _
  5. Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton, _______

Some of these clues may feel frustratingly cryptic: readers know A, 2, and perhaps ‘je suis’; they know about neon lights, and probably something about Charles I.  Answering depends not just on what we know however, but on how it’s organised: the answer seems obvious once we recognise the structure (answers below).  Deep learning means developing mental models – organised knowledge structures – which allow students to apply their knowledge flexibly: this post discusses the architecture of mental models; what structures and organisation make knowledge usable?

Mental models: organising knowledge usably

Flexible knowledge is an important step towards deep learning.  If an item of knowledge is flexible, students can access it via a range of cues, not just the ones they originally learned.  So – for example – flexible knowledge of Charles I would allow them to think about him when asked about the Stuarts, Ship Money, or the Divine Right of Kings (more on this here).  This flexibility supports transfer of knowledge to …

 

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Blog of the Week: 18 October 2019 – An “Ah-Ha” Moment with Spaced Practice in the Classroom

I’m sometimes asked by other teachers how I show my students the positive effects of spaced practice. By definition, it takes time to see the results of spacing out your practice of material and this fact makes it more difficult to demonstrate in class. This past week, however, I was granted that perfect moment of instruction when it all came together and I was able to say, “See…I told you this stuff works.”

Please allow me to set the scene. We began class one day this week by completing a ‘Last Lesson, Last Week, Last Month’ review. Here it is:

I combined answering these questions with the ‘Color Coding Recall Attempts’* strategy.

Pretty simple. Answer three questions from differing units of material spaced out over different amounts of time. Intuition tells me my students should remember the material …

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Blog of the Week: 26 September 2019 – This much I know about…how I have transformed my own teaching

johntomsett

I have been a teacher for 31 years, a Headteacher for 16 years and, at the age of 54, this much I know about how I have transformed my own teaching.

I never thought I would transform my teaching in my 50s.

After 31 years of being in the classroom, I have never enjoyed my teaching more. For the last term I have been teaching Business Studies, a new subject for me. We had a challenging, 22 student, all-male Year 10 class. Relationships in the class were broken. I agreed with the teacher that I would remove the ten most disruptive students and teach them myself. When I told those students to stand up, pick up their bags and follow me at the beginning of their first lesson after Easter, they had no idea what was going on. I took them to my office, cramped them round my meeting…

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Blog of the Week: 8 March 2019 – What can we learn from Direct Instruction & Siegfried Engelmann?

Joe Kirby

Combining precise example sequences, high-pace questioning, continuous instant feedback, extended practice drills, and rapid corrections of misconceptions, direct instruction is one of the most effective teaching methods.

Image

Citing an individual study to prove that Direct Instruction isn’t effective

is like citing a rainstorm to prove that the Sahara isn’t a desert.

There is a vast range of empirical, scientific and statistical evidence that shows Direct Instruction works.

Project Follow Through was the largest controlled comparative study of pedagogical techniques in history: from 1967 – 1995, over 700,000 children in 170 disadvantaged communities across the United States participated in this $1 billion study to discover the best practices for teaching disadvantaged students. This was the result:

‘Eighteen school districts, some rural, some urban, applied Direct Instruction (DI). When the testing was over, students in DI classrooms had placed first in reading, first in maths, first in spelling, and first in…

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Blog of the Week: The 3D curriculum that promotes remembering

primarytimerydotcom

In my previous blog I explained about how memory works, and how teachers can use strategies from cognitive science such as retrieval practice to promote long term learning. After all, the learned curriculum is the only curriculum that actually counts in the end.

The curriculum is the means by which we ensure that all our children get their fair share of the rich cultural inheritance our world affords.  A good curriculum empowers children with the knowledge they are entitled to: knowledge that will nourish both them and the society of which they are members. Because, as Angela Rayner, Labour shadow education secretary says, knowledge belongs to the many, not the few.

But if children don’t remember what we have taught them, then even the richest curriculum is pointless. Knowledge can’t empower if it is forgotten. So as well as thinking about what is the richest, best material to put into…

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Blog of the Week: 18 January 2019 – Lightbulb Moments with The Learning Scientists

The Dusty Tsundoku

This weekend, we at Advantage Schools ran our first educational conference.  It was a collaborative piece of work, with Bedford School providing the venue, and the amazing presenters being The Learning Scientists: Megan Sumeracki, PhD; Cindy Nebel, PhD; Carolina Kuepper-Tetzel, PhD; and Althea Need Kaminske, PhD.  Over two hundred teachers joined us for two days of fascinating learning about the insights of cognitive science, and how these can help our students to remember what they have studied more successfully.

ls2

I had some familiarity with most of the strategies discussed. A few years ago, I had read about the benefits of retrieval practice, spacing and interleaving and had worked to incorporate them into my planning (at least, I thought I had).  As part of induction at Bedford Free School, all staff attend a series of student assemblies run by the Head of History (@JamesRawlins90), in which he talks through the learning…

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Blog of the Week: 8 June 2018 – What is a knowledge-rich curriculum? Principle and Practice.

teacherhead

I have found recent discussions and debates about the concept of a ‘knowledge-rich curriculum’  – or knowledge-led; knowledge-based – fascinating.   Some of this has been explored brilliantly in various blogs.  Here is a selection:

There are also numerous blogs from Michael Fordham (Knowledge and curriculum – Clio et cetera), Clare Sealy (Memory not memories – teaching for long term learning…

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Blog of the Week: 11 May 2018 – How should students revise? A brief guide

chronotope

One of the biggest lessons from research is that many students don’t really know how to study. Various studies have shown that students rate re-reading and highlighting as the most effective ways of revising when in reality they are often a waste of time giving an illusion of competence in the short term at the expense of long term gains.

Students may spend large amounts of additional time studying despite no gain in later memory for the items, a phenomenon called ‘‘labour-in-vain’’ during learning (Nelson & Leonesio,1988). Recent research with educationally relevant materials has shown that repeatedly reading prose passages produces limited benefits beyond a single reading. (Karpicke, Roediger, Butler, 2009)

In contrast, retrieval practice, spacing and interleaving are some of the most productive ways of revising material but how many students are familiar with this? I think there is often a tendency to focus too much on what teachers…

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