I was very excited to hear this session and given the buzz in the room, so were many others. There was a lot of audience contribution and feedback as the session went on.
As Rory points out, the brain is good at remembering but also at forgetting.
Spaced repetition Ebbinghaus, 1885 - how do you avoid a drop off of memory?
Rory recommended that material be reviewed after one day, one week and one month. One day review makes a big impact so tell them when you would like them to do the HW. The month review is the issue.
Old school is the Leitner system which they use in Germany (according to someone in the audience) pupils move forward a box as they learn the information.
Rory asked if we did a test of 20 words and only had 1 min to learn it, what would we do? Suggestions from the audience included:
Make a weird picture in your head, place the objects in the picture.
Tell yourself a story.
Categorise words - classic cheat to learn words, more likely to learn a couple per category than 5 total.
Rory then moved on to talking about Spaced learning, stating that the spaces between the learning are key, as they allow the brain time to process rather than cognitive overload. It doesn't matter what you do in the rest sessions so long as it's not cognitive. It's good to do something physical. eg get them to follow you down the corridor, get them to think about how they walk, what do their legs do, etc
Here's a quick explanation of Spaced Learning in Languages (not as well expressed as Rory explained it)
1) Using Quizlet flashcards, do 10 minutes quick fire shouting out the TL and English for c.75 single words. Tell the pupils not to worry about trying to remember them, to just let it wash over them.
2) Take 10 mins rest doing something non-cognitive like making animals out of paper or Play Doh.
3) Do 10 -15 minutes quite fast, going back over the flashcards, give them a hook or get them to think of one for as many of the words as possible.
4) Do 10 minutes of yoga breathing.
5) 10-15 minutes for the final test of the new information. Give them the flashcard on the board and the whole class shouts out the answer. Try to keep the whole class on board.
NB A key point is that there is no writing down.
The problem is the forgetting. According to Rory, kids can remember 30-40 words of the 75 at the end of an hour. They need to consolidate and revisit the vocabulary.
Rory suggests doing this at the beginning of a chapter. Pull out the easy ones that they already have, depending on the class. Another idea is that you could do phrases e.g. You could do 20 A* CA phrases.
You can measure progress because you can do a test (maybe for the 3rd session in the lesson) or set HW and do the test the next week. Testing is a good way of memorising.
Spaced both ways - some key points.
- As teachers, we do something and move on, so it's not in their long-term memory, we need to come back to it but just at the right time (one week later and then one month later)
- Move on even if not mastered and come back
- Interleaving (I need to check this out)
- Drilling the perfect tense for two weeks = brain overload. This is a way round this.
This session struck an immediate chord with me and after some gentle persuasion on Twitter, the legend that is Rory Gallagher produced a 5 minute relaxation podcast for me to use in class. Our periods are 35 mins, so I did 30 words, 5 mins Play Doh to make the best animals, 10 mins to go back through the vocab finding hooks, 5 mins relaxation podcast and then a check on recall of the vocabulary. I have already done this with both Upper 6 classes as well as my class of 28 Form 4s (Year 10 in England) and all the pupils were very engaged and felt that it had helped them. I was particularly pleased with their attitude to the podcast, especially given that half of the Form 4 are boys and the potential for chaos was fairly high. I'll let you know the longer-term results and feedback.