Tomayto, tomahto, potayto, retrieval?

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What's in a name?

When we talk about retrieval practice, we describe it as "bringing information to mind" or "getting information out." We retrieve every day, all the time – from our favorite movie quotes to whether we turned off the kitchen stove (we hope you did).

Our shared vocabulary for "retrieval practice" helps us communicate and collaborate. But no matter what we call it, learning by any other name would be just as powerful!

This week, we present a variety of ways to describe "retrieval," an abstract concept with powerful everyday impact.

  1. Learn more about definitions of retrieval practice from Doug Lemov, collaborator, expert educator, and author of Teach Like a Champion 2.0.

  2. Check out what hundreds of educators from our community are saying about retrieval practice and add your definition!

How do you define retrieval practice? Share your ideas on Twitter and Facebook – favorite movie quotes encouraged.

Doug Lemov: Author of Teach Like a Champion 2.0

Former teacher, principal, and school founder Doug Lemov is no stranger to retrieval practice. In his book, Teach Like a Champion 2.0 (and the one before it), Doug's powerful teaching strategies integrate retrieval practice effortlessly, including his popular Do NowExit Tickets, and Wait Time strategies. Another reason we love Doug's strategies is because they can be adopted in any classroom for any student – K-12 to medical school.

Most recently, Doug has been blogging about retrieval practice in the classroom, including videos of retrieval in action (more coming soon!). Here's his valuable definition of retrieval practice:

"Retrieval Practice occurs when learners recall and apply multiple examples of previously learned knowledge or skills after a period of forgetting."

He breaks down his definition as follows:

  • Retrieval is relevant to skills (hitting a baseball, solving for perimeter of an octagon) or knowledge (dates in history; formulas, vocabulary).

  • In the classroom it involves groups of questions in blocks as opposed to arguing that I “ask retrieval questions all the time,” say.

  • It requires at least a short delay after something has been learned because once you’ve started to forget you have to work harder to remember and this creates a stronger neural pathway

For more from Doug Lemov and his insights on retrieval practice, visit Doug's blog and follow him on Twitter.


Retrieval Practice: How do you define it?

Have you seen our "retrieval practices about retrieval practice?" In our first one, we asked how you define retrieval practice. Here are five of our (many) favorites:

  • Having to strain your memory in order to do something previously learned

  • Reaching into the recesses of my brain to grab knowledge I've stored there either short or long term

  • Recalling what you have been learning without the pressure of having your results evaluated, but rather to help make the learning, through retrieval, permanent.

  • Digging for the information in your brain and bringing it up to the learning surface

  • The act of actively generating knowledge from memory as opposed to simply reading

How do you define retrieval practice? Take our retrieval practice and view definitions from hundreds of educators. (No tomatoes or potatoes required!)