Interleaving is a roll of the dice (and that's a good thing!)

How can we use interleaving without planning?

Last week, we wrote about interleaving (and fruit salad). The key to effective interleaving is to mix up similar topics, which encourages students to discriminate between similar ideas, concepts, and problems.

This week, learn about quick and fun strategies for interleaving in the classroom that put students in charge – more learning for them, less planning for us. Who knew dice, fishbowls, and fruit could have so much in common?

Put Students in Charge of Interleaving

Interleaving our class topics can seem challenging – whether we plan in advance or do it on the fly. That's why we love these strategies to put students in charge of mixing it up!

Interleaving Dice Game

  1. Students pair up or join small groups

  2. Students get a list of similar vocabulary words, math problems, or related concepts

  3. One student rolls a die (or dice for more than 6 items)

  4. The student who rolls, retrieves! (define, apply, solve)

  5. The other student provides feedback

  6. Switch turns

Voilà! Because the list already contains similar concepts, students are taking charge of interleaving, retrieving, and feedback, all by the roll of a dice.

Modifications to the Dice Game

No dice? No problem! There are many virtual "dice rollers" online, like this one.

Want to interleave as a whole class? Play the Fishbowl Game! Write your concepts on slips of paper and put them in a fishbowl, a hat, or even a shoe. Have a student draw a slip randomly, followed by a quick think-pair-share before drawing the next one.

What about upper grade levels? Try a "lightening round" where one student calls out concepts from a list at random, students retrieve and write down their answers, and everyone checks their answers at the end of the round.

How can we make this even more challenging, which is good for learning? Create a list of past topics that are related to current topics, boosting learning with even more spacing. Better yet, have your students create the list!

Remember: Keep these activities no-stakes! Retrieval practice is a learning strategy, not an assessment strategy.


For Your Reading & Viewing Pleasure

Can't get enough research and strategies on interleaving? You're in luck!

First, check out this superb article about interleaving from the Scientific American and how interleaving can improve learning everything from baseball to medicine.

Second, we're on YouTube! Click below to watch a brief video with the lead author of our Interleaving Guide, Doug Rohrer, and enjoy more videos by cognitive scientists, educators, collaborators on our channel.