When you read our email updates (thank you!), do you sometimes wonder how you'll ever find the time for retrieval practice during your lessons?
You're not alone. Balancing retrieval practice with the amount of content you have to cover is tricky – and unfortunately, all too common.
That being said, you're asking the wrong question. Read on and learn how to use retrieval practice to save class time, not spend it.
P.S. Did you take our interleaving quiz last week? Try it for yourself!
How can I cover the same amount of material?
Earlier today, a history teacher from Canada asked us this question:
"How do I balance retrieval practice with new content? Our curriculum is just so heavy in terms of scope, but very broad with little support. I am struggling."
We know! This is tough. There's so much we need and want to cover, but we also want students to remember that content, too. How can we implement retrieval practice, spacing, interleaving, and metacognition strategies in our classrooms, but cover all our course content, too?
This question pops up frequently when we give professional development, but it's the wrong question to be asking. Here's what you should be asking instead:
How can retrieval practice save me time, not spend it?
Here's how: Make sure that time spent teaching is time spent learning. Take what you're already doing and find opportunities to swap reviewing for retrieval practice. For example, instead of telling students, "Here's what we did yesterday," simply ask them, "What did we do yesterday?" Same amount of time, same amount of content, but way more learning.
How does this save you time? You can stop re-teaching. You can spend less time reviewing past content because students will remember more. You and your students can look forward to new content, not behind. Hurray!
As cognitive scientist Joseph Kim put it, ask yourself this question, too:
Am I giving lessons to be remembered or lessons to be forgotten?
The punchline: Retrieval practice saves time. Research in middle school, college, and medical school classrooms demonstrates that students remember more and forget less with retrieval practice. Yes, you can cover the same amount of content and make it more memorable for students, too.
How are you saving time with retrieval practice? Let us know via email, Twitter, and Facebook!