Boost student presentations with student-led retrieval practice

It's the end of the school year! That means a lot of student presentations.

Take this opportunity for some student-led retrieval practice! We added this quick activity to final presentations this semester and students loved it. (Of course, they learned more, too!)

P.S. See below for our favorite book club response this week.


Presentation? Just add retrieval practice!


Student presentations are valuable. Students can demonstrate what they have learned and share it with others. But often, student presentations go in one ear and out the other. The presenters are retrieving, but everyone else in the room is simply getting information "in," just like re-reading or cramming.

Instead, have students lead a retrieval activity during their presentations.

Here are activity guidelines for students:

  • Focus on retrieval practice! Retrieval is for learning, not assessment.

  • Keep it no-stakes. Don't give students grades or points, and avoid competitive games that increase anxiety.

  • Please, don't throw candy. (Really. Don't.)

  • Keep it brief. The retrieval activity can be 5 minutes or less.

  • Use a variety of formats. The retrieval activity can include oral questions, a writing prompt, multiple-choice questions, short answer questions, using a tech tool or app, etc. Get creative!

  • Use spacing! Ask questions about information from earlier in the semester that's related to your presentation. And aim to increase retrieval throughout your presentation, not just at the end.

If your students look at you dumbfounded, remind them that you've been using retrieval practice the entire semester. Is there a particular retrieval activity they enjoy that you (the teacher) created? They can model and build from it. Besides, when everyone retrieves, everyone succeeds! (We couldn't resist.)

As one example, Retrieval Tic-Tac-Toe is a fantastic activity created by college students from Indiana. Engaging, quick, and powerful for long-term learning.

Put students in the driver's seat when presenting – and retrieving!


What are five words about learning?


We've already started our summer book clubs for Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning! This week, we asked: What are 5 words that come to mind when you think about learning?

Here's what teachers on Facebook shared. What are your 5 words?