Five Ways. A series of short posts summarising some everyday classroom practices.
It’s now very common practice for teachers to begin a lesson with some form of retrieval practice activity. This is a good, common sense idea – there’s good reason to begin a lesson by reviewing what was covered in the last lesson so that recently acquired knowledge and skills are activated and those early, tenuous connections reinforced. Routines around this might be influenced by the Do Now concept from Teach Like A Champion, the older ‘Lesson Starter’ concept or Rosenshine’s Daily Review from principles of instruction.
Whatever the origin, it’s good to have a range of well-understood approaches so that a) students know the routines and get going easily and b) revisit their knowledge in a variety of ways, building multiple connections. There’s a danger that, if daily review is rigidly repetitive, that students do not learn multiple ways to check their knowledge and typically explore ideas in similar ways leading to less flexible, more fragile knowledge.
Here are five ways to engage in daily review that can be mixed up to create variety in the ways knowledge is explored, revisited, rehearsed:
Pair Share: Review and Check
For me, this is the most simple and direct form of daily review. Ask students to review the previous lesson or a specific concept and then compare notes with their talk partner. This uses the standard Think, Pair, Share format with a definite period to think alone, before the pair-share part.
The question you ask could be:
- Summarise yesterday’s key learning points in three sentences.
- Imagine your partner was absent yesterday, what would you tell them we learned?
- Rehearse the explanation of the key concept we introduced last lesson.
The routine is then that you select respondents via cold calling. Students know the routine so they engage in the pair discussions in earnest. Sample some responses, recap and prompt for any gaps. Collect answers or show what you would have said – to give students a self-check reference. The value of this method is that it activates knowledge in a general sense – students explore their whole schema for the concept which complements other more focused quizzing techniques.
Quizzing. Test and Check
Quizzing always seems like an obvious thing to suggest but it’s all too easy to get stuck in a repetitive rut of always doing a five-a-day quiz of the same style every lesson, every day unless you explicitly seek to create variety in your approach. Different forms of quizzing have different routines and benefits:
- Board quiz: the questions are all on the board and students answer the questions that are set, at their own pace. The teacher then reveals the answers and students self-check or peer check.
- Paired quiz: Student A has a knowledge organiser or other resource and asks their partner B a series of questions. They are the quiz master for a few minutes – giving answers and correcting errors. Then they swap. Bs quiz As. Deciding the questions is a good part of the review process.
- Self quiz: Students are given prompts – eg unlabelled diagrams or quizzable ‘cover and check’ resources such as flash cards. They spend several minutes quizzing themselves, checking their own knowledge and then correcting errors.
In all three cases, all students are involved in reviewing what they know and what they’ve forgotten and the teacher can focus on common errors.
Multiple-Choice Check for Understanding Quiz
Set a small number of MCQs based on the recent lesson material. There are several main advantages to this approach
- Firstly, you have the option to run it like a short test or use miniwhiteboards (or fingers) to get quick whole-class responses to gain an idea of the range of answers across a class very rapidly – seeing the range of A, B, C, D… at one go.
- Secondly, you can design questions diagnostically so that wrong answers point to specific misconceptions.
- Finally, you can use a range of question styles that make students think in different ways whilst still only needing an ABCD answer. eg one is correct, odd one out, ‘which answers are correct’ (could be all or none), which images match the description; which have statements that are true and also explain the other statement… etc!
Look no further than Craig Barton’s epic diagnostic questions site for examples.
Write a paragraph
I’ve seen this used superbly well – for example in KS3 History, Geography and English lessons. The task is to activate recent knowledge by writing about it in a short checkable paragraph. This can be structured or more open-ended, depending on student confidence:
- Write a paragraph about the last chapter in Animal Farm including these words: Dystopia, Tyrant, Propaganda, Scapegoat
- Write a paragraph summarising the impact of the Kathmandu Valley earthquake.
Students can then share their paragraphs via a ‘show call’ process or by the teacher spotting good answers when circulating, sharing them via a visualiser or reading them out.
Solve Familiar Problems:
Another simple and obvious prompt for recall is to set questions or a task using ideas that were being tackled in the previous lesson.
- Problem sets: A standard set of questions – eg on the board – that are exactly like yesterday’s so students can quickly check they can remember how to do them.
- Goal Free problems: A more open approach such as – work out all the missing facts (angles, lengths) you can in this geometric shape. Or: read this passage (from yesterday’s lesson). Write down as much as you can about the language features being used (exactly like we did last lesson).
Then – reveal and discuss answers, checking a sample of students’ responses and supporting them to compare their efforts with your more definitive response.