A few months ago, I wrote a blog post called “Why I Killed My Starters”, in which I explained my reasons for moving from whizzbangy opening activities to low stakes quizzes which draw on content from previous lessons. The post, which was featured on TeacherTapp (thanks for that!), quickly became one of my most read.
The school and MAT I now work for is, hearteningly, ahead of me; all lessons already begin with short tests. Teachers are skilled at planning these and pupils now accept and appreciate them as helpful and necessary parts of teaching-learning sequences.
Such an approach is of course already very familiar to teachers both today and in the past. Cognitive psychology offers compelling and convincing explanations for why generations of teachers have found retrieval practice effective. Very briefly, we now know that the effortful retrieval of previously covered content re-enforces memories, so building and then…
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