Retrieval of Knowledge

knowledgeI have always considered myself a vaguely successful maths teacher and yet I realised last year that I have never actually considered how the students in my classroom think or learn. This changed last year when I started reading educational research and I discovered how I’d probably been  going about  things all wrong  in the classroom for the last 13 years. Specifically I had an interest in memory and cognitive load theory since thinking and learning are such important parts of teaching.  One of my main frustrations with the students was their ability to recall information taught in the day, week or month previous. So I began trying to research why and what I could do in the classroom to help. One of the articles I came across said ‘retrieval is a powerful memory modifier’ and this stuck with me and my quest to work on information retrieval techniques began.

One of first things I did was to introduce the idea of exit tickets. Either at the end of one lesson, or the beginning of the next I would set 2/3 questions to see if they had understood and could recall under test conditions the content of a previous lesson. I complete these every 2/3 lessons with all classes years 7-13. The pupils seem to like them as almost instantaneous feedback is given and the pressure of a low stakes quiz is minimal.  It is also important to sometimes mix up topics and questions so they have to recall information learnt last week or last term.

What is amazing for me to see is that now this is not only something which is done in the maths department but across subjects. I have included one of mine and a few examples of other exit tickets used across the school.




Philosophy and Ethics:

philisophy and ethics

Another idea connected to low stakes quizzes was ‘Throwback Thursday’ where each week the students get a questions from ‘last week’, ‘last week’ and ‘last term’.  Again, my example is below followed by more examples from other departments.

maths 4maths 5



languageslanguages 2Once a week every class in all years get a 10 question skills check. Straight forward, basic skills check on anything and everything. The topics remain the same for each half term but questions change so they are recalling the information every week for 6 weeks.   Again, here is an example of what I use, followed by other examples.
maths 6





languages 3
languages 4By Alison Benn (T&L Team)