Blog Archive

Sunday 10 March 2019

Retrieval Practice - Tom Sherrington's Latest Post

As we all focus intently on preparing our year 11 cohort for the most hectic and important period in their young lives, we often turn to discussions surrounding revision strategies, overwhelming demands on content recollection and exam technique. Tom Sherrington certainly read my thoughts on this matter with his most recent post on 'Retrieval Practice'. 

Whilst we must all ensure these strategies are not used as a 'sticking plaster' approach this late in the academic careers of Year 11 (there are many strategies that are implemented even at primary school level), it would be remiss of me to highlight their value now whilst in the midst of planning Easter Revision courses, Intervention Sessions and 1:1 tutoring. I certainly know I will be implementing some of the strategies into my GCSE classes this week!

For those looking for a quick read (although the full article is linked below should you prefer to go straight to the source), Tom suggests the following strategies:

1. Quick Fire Quiz - 1-5 or 1-10 knowledge checkers that students have a time limit to answer and can be actively recorded on mini whiteboards, post-it notes.
2. Paper Quiz - Everyone gets a copy of the questions and can write down their answers at their own pace, in their own order but within the time limit.
3. Silent Self-Quiz - Students can be checked for definitions of key words and then can mark them privately and repeat if necessary within their own time.
4. Paired Quiz - one student can be given a series of questions on cue cards or the Kagan structure of Quiz-Quiz-Trade can be used within this scenario.
5. Self Explanation - Students are given a few silent moments to explain something to themselves before questioning begins. Mental rehearsal helps students to self-check and build perseverance.
6. Demonstration and Performance - Ask students to show you what they know through a technique, a procedure or a routine.
7. Elaborative Interrogation - Focusing retrieval on 'how' and 'why' question stems that allow for a deeper level of thinking.
8. Tell the story; rehearse the explanation - Provide students with a list of key vocabulary that often needs to be retrieved in order and ask them to devise a story that links the words together. They then add layers of explanation each time they re-tell the story.
9. Summarising - 30 or 40 word challenges are often a useful strategy to ask students to summarise their knowledge and understanding concisely and specifically.
10. Map and Compare - Ask students to produce a memory map of key aspects and then encourage them to self-check against their knowledge organisers, glossarys, specifications or revision checklists.

All credit for the strategies in this post must go to Tom Sherrington and further discussion of how to implement all ten can be found at: