Part 1: Why Successive Relearning (SR) – Socrates was right!

Using RememberMore and Successive Relearning in the Classroom

As with Meno’s boy, our students are finding that Successively Relearning (SR) past information provides benefits to the working memory, which freeing up the cognitive effort it takes to remember for higher level thought.

For the context of this post, see previous posts here

“It has been three weeks since Ben I started collaborating with RememberMore. It has been a fascinating, professionally rewarding, mainly digital, tennis conversation exchange, regarding the introduction of and then RememberMore app to his classes. Conversations tend to bookend day, with the occasional highlights, successes or Eureka moments casually posted to posthumously return to at the end of our busy teaching days. 

I hope it has been as rewarding for Ben as it has for me? 

Ahead of the introduction of CRM to his classes, I prewarned Ben that the start of teaching with CRM is sticky. CRM learning / retrieval is not an easy option and that the culture would shift in time. And when it did, it would be clear as day.”

Let the games begin –

Is the culture palpably different?

I’ve noticed a clear shift in culture in my classroom since the implementation of RememberMore:

PP boys are paying more attention, better tuned in to the lesson. While they may find themselves off task occasionally, they are usually the first to want to contribute when it comes to feedback. This is potentially down to a competitive factor among them that I wish to nurture (although not too much!).

Like Ben, we have had real success with our boys, not necessarily any type of boys, but boys generally..

Lesson transitions are also smoother – when given the CRM board and their questions, they are routined enough to know the drill. Grab book. Sit down. Focus. 100% (Deadpool reference). This was most palpably noticeable in an hour-long Latin literature lesson in Period 5 Friday. The psychological security that was assured with 3 rounds of CRM on the target literature, coupled with overt retrieval, and then onto a skeleton essay plan to compare literature. I was so impressed that I decided to push my luck, and ask the students to write up their comparison from the points we had come up with, and fed back on. To be sure, the students left tired, or rather challenged, but their willingness to take on that task speaks for the culture-shifting potential of CRM.

Where to start? Where this is just good, routines, teaching, or CRM, or something altogether different, I am not yet absolutely sure. What I am sure of is the CRM routine set up is electric, 10 seconds or less and I know I have eyes on the class. It is more instruction than teaching. And the class know what to do and how to behave. Moving that secure routine to something more adventurous, as above, gave me pause for thought.

When switching from covert to overt retrieval practice – I’ve noticed a real change in uptake on the task, as this has always been based on the confidence students have in themselves to be able to do it.

Ben’s observation here is fascinating. Those terms, covert and overt. 

Overt in retrieval studies requires a written / keyed or report answer. Covert typically refers to thought responses. Here, in our classes, Covert refers to verbal responses.

I concur – the verbal retrieval is more engaging, though there is no record.

Ben, how many lessons to secure the routine? First time around it was about 6-7 lessons (5-10 mins intros / Do Now style) for mixed prior attainment English Key Stage 3.

Ben, how many lessons to secure the routine? 

It took me 3 – 4 lessons with my KS4 Ancient History and Latin students. The routine took less than I expected due to the relative age in comparison with KS3! Of course, at this time of year, the students are primed for retrieval, revision, or however you wish to define it. I also consciously invested the time to explain the WHYs behind the system, and how Successive Relearning (retrieval practice and spacing) would help then now and later. 

How many lessons before you moved to covert retrieval? Again, for mixed prior attainment English Key Stage 3 we didn’t move to covert, verbal responses until 7-8th lesson in. Even then, it was a mix of recorded overt and a round of two of covert.

As for the change from overt to covert retrieval, it was a matter of gauging the room. The first few tries at it, I would show more clemency – supplying the answer myself or having students with their hands up to respond. I’d recommend “reorder” the same questions for the second round. I would instead use cold calling confident students. Third – try cold calling anyone in the room.

I got the sense the climate in the room was changing.

This post is co-posted with Kristian Still – English Teacher and Co-founder of RememberMore,

2 thoughts on “Part 1: Why Successive Relearning (SR) – Socrates was right!

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