20 Ideas for student led retrieval practice

There is currently a lot of ideas on twitter about the retrieval practice and the testing effect. If you have come across this blog and are not familiar then I suggest you spend some time reading this research by Karpicke and Grimaldi , I would pay a visit to this website  from by

I have blogged a few ideas about how I have used it, as a classroom teacher however I wanted to explore more ideas about how students could be trained to retrieve knowledge in the classroom and at home.

The following are some ideas that are tried and tested and some ideas that I want to explore in more detail.

1)      Flashcards: I am going to spend time explaining to students how to use flashcards effectively. Much of this is based on this blog I discovered from  by Rachel Adranga. This gives ideas on how to use flashcards along side” instruction” flash cards. I am also pushing students to create their flashcards using dual coding. 

2)      Self Quizzing: this one is basic however so many students just ‘read’ notes and do not quiz themselves from this information. I encourage students to write questions from their notes so they quiz each other and self test at a later date. I have even got students to create their own retrieval grids to quiz one another. Download the grid from TES for free.

retreivalown

3)      Parent Based Quizzing: To support this I have sent parents and carers a bank of questions and answers (via the school VLE) so quizzing can be done at outside of school, ending the need of the question “but what else can they do at home?”. I will reflect and review this later, as this has only just been done. 

4)      Seneca Learning: While we are on the subject of self quizzing, the Seneca learning platform is a brilliant resource for students to do just this. It is free to sign up to and I have just completed a review of how my students find it HERE.  Seneca can also be found on twitter and I have also blogged about Seneca Learning before in these blogs:

5)      Revision Guides/Textbooks: Not just reading them but using them to self quiz and test. Make good use of the questions and answers in the books, cover and write and repeat etc. If there isn’t any questions and answers embedded at the back then there is a great blog here -again from blog pages that details a brilliant method in retrieving information.

6)      A Question A Day: I have created a question a day from January up to the summer exams. I have given these out at parents evenings in the past. I have examples for you to use for the 2019 summer exams.

7)      Mindmaps: Students not only create mindmaps from keyfacts but also self test from the information. It is important students use the idea of dual coding on mindmaps and do not overfill with too much text and  highlighting text. Then try and recreate it all from memory. More ideas can be found from this website.

8)      Quizlet: I have personally not used quizlet however lots of teachers on twitter have commented on how great it is for knowledge retrieval. There are plenty of other flashcards already made my teachers that students can use. Join up here: https://quizlet.com/latest

9)      Heads Up/Taboo: Students can create keywords and terms, mix them up and put them on their forehead. Other students, then have to try and explain what that keyword is without saying it. This aids retrieval from all students – even if it is repeated, the jogging of the memory will hopefully bring up more key terms.

10)   A to Z: A very simple exercise, students jot down A to Z on a bit of paper. They then have to recall key terms for each of the letters they have written down. Download a free template from TES for this from my TES SHOP.

11)   Kahoot: students can set up their own Kahoot and test each other. Like quizlet there are plenty of quizzes already made which you can find here https://kahoot.com/

12)   Homework: As soon as students start their GCSE science course, I prepare them by only setting past paper questions. I then collect these in after students have self marked them and corrected mistakes. In year 11 I give these home learning sheets back and students can use them to self quiz at home. I written how I use this here: How To Solve A Problem Like….Homework

13)   Past papers: These are great, not only for understanding how exam boards write questions in conjunction with their mark schemes and easing anxiety towards their exams. If used in ‘exam conditions’ they promote retrieval in its most basic form. has written an article here on 10 ways to use past papers

14)   Write their own exam style questions: Students write their own exam style questions and quiz each other.

15)   Venn Diagrams: After reading a text, if appropriate students create a venn diagram. Re-read and add the venn diagram. They can then try and recreate it from memory.

16)   Knowledge organisers: If you have jumped on the band wagon like myself and created knowledge organisers it is important to challenge students in not just reading them but recreating them in order to make the knowledge stick. There are plenty of free physics and chemistry knowledge organisers in my TES shop https://www.tes.com/teaching-resources/shop/TRJ

17)   Wordsearch: Challenge students with a wordsearch not by just giving them one to complete but to create one with clues.

18)   Crossword: See 17) Wordsearch

19)   Brian Dump: After reading their notes ask students to write as much as they can from memory. More information can be found here https://www.retrievalpractice.org/strategies/2017/free-recall

20)   Quiz & Trade: Students write 3 of their own questions on one side of a piece of paper and the answers on the reverse. They then go around the classroom and quiz each other with their own questions. If a student they are testing gets it wrong they put a tally next to the incorrect question. After the questions have been exhausted then students swap questions and test somebody.

Have you used any of these strategies? how have you found them? What other ideas do you have?

12 thoughts on “20 Ideas for student led retrieval practice

  1. I’ve used all of these with my one to one pupils, except word searches as they’re not so good for pupils with literacy difficulties. The brain dump is a great one to start with as it helped highlight to me what my pupil had understood and which elements of a lesson are resonating with them. I could then work out why and adapt my teaching accordingly.
    I would also use visualisation and ask my pupils to picture their day and walk me through it. Trying to get them to remember physical details of the maths room for example before trying to recall the activities they did during that lesson. If pupils were able to get into the habit of recalling their day, I was hopeful that this would improve their metacognition as they would be mindful that they would be asked details of their day later.
    I was always talking to my pupils about becoming active in lessons and reminding their brains that they are learning…
    Thank you for all the links to people to follow on twitter and further research. This is a great blog.

    Like

    1. Thanks Kelly. I agreed about wordsearches – normally I stay well away for many different reasons however if students create their own they will produce ones which are for their own ability. Thanks for reading and contributing.

      Like

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