10 ways to get students to remember more

Elena Diaz
Elena Díaz is an experienced Head of MFL, Research Lead, Associate Consultant and a Specialist Leader in Education who has held a variety of pastoral and academic positions in schools across the Northeast. She is an author and presenter and has worked with Pixl, Seneca Learning, Quizlet and the Association of Language Learning. She currently works full time at the NELT Bedlington Academy in Northumberland and acts as an Associate Consultant for Durham Education. 
 
Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You're all busy people, so this is a quick summary of the techniques I use to get my students to remember more of what they know. The reason why they work so well is, I believe, because I use them all, all the time. 

1. Connect and smart consolidate

Connect

As students come into the room, there are 6 words on the board for them to translate into or from English. 2 of the words are from last term, 2 from last week, 2 from last lesson. No books allowed. 

Why they work:

  • The task is exactly the same every lesson, so I don’t have to spend time explaining what to do.  
  • They take seconds to mark. 
  • They are valuable low-stakes testing.
  • Words can be selected to prepare students for the lesson as well as to remind them of previous words.

A picture containing text

Description automatically generated

Consolidate

I finish the lesson 5 minutes before bell and on the board there are key words or sentences that test students on what has been learnt in the lesson. No books allowed.

What’s good about them:

  • They show students what they key learning of that lesson was. 
  • They make students revisit the information and therefore they aid recall. 
  • They tell me how well students remember the learning.
  • They show students they have made progress.
  • They give students a sense of achievement. 

A picture containing graphical user interface

Description automatically generated

 2. Objectives slide

At the beginning of every lesson, I show students the objectives for the entire module. I talk them through what we have done and what we will be doing in future, with quick examples. There are many benefits to this, but memory is one of the main ones. 

A picture containing diagram

Description automatically generated

3. Objective recap

Before introducing new content, I go back through all previous objectives from the module. 

For every objective I have a visual from the lesson where we learnt it. This visual has all the key language. 

Students spend 30 seconds on each objective, testing each other in TL on words from the visual. They are taught to choose words that will challenge their partners.

4. Making connections sentences

Either after each previous objective or after all of them, students translate making connections sentences. There are always two of them. The first one is taken directly from the objective’s visual. The second one uses the objective’s grammar point in a context studied earlier in the year. 

This acts as a useful reminder but crucially, it teaches students that grammar is transferable across topics. 

   

5. Cumulative key tasks every 4-6 lessons

These are key assessed pieces that the whole department complete. As the module progresses, they include elements from all units. This example is from Key Task 4, which assesses knowledge from all units in the module. 

Additionally, students are marked on the same 20 points of grammar every time they complete an assessment or a key task. 

Table

Description automatically generated

6. Vocab tests with every key task and assessment

Every key task or assessment comes with a 20-word vocab test, containing words from all modules studied so far. 

Table

Description automatically generated

7. Cumulative Quizlet vocab lists

In order to prepare students for their vocab tests, I have created Quizlet vocabulary lists that include all vocab learnt so far, but no future vocab. Students are asked to spend 5 or ten minutes a day studying this vocab, independently of their homework.

A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generated   

8. Throwback homework

This is simply homework tasks belonging to previous topics. 

9. Repetition activities for the classroom

Self-explanatory, really. These are my favourite 5:

Guessing game

  • Partner A thinks of a sentence from a sentence builder. 
  • Partner B guesses the sentence with 2 rules.
    • They can only guess one column at a time
    • Whether they get the guess right or wrong, they will have to start their next guess from the beginning of the sentence 

X Factor

  • Partner A is the judge.
  • Partner B has to say a sentence from a complex sentence builder without looking at the board/sheet.  
  • Partner A says NO (or makes a buzzer sound) every time partner B makes any mistake. 
  • Partner B can peek before trying again but must always start from the beginning. 

Sentence chaos

  • Partner A says a phrase from the board (chosen randomly).
  • Partner B repeats that phrase and adds one.
  • Partner A repeats all sentences said so far and adds another one, etc.  

Cumulative translation

  • Partner A is a referee and has the answers. 
  • Partner B translates sentence one. If they get it right, they move on. If they get it wrong, they lose their turn and Partner C has a go. 
  • Students always have to go back to sentence 1. 

Use Insert – SmartArt on Word to get this editable template. 

Disappearing sentence

  • A complex sentence is on the board. Students read it out loud. 
  • A word turns into a gap. Students read the whole sentence out loud. 
  • Another word turns into a gap. Students read the sentence, and so on. 

This can be differentiated by showing the English version of the sentence.  

Graphical user interface

Description automatically generated

10. Online self-testing

Quizlet, Memrise and other similar testing apps are great for memory and can be used in a variety of ways. 

Multiple choice 

I love using the Learn option of Quizlet, answers in Spanish and only multiple choice. Students respond to this quiz by writing a number from 1-4 on scrap paper. 

Sentence translation

I also make Quizlet vocab lists with whole sentences and ask students to go on the write option, answers in Spanish. The aim is to keep going until they get all the sentences perfectly right. This works particularly well if the sentences are complex and few. 

Graphical user interface, application, Teams

Description automatically generated   Graphical user interface, application, Teams

Description automatically generated

 Looking for more resources to support your teaching and learning? Check out the best education technology resources on our sister platform EdTech Impact.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now
Login

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"