Learning starts with how we remember information. Memory involves three stages: encoding, consolidation, and retrieval. Students encode information as they first learn it, but if they can’t retrieve the information later, it’s hard to use it. Thankfully, the retrieval process gives students the chance to reinforce information. Every time students pull from their long-term memory, the pathway to that memory is strengthened, and it gets easier to retrieve that same memory each time.
To improve retrieval, Willy Wood recommends teachers use the Interleaved Practice technique. Instead of spending an entire class on one topic, teachers split the class into different topics. For example, in social studies, instead of teaching about the executive branch of the government for an hour, the teacher splits that class into three parts and teaches a little about each branch of government. Then the next day, the class goes over those three topics again in one class. If students spend one day on one topic then move on to a different topic the next day they don’t get a chance to retrieve the information they learned the first day. Using the Interleaved Practice technique allows students to go home and consolidate what they have learned and then retrieve it the next day, thus strengthening their memory.