Brain Based Science: The Art of the Review

As we remember, we etch lines and pattern in the soft surface; then time- the great eraser- slowly smooths the lines away, causing us to forget. ~ Plato

Review. Don't Forget

One of the challenges we teachers encounter every school year is the pressure to cover the content or curriculum set forth for us.

You are time pressured. The hectic school schedule full of school activities and disruptions add to your stress of trying to cover the material you have set out to do.

So what do we do? We zoom through the content. You bombard the students with information. Study this, Study that, we tell them.

And then you say, “Prepare for a quiz tomorrow.”

We miss an important element in learning : REVIEW

When do you give your class a review?

A day before the long test?

A day before the final exams?

Ask them to review on their own?

Why are we surprised or annoyed that students forget easily the next day what we have discussed the other day, or worse, a few minutes ago?

Brain Science tells us that that 90% of information is forgotten within 24 hours.

No wonder your students come in the next day and it is as if they were absent in your class yesterday.

The missing element therefore is REVIEW.

Cramming is not learning. It’s simply dumping information in the short term memory. The brain cannot process so much information at one go. It has to process it and if there is no processing, there simply is no learning.

Tip: Teach in small and short chunks. Then give time for processing before going to the next small chunk of content. 

According to Eric Jensen, one of the leading experts in Brain Based Science, review is a critical component to create long term memories.

He suggests the following specifications for Review.

  • Review information 10 minutes after learning
  • Review information 1 day after learning
  • Review information 1 week after later
Continue review after 1 week but at longer intervals.
This is what he terms as distributed practice. By consistently reviewing material, neural connections are strengthened and ensures the transfer of information from the short term memory to the long term memory.
The BEM Principle

According to LeAnn Nickelsen, author of Memorizing Strategies and other Brain Based Activities, psychologists have this concept of BEM that is about how people are most likely to recall information.

BEM stands for Beginning, End and Middle.

This simply means that your students will remember best the information they learned first, followed by the information they learned last.

They remember the least the information in the middle.

This principle highlights the importance of using creative teaching methods and hooking them right at the beginning.

Remember E is for End and so you should take advantage of the ending part of your class session. Make it powerful and remarkable because students remember information best at the end.

End with a bang

One way to end with a bang is through reviews.

Here are some ideas for the review:

  • Use a mind map to review the information tackled for that session
  • Use of an exit ticket, wherein students write on a piece of paper 2-3 things they have learned in that session and things that were unclear for them
  • Pop quizzes can be used as a tool for review immediately after a learning session and not as a threat to make students study at home
  • Have students draw out what they have learned, or anything else that proves they have understood the topic

Here are sentence starters suggested by Nickelsen that your students can use for the review exit tickets:

  1. I learned…
  2. I’m beginning to wonder…
  3. I feel…
  4. I rediscovered…
  5. The most important thing about …. is……
  6. I can relate to…. because….

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What are your thoughts about review? Do you give enough review sessions in your class? What are your favorite review strategies?

Share them in the comments below :)

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Argee Abadines

Argee Abadines is the founder and chief content engineer of this website. He is a brain based educator and his educational interests are higher order thinking, creativity, and educational technology. He currently teaches high school business studies and economics. Previously, he taught English to primary students. He reads up regularly about trends in education and online media. You can visit his personal blog at pinoyminimalist.com

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