See how Amber Turner, a French teacher at Alfred Deakin High School, uses spacing and retrieval practice in her classes.
Watch Spacing and retrieval | Alfred Deakin High School | Australian Education Research Organisation on YouTube.

Duration: 3:04

Spacing and retrieval involves separating learning over multiple lessons and providing opportunities for students to recall what they have previously learned in different contexts. In this video, we spoke to Amber, a French Teacher at Alfred Deakin High School, about how she uses spacing and retrieval practice with her classes. 


Amber Turner (voiceover):

Spacing is where you teach students some sort of content to start off with and then you do a deep dive into it and then you start moving on to the next part of that content. You give it a little break for a while and then you weave it back in after they've learned some new things.

Retrieval practice is where students are able to recall content that they've learned from earlier on and use it in a new context. It helps them feel more successful because they're more easily able to recall original content that they learn, and they also embed it in their long term memory and gives them that tool that makes them feel confident enough to participate in all the activities as well.

The way that I use spacing is I teach say vocabulary set one for four lessons then I quiz and then I start moving on to vocabulary set two. And probably about lesson six, I start to weave back in items from vocabulary set one. In my lessons I use spaced retrieval practice through the various activities that I do.

They range from 10 to 15 minutes long and all of the activities have vocabulary from previous sets woven in through activities, depending on where we're up to.

Amber Turner (to the class):

I'm going to read out some sentences to you guys in English, and you have to just translate them into French. So, we’ll start off with some really short little phrases. Some of the words are going to be from our first set of vocabulary, and some are going to be from this set of vocabulary.

Amber Turner (voiceover):

You just split it up into the different times throughout the unit that you want to teach it, and then you can add in the retrieval throughout the unit wherever you want to target it best.

I use formative assessment in almost every activity I do in the classroom, I do quizzes every fortnight just to check in how they're going at the end of each item and whether we need to revisit or weave it in a bit earlier or mini whiteboards are really a good way to get really quick feedback on where your students are and how they're feeling about the content, and also it makes students feel supported as well because they can see other student’s answers and they feel more confident writing their own.

You can see the success that they feel and the students that you think normally wouldn't engage because they feel like their literacy is low. They know that they can recall the stuff that they've learned in the first couple of weeks, and we always use it again and they know what to expect the next time around, and they know that that's something that they can get right.

You can see the joy on their faces. Spacing and retrieval practice can be used across all subjects, and it definitely should be. Your students feel more successful, engagement is higher in the classroom and hopefully they learn it for the rest of their lives.

Keywords: lesson planning, student learning