Spaced Learning               Matthew Chapman


Many years ago a pupil once informed me that history must have been easier...
1. Ten minute PowePoint presentation of key facts with lots of colourful images that will

form associations in the pupil’...
5. To finish with I run through the PowerPoint again and the pupils tell me about the

information it contains. They can b...
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Spaced learning

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Spaced learning

  1. 1. Spaced Learning Matthew Chapman Many years ago a pupil once informed me that history must have been easier when I was at school. When I asked him why, his answer was immediate: “Because there was less of it Sir!” This story highlights an issue that many of our pupils raise; how do I remember so much stuff? It can seem incredibly daunting and puts many people off even attempting to try. I was thinking about how to tackle this issue when I came across the idea of ‘Spaced Learning’. It seems that neuroscientists have discovered how the brain actually creates memories. If you want to discover more, then I suggest that you look up the work of Douglas Fields at the National Institute for Child Health and Development in the US. To sum it up, they discovered that fixed pathways are formed within the brain when there are fixed ‘spaces’ between stimulation. When this is transferred to a classroom situation it could result in certain lessons that have the following structure: • Teacher input of key facts/explanations ( and therefore pathway stimulation) • 10 minute ‘break’ from the input • Teacher Input of key facts/explanations • 10 minute ‘break’ from the input • teacher input of key facts / explanations Many critics of ‘Spaced Learning’ have pointed out that it does not create what might be termed deep learning. I would certainly agree with this, but as a tool to be used solely as a way of revising key information I have found that results have been encouraging. The pupils enjoy it is a change and they do seem to remember more. I tend to organize a revision session in the following way.
  2. 2. 1. Ten minute PowePoint presentation of key facts with lots of colourful images that will form associations in the pupil’s brain. In a pressured exam situation I hope that a lot of these images and associations will pop in to the students mind. e.g. to remember the name Bevan I might have the following pictures: Bevan = Bee Van 2. Ten minute period where the pupils carry out a ball throwing exercise around the room; it has also been shown that some kind of physical activity in the ‘space’ aids the formation of long term memories. 3. Ten minute period where the students create a mind map or list of facts that they remember form the PowerPoint. 4. Split the class in two teams and play a game of ‘mind football’. I will ask a key question from the presentation and throw the ball to a pupil. If they can answer the question then their team receives a point. The ball is returned to me and the next question is asked and the ball thrown. There are lots of variations of this game but they all involve keeping the students alert and thinking.
  3. 3. 5. To finish with I run through the PowerPoint again and the pupils tell me about the information it contains. They can be encouraged to shout this out rather than put their hands up, but it is amazing how difficult they find this, even the ones that you often ask not to shout out in normal lessons! The schools that have really taken Spaced Learning seriously run input sessions in the sports hall, and have the pupils throwing basket balls etc in the ‘spaces’. I have adapted their ideas to a classroom situation. I am not sure that they are pure ‘Spaced Learning’ yet but the pupils do seem to remember who Bevan is, I have not managed to think of a suitable association yet for Robert Koch, one of the founders of bacteriology.

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