“So you’re saying that we should only teach new material for 15 minutes in a 45 minute period?” That was the question on all of our minds after Audra and Scot explained their example lesson plan. Since most of us have been sitting in graduate level courses for the past year or two, the idea of repetition in teaching is somewhat foreign to us. However, if you think about the basics of learning, repetition is key. None of us learned to read, write, spell, or perform basic math functions like multiplication and division without lots of repetition. How long did it take you to memorize your times tables? I remember spending almost all of second grade going over them again and again.
Of course, learning shouldn’t always be reduced to repetition and memorization. As teachers, we should also teach students the skills they need in order to be able to self-learn. If you think about it, these skills involve repetition. Things like going over your notes after class, making flash cards to study, editing your essays, explaining what you know to a friend, taking sample exams. As adults, companies try to sell us tools that will help us learn new material. Their secret? Repetition.
In his 9th grade math class, Trenton ensures that his students will practice the same type of problem several times over the course of a class period by creating lesson plans with built-in repetition. First, students work review problems on their own, then the class goes over them on the board. Next, new material is introduced: the class works problems together, then students work on their own, then they help other students. Finally, students work practice problems for homework. The next day, the whole process is repeated as students go over their homework and work review problems.
I do. We do. You do.
Repetition is the mother of learning.