- First: We are likely to remember the beginning of events or the first series of events
- Reviewed: Recall falls rapidly after 24 hours without review
- Outstanding: We remember outstanding/unusual/strange things exceedingly well
- Linked: Recall is high for things that are linked by mnemonics or analogy
- Last: We are most likely to remember the end of events or the last in a series of events
I refer to these with the mnemonic FROLL -- the Finnish cousin of the Norwegian Troll! Research has proved that for someone to have a recall of 90% for material taught 24 hours back, the message needs to be delivered six times! I know many smart people may scoff at this, but that's true!
So how do you achieve this? I've often heard the following lines from successful training practitioners:
"Tell them what you're going to tell them,
Then tell them,
And then tell them what you told them."
One of the often neglected parts of training is interim review. A strong system of interim reviews, not just strengthens understanding, but also increases recall. That said reviews are often boring and the simple "trainer asks questions - students give answers" method isn't the most engaging for learners. If you were to go back to the FROLL, this method is simply not "Outstanding". Here are some of my favorite methods of reviewing learning in a classroom.
- Line Jump (TPR): This is a simple review and requires little or no preparation. Look at the previous day's learning and come up with a list of True/ False statements. Move furniture to the sides of the room. Ask all students to stand in a line (two or more lines with large classes). Tell students that you will read a question. If the answer is yes (true), they all have to jump to their right. If it is no (false), they all have to jump to their right, if it is no (false), they all have to jump to their left. Students who jump the wrong way are out and have to stand/ sit out of the activity. They can help the teacher monitor or police the activity.
- Running Dictation: Print out a list of multiple choice questions on a sheet of paper. Divide the class into teams. Get into a seated position and use a wooden ruler/ book/ sheet of paper to hide the questions when necessary. One runner from each runs to read the first question with the Trainer. They run back to their groups and dictate the question. Groups then discuss and agree on an answer and send another runner back to Trainer with written answer. If correct, the runner gets to see second question. If wrong the runner's sent back to group to try again. First group to finish wins.
- Scavenger Hunts/ Reading Race: Suitable for any question and answer type activity. Put students into teams and assign each student in the team a number, beginning at the number one. Stick up answers randomly around the room. Tell students that you will call out one runner from each team at a time. For example, "Runner number four, start running!". Stick up answers randomly around the room. Tell students that you'll call out one runner from each team at a time. They can choose any answer in the room. The read and remember the answer, run back to their team and dictate the answer to the team. The team then has to match the answer to the correct question. When they've done this, the second runner can run and read another answer. the team with the most correct answers wins.
- The whiteboard table filling race: Suitable for matching type activities. you will need one board pen for each team. Divide the class into teams. Draw a table on the whiteboard with the number of columns corresponding to the number of teams. The number of rows should correspond to the number of matches, or questions. Move furniture and have teams stand in lines in front of the board. Call out one question number at random and ask the first runner from each team to run and write the correct answer in the space provided. Every correct answer wins a point for the team. All runners then return to the back of their team line and the trainer proceeds with another question for the second runner.
- Run and touch team race: Suitable when answers can be stuck around the classroom. Stick answers randomly around the room. Put students into teams and assign each student in the team a number beginning at the number one. Read one of the questions and ask the first runner from each team to run and touch the correct answer. The first student to touch the correct answer wins a point for his/ her team. All runners then return to their teams and the teacher proceeds with another question for the second runner.
- Matching: Suitable for any question and answer type activity. Get students into teams and hand out cut up questions and answers on strips of paper. Tell the teams to match the questions with the answers. When the first team finishes, the whole class stops. Check answers using a student led approach.
- Pictionary: Come up with a list of keywords from the previous day's session and write them out on individual index cards. Divide the class into two or more teams, while ensuring that each team has a set of whiteboard markers, a whiteboard eraser and a whiteboard. Have a volunteer from each team come up and take a look at the first index card and start drawing their representation of that keyword. Use standard pictionary rules - no miming, no writing, etc. The first team to get the keyword gets a point. You could add bonus points for being able to explain the significance of the word/ phrase. Repeat until you've exhausted your list.
- Hangman: A game that brings the child out of most people. Get a list of keywords and divide the class into teams. In a round robin format, go through the words on your list using the rules of the Hangman game. Add bonus points for passes and for being able to explain the significance of the word/ phrase.
- Charades: Pretty similar to the Pictionary format except that the students have to act out the word without speaking or using any props.
- Musical Chairs: An all time favorite! Keep a list of questions equal to the number of participants ready with you. Run the musical chairs game and use the questions as forfeits. The last person to survive, wins! Mind you, this activity could take an extremely long time with big groups, so use this with groups of 15 students or less.
- Talking Trash: Compile a list of questions from the previous day and write them out on chits of paper. Crumple these and throw them into a clean, trash can. Get a soft toy as a speaking token. The first person with the speaking token picks out a chit from the can, answers the question to the best of his ability and passes the token to someone else to pick the next chit. Anyone who wants to elaborate on the answer can do so, by asking for the speaking token. When all questions are answered, everyone crumples their pieces of paper and tosses them back into the can.
- Balloon Reviews: This is suitable for any question and answer activity and adds a festive mood to training. Blow up a reasonable number of balloons and while you do that place small strips with key program concepts written on them. Have your students pop balloons in turn and read aloud what is written on the paper. As a group, you could discuss what the words mean and their significance.
- The Group Recap: At the end of the day's training you could split the group into small teams and ask them to do presentations of the previous day's learning at the start of the next day. Teams invariably vie with one another to make their presentation the best and the most amusing and it tends to be quite a good learning activity at the end of it all.
- The Quiz: This one's quite common, where you could divide the groups into teams and run a well devised quiz. The key is to invent different categories of questions, just like the ones they have on TV, and to keep a big, visible record of scores. Teams often push themselves to excel and the end result is well reviewed learning.
- The Auction: This is a quiz with a twist. You will need to write out questions on the sticky side of post it notes and assign each note a price (on the non-sticky side) - ranging from $20 to $500. Stick up all these notes on the whiteboard. Give each team $1000 - you could use play money or simply mime this. The idea is for you to start auctioning notes one by one (using your best auctioneer's voice) and for teams to place their bids. The only rule is that the teams should never bid for anything that will leave them with a balance of less than $200. The highest bidding team pays the auctioneer the money and gets to answer the question - if they answer incorrectly they gain nothing; but if they answer correctly they get double the money back from the auctioneer. The richest team at the end of the game, wins!
Using a number of activities doesn't just add variety to the course, but also also allows you to appeal to differently learning styles and preferences. Even if you were to use one activity each day, there'll be very few activities that you'll need to repeat, even if you're on a really long course (say one month!). The key thing to remember is that reviews are as important as new learning and as trainers we should budget time for them. We're often afraid of using up too much time though we shouldn't be, since this will only aid future learning. I consider this to be more of an investment than an expense!