GUEST POST: Podsie – Connecting Teachers and Students to Learning Science

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GUEST POST: Podsie – Connecting Teachers and Students to Learning Science

Like Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion, describes, the forgetting curve is an “imperfect” but “useful” tool (originally developed by a psychologist named Herman Ebingghaus in 1885 (2)) that helps us understand just how fast humans forget without review. In my case, asking my students to recall content that they hadn’t seen in months was simply setting them up for failure.

Retrieval

I could have also improved on the way I reviewed with my students. In my second year, I intuitively knew that my students needed more review, but instead of asking them to re-read notes or do whole class call-and-response, it would have been much more effective for them to engage in retrieval practice, another well-documented learning science strategy (3).

Concretely, this might have looked like providing them with some low-stakes practice on solving those negative integer operations, asking them to retrieve that knowledge from memory, and then providing feedback along the way to fill in any gaps or clarify misconceptions.

The bigger problem

If we dig deeper, the bigger problem was that as a teacher, I was not equipped with a concrete and thorough understanding of how people learn. In fact, I didn’t come across these cognitive science principles until a few years after I had left the classroom, when I read the book “Make It Stick” by Peter Brown, Henry Roediger, and Mark McDaniel. 

Like it was for so many other educators, this book was hugely influential for me. On one hand, it formalized best practices that I had vague intuitions around and presented them in an evidence-based and definitive way.

More importantly, it revealed to me a clear gap between what learning science experts recommended and what was actually being implemented in classrooms.

Bridging the gap

At Podsie, we’re trying to help bridge that gap. Podsie is a nonprofit organization committed to empowering teachers and improving student learning by ensuring that all teachers and students have access to learning science best practices.

We want to do this in a couple of ways. First, we want to join in the movement of educators, researchers, and educational leaders who have already been working tirelessly towards this goal. We want to form partnerships, share what they’ve already been doing, and help create more resources that teachers and students can use.

Podsie the web tool

One of the key resources we’ve created so far is Podsie the web tool, which allows teachers and students to more easily implement spacing and retrieval in their classrooms.

To provide a brief overview of how this tool works, let’s imagine we were using Podsie back in my classroom. When my students first learned about negative integer operations, Podsie would have allowed me to give a formative assessment made up of questions that looked like this: