Flashcards can strike fear in the hearts of both teachers and students alike, especially when the pile of “unknowns” is bigger than the pile of “knowns.” Typically, we have students practice the pile of “unknowns” because we think those are the ones that they need to focus on, but research says WRONG!
If we sandwich the UNKNOWN information with KNOWN information, it will help the UNKNOWN information stick. When learning to process new information, in order to keep it within our working memory, research specifies that the ratio of known to unknown information should be 70/30. With the right ratio of known and unknown information, the right amount of repetition, and these 5 simple rules, this intervention strategy will help that new information stick like glue!
Rule #1: Keep it within the child’s Working Memory Zone.
Each “0” equals a new bit of information. So a 5 year old can hold in 3 new bits of information at a time.
Rule #2: Repetition Repetition Repetition
The number of repetitions is based on students IQ (a lot more than you think)!
Rule #3: 70/30 (and in the right order!)
Sandwich each unknown between 2 knowns…it will stick better!
Rule #4: Keep it organized and systematic.
Keep the letters, math facts, sight words, etc. in an organized box or ring to make them easier to use more frequently.
Rule #5: Get it in when you can!
Use a clear name tag badge and slide in pieces of new unknown information to increase the students’ exposure to that information! This is an easy way to increase the number of repetitions the student has every day!
Remember to use this sandwiching strategy with any new piece of unknown information (colors, shapes, letter, sounds, sight words, phonics words, math facts, vocabulary, for ELL students, etc.)!