Education is full of buzzwords: methodology, rubric, stressor, etc. ‘Spiral review’ is a term that falls into this category. Let’s dig in and discover what a spiral review is and why we should do it.
What is a Spiral Review ?
Spiral review refers to regularly reviewing prior instruction to improve learning and retention in students. The brain needs repetition to retain information. Spiral review is a simple, logical, structured means of reviewing information previously learned.
Why Should Spiral Review Be a Part of Math Instruction?
Simply put, the brain really likes it. Revisiting previously taught concepts gives students the opportunity to learn more thoroughly. Each time a student is exposed to the same material, he ‘digests’ it a little better, making better connections cognitively.
The student incorporates the material into his brain structure through multiple exposures, creating and strengthening neural connections. The student can then apply this learning, even in novel situations. Deep learning is the result – and the goal for which every teacher strives.
Another benefit of spiral review is an increase in flexible thinking. When a student is faced with a math problem exactly like the one he learned last week, that’s one thing. Applying that knowledge and experience in a new situation is evidence of flexible thinking, another boon to learning.
How Should Spiral Review Be Incorporated into Lessons?
Keep it brief and focused – the brain has an average attention span of eight to ten minutes. Go longer than that, and you’ll lose them.
The brain LOVES routine – your students want to know what to expect – so keep spiral review as a predictable part of your math routine. Make it a center or a station during your Math Workshop, or use an Entrance or Exit Ticket during your math block.
Use data. Instruction must respond to data from formative assessments such as exit tickets, five-or-ten-problem quizzes, or a daily spiral review assignment. If your student is still struggling after several attempts, it might be time to reteach.
The research-based technique of spiral review can be a big friend to your students’ math learning. Spiraling helps students with their long-term mastery of facts, skills, and concepts. Incorporate these strategies, and watch your students grow!