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How Repeating Questions Can Make Concepts Stick

Sometimes, our students need to hear something about 100 times before it finally sinks in. On one hand, that can be really frustrating as an instructor because you just want to move on. But that’s the challenge of teaching complex concepts to energetic and curious kids. 

So, let’s change how we see this. Instead of feeling frustrated at repetition, try using it as a powerful tool in your lesson planning. It can help solidify those abstract concepts in the minds of your students. 

The Science Behind Repetition

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of incorporating repetition into your teaching, let's touch on the science behind it. Our brains are wired to respond positively to repetition. When we encounter information repeatedly, neural pathways strengthen, making it easier to recall that information later. It's like building a sturdy bridge in our minds. The more we walk across it, the stronger it becomes.

Repetition in Action: Math Made Fun

Let's take a stroll through the world of math, a subject that often leaves students scratching their heads. Imagine teaching multiplication to a group of 4th graders. Instead of presenting the multiplication table as a one-time memorization task, integrate repetition creatively.

1. Multiplication Chants: 

Turn dull multiplication tables into catchy chants. Create rhymes or use popular tunes to make the learning experience fun. For example, try singing the multiples of 7 to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”

2. Flashcard Fun:

Incorporate flashcards into your routine. Use them during morning meetings or as a quick brain break. Repetition through flashcards helps students visualize and internalize mathematical relationships.

3. Daily Dose of Multiplication:

Dedicate a few minutes each day to multiplication practice. Start with a quick review, then gradually increase the complexity. This consistent repetition builds confidence and familiarity with the material.

Repeating Questions: The Language Arts Edition

Now, let's switch gears to language arts. Repetition works wonders when it comes to building strong language foundations.

1. Vocabulary Journals:

Have students maintain vocabulary journals. Encourage them to write down new words and use them in sentences. Revisit the journal regularly, asking questions like, "Can anyone give me an example of how they used the word 'curious' this week?"

2. Reading Comprehension Games:

Turn reading comprehension into a game. After reading a passage, repeat questions about the content. Make it interactive by having students work in pairs or small groups to discuss their answers before sharing them with the class.

3. Story Retelling:

Choose a captivating story and read it aloud. Then, ask students to retell the story in their own words. Repeat this exercise regularly with different stories. Repetition not only reinforces comprehension but also enhances communication skills.

Social Studies and Science: Where Repetition Meets Exploration

Now, let's explore how repetition can enhance a student's understanding of social studies and science.

1. Timeline Revisits:

Whether it's historical events or the life cycle of a butterfly, timelines are fantastic tools. Create a visual timeline in your classroom, and regularly revisit it. Ask questions like, "What happened next?" or "Can you recall what stage comes after the caterpillar in the butterfly life cycle?"

2. Experiment Reflections:

In science, repetition can be incorporated through experiment reflections. After conducting an experiment, discuss the process and outcomes. Encourage students to think about what they learned and what they would do differently next time. Repeating this reflection process cements scientific concepts in their minds.

3. Geography Games:

Spice up geography lessons with interactive games. Use maps, quiz games, or virtual explorations to reinforce geographical knowledge. Repetition is key here, so revisit these activities regularly to solidify the understanding of continents, countries, and capitals.

Bringing It All Together: The Classroom Routine

Now that we've explored how repetition can be seamlessly integrated into various subjects let's talk about incorporating it into your daily routine.

1. Morning Review:

Begin each day with a brief review of key concepts from the previous day or week. This sets the stage for repetition without overwhelming students.

2. Interactive Check-Ins:

Incorporate interactive check-ins during the day. Whether it's a quick quiz, a discussion, or a group activity, these moments provide opportunities to reinforce concepts through repetition.

3. Homework Highlights:

Encourage students to review and summarize what they've learned in their homework. This not only promotes repetition but also encourages self-reflection.

Embracing the Repetition Revolution in Education

Repetition is your secret weapon in the classroom. By incorporating it into your teaching strategies, you're building bridges in your students' minds that will last a lifetime. So, repeat those questions, turn those lessons into catchy tunes, and help your students become masters of the material.

Written by Brooke Lektorich
Education World Contributor
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