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Hello readers (all three of you)! I am so excited to announce my most recent pedagogical discovery. The key to learning new things is flashcards. I know, this discovery is cutting edge and innovative.

Students make a card for every theorem or definition that has a diagram and/or a given statement on the front and the (correct) If-Then statement on the back.

Then, they use the flashcards to quiz themselves or a friend.

I know that I should immediately run out to publish my discovery in a journal. Maybe I should present at an upcoming conference? The world needs to know!!!

All silliness aside, learning many new rules day after day is hard. They not only need to know the correct wording, they also need to master when to use each one so that they can correctly draw conclusions. In years past I hadn't required flashcards, but inspired by increased attention to learning strategies that are supported by cognitive science (read Make it Stick, you just have to), flashcards seemed to be the right fit. Key to effective effort is quizzing yourself, spaced practice and productive collaboration. Flashcard use involves all three.

Not only does making the card help firm up the new concept, but using them a little each day is the ideal example of spaced retrieval. Every time students use their cards, they are calibrating their knowledge, deciding what they have down and what still needs more attention. Ideally, students are using their deck 10 minutes a day, say on the bus or while taking a walk.

Just imagine if they were to shuffle their cards. INTERLEAVING! O.M.G.

I have my own set too. This was super helpful when last week I had to ditch my lesson plan due to a faulty fire alarm. My flashcard deck plus a class set of white boards was all I needed to play an impromptu round of white-board stamp game.


  1. Must comment. Genius! I wish we'd thought of this for Geometry 1. Will have to remember for Geometry 2. The theorems were the hardest part for E - and flashcards are her go to for French, so... (ordering Make it Stick now!) Thank you :)


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