Memories and dotting the t’s

Marcel Proust wrote of his childhood memories of madeleines, how a simple memory can evoke so much more, contrasting voluntary memory with involuntary memory. At Westfield this week, we shared strategies on how to trigger and develop student memories for that all-important recall of facts and skills, with some nice croissants for breakfast.


More a nudge and a target than a memory…

The dot – Teresa Porter (Ben Lee)

A simple dot in the margin of a book to remind students of how much work they have completed and what you expect to see the next time you circle the room. This can be extended by writing the actual time in the margin of a student’s book, as a visual reminder for both of you.


A great, simple way to keep students on task and to raise expectations.

Little and Often – Chris Gilder


In order to help Year 11 with being able to recall information about the different topics they have studied, we have introduced a recap quiz at the start of some of our year 11 lessons. This focuses on testing them about three different topics they have studied; one from last year, one from last term and a question about what they learnt last lesson. In order to get students into the habit of writing something even if they are unsure of the answer they are not allowed to leave a question blank. Even if they don’t know the answer they have to guess. This helps us see which students have retained information from previous topics and helps the students themselves understand which topics they will need to revisit for content before their exams. We have created a bank of questions from each topic over the last few weeks so that we can extend this idea to all of our GCSE classes.

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve – Josh


Josh took us through the forgetting curve and spacing effect and how we can use them to shape our starters, homework, tests and schemes of work to ensure retention of knowledge.

Proust couldn’t stop himself once he started remembering. he never had a time limit on his exams obviously.

And as soon as I had recognised the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated segment which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine.”


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