Setting Up Leitner Boxes

Share Cognitive Science Implications for Teaching Mathematics
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Flashcards provide a convenient, simple, easy to construct, easy to use device to engage in low stakes, spaced, interleaved, retrieval practice.

Leitner Boxes are a great way to organize a flashcard-based retrieval practice strategy.

Set up three flashcard file boxes labelled as shown here. These are commonly called Leitner boxes.  There are computer-based apps which do the same thing, but many of them do not present mathematics at all well.  I suspect that deficiency will be corrected in good time.

In mathematics we should use flashcards to memorize definitions, properties, and procedures.  I believe the flash cards for these categories should be distinct.  Perhaps use three colors to identify whether the card contains a definition, property, or procedure. perhaps use a bold label somewhere on the card. In any event it is important to know if something is a definition, a property, or a procedure.

In mathematics a 3X5 card ruled on one side is ideal.  The un-ruled side is considered Side 1 and contains the term while the ruled side is considered Side 2 and contains the definition, property, or procedure.

“Research from cognitive science has shown that the sorts of skills that teachers want for students—such as the ability to analyze and to think critically—require extensive factual knowledge.”
Willingham, Daniel T. (2009-06-10). Why Don’t Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom (Kindle Locations 508-514). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

“All new learning requires a foundation of prior knowledge.”
Brown, Peter C. (2014-04-14). Make It Stick (p.5). Harvard University Press. Kindle Edition.

“One of the factors that contributes to successful thought is the amount and quality of information in long-term memory.”
Willingham, Daniel T. (2009-06-10). Why Don’t Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom (Kindle Location 477). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

 

Definitions, properties and procedures are the knowledge facts upon which mathematical reasoning is based. Definitions form the core of the mathematical concepts.

When a new definition is introduced, it should be memorized so that if the learner is presented with a term, the learner is able to write a word-perfect definition of that term.

When a term has been memorized, a flashcard should be created and placed in Leitner Box 1.

The same procedure should be followed for properties and procedures.

These boxes will be a storage medium for your flashcards but more importantly they will manage a controlled self-test and retrieval procedure which will enhance your learning.

Effective use of Leitner boxes will be the subject of the next post.

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