SLOOM! O is for Overlearning

In the wise words of one 21st century philosopher:

Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it...

And do it and do it and do it, do it, do it

Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it, do it, do it, do it again…

​While I don’t think had in mind teaching young people with reading difficulties, and he is by no means a philosopher, it forms a nice (and unforgettable) premise for this week’s theme:

O is for overlearning (repetition)

The wheels on the bike go round and round

Think back to when you learnt to ride a bicycle (or another activity now second nature). Were you instantly successful or did you first learn to pedal and steer on a tricycle for a couple years beforehand? Did you instantly ride off into the horizon, or were you a bit wobbly and crash violently onto the pavement like I did?

Fortunately, we repeatedly practiced riding and eventually grew into competent cyclists.

Solid foundations

I often see that, due to the demands of a national curriculum and progress monitoring, we mistake moving a student on to a more difficult skill with a student being ready for a more difficult skill. In doing this, our students can be inadvertently "moved" through school until we one day notice they struggle with some basic foundational skills (like adding, subtracting, reading accuracy, sounding out words, basic spelling, and much more).

Good interventions

High quality interventions are based on the principle of overlearning (regardless of content). Here are a few tips for selecting and developing your own interventions:

  1. If you are following a published intervention, it should regularly review previously learnt skills.

  2. If you have developed an intervention for a student, keep in mind the 90% principle (scaffolding). A student should always be working with a minimum success rate of 93% to avoid frustration (click here to see why).

  3. If you don't use it, you lose it! Find ways for them to demonstrate their newly learnt knowledge outside of the intervention. Remember, just because a young person shows you they can perform a skill 2 or 3 times in a controlled environment, doesn't mean it is part of their skill repertoire.

  4. Follow's advice and do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, do it, do it AGAIN!

In fact, that you intentionally teach and overlearn content with young people speaks to how well you know them so long as you have next steps in mind and gradually introduce new concepts along the way.

Next week is our final week of SLOOM and we will look at M: Multi-sensory teaching.

Here's the rest of the song I've got a feeling: photo from Google image search: