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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 Will.i.am 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: overlearning.

O is for overlearning (repetition)

The wheels on the bike go round and round

Think back to when you learnt to ride a bicycle. Were you instantly successful or did you learn to pedal and steer on a tricycle? Did you instantly ride off into the horizon, or were you a bit wobbly and crash violently onto the pavement, like I did, on multiple occasions?

Through repeated practice we eventually grew into competent cyclists.

Solid foundations

Due to the demands of national/school curriculums and continuous 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 are inadvertently "pushed" through a system until future teachers and parents one day notice they struggle with some of the most basic foundational skills (ex- number sense, adding, subtracting, reading accuracy, sounding out words, basic spelling, etc).

Good interventions

High quality interventions are based on the principle of overlearning. Here are a few final tips for selecting and developing your interventions:

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

  2. If you have developed an intervention for a student, keep in mind the 90%+ principle (scaffolding). One study showed that students with emotional/behavioral challenges should be working with a success rate of 93-97% to avoid frustration and boredom (click here to find out more).

  3. If you don't use it, you lose it! Find ways for students 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 will generalise into the classroom or real world.

  4. Follow Will.i.am'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!

Here's the rest of the song I've got a feeling:


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

Will.i.am photo from Google image search: www.tellychat.co.uk


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