Top tips for supporting pupils with retention and recall of learning.

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  • The aim of pre-teaching is to increase the familiarity of the lesson content. The more familiar something feels the more likely you are to engage with it and recall it.
  • You could focus upon pre-teaching any if the following: subject specific vocabulary, a strategy (such as how to use a written procedure for column addition), how to use a resource/scaffold (for example: using a 100 square to add/subtract 10), the specific features of a written genre, preview a film clip or text extract…
  • Before the lesson you explore the pre-teaching material and make it explicit how this will be used in the lesson.
  • To help make this learning transferrable encourage the pupil to make some sort of resource that they take back into the lesson.


Recalling Subject Specific Vocabulary:

Create a word web to identify many different ways of storing the word. Add colour and visual images.

Use a voice recording device:

There are lots of different devices available such as:

Talking tins (

Talking Points (Special Direct)


These can be used:

  • To support the pupil in recalling their ideas for writing: (think, record, write with playback, check).
  • By the teacher to record task instructions – pupils can play them back as many times as needed.
  • For the pupil to record a checklist or verbal task timeline.


Intervention: Memory Fix (From Special Direct) or Auditory Memory (Back Sheep Press)

  • Available from RIAT for loan.
  • These work on specific skills and can be used as a focussed intervention programme.
  • It is essential that these are coupled with metacognition work so that the pupil can identify exactly which strategy they are using and how they will apply it in a ‘real’ learning context.


Supporting Spelling:

Multi-sensory learning opportunities provided via a Simultaneous Oral Spelling Approach:

Adult models how to write the word saying each letter out loud (avoid the sounds – they don’t always ‘work’.)





Pupil copies saying aloud each letter.
Pupil writes the word from memory saying aloud each letter. If the word is correct they trace over the word in lots of different colours (rainbow write).




Pupil writes the word with their eyes closed saying each letter aloud.



Think multi-sensory!      

Ensure that the pupil sees, says, touches and hears. The more usual the better!

Give pupils a memory kit:

Offer a range of tools and teach how and when to use each one. The kit might include:

  • Mini-whiteboard and dry wipe pen for jottings, making a checklist/visual task timeline.
  • Alphabet sheet for collecting subject specific vocabulary during lesson introduction to use in the lesson.
  • Voice recording device.
  • Blank mind-map to complete.


Signpost key information:

Make the key information really clear with either a signal from you or asking the pupil to signal when they hear it. Ask the pupil to record the key information in in one sentence or as a picture and place it in an envelope to open at the start of the next lesson.