Ideas for Applying Successful Learning Strategies to Self-Advocacy

October 5, 2017

A few years back I wrote a post about a great book that pulled together the research and strategies on how we learn best.

Research showed that retrieval practice is the best way to learn material.  What does that mean?  Retrieval practice happens when a student answers questions about material to be learned or that has been learned.  The key is that the student must use their memory to try to retrieve the information without looking at the answers. 

Self-advocacy skills come with their own unique but highly functional vocabulary which students must understand and learn to use.  How can we teach and assess this vocabulary?  This is where retrieval practice comes in.

Examples are:

√     Using Quizlet flashcards to write questions and answers or words and meanings then use 1) the test function  2) play a game or  3) print.  If you have purchased any of my Book Boosters, they come with a Quizlet link for the vocabulary in that particular book.

√  Answering questions that come at the end of a chapter, from a study guide or that the student makes up herself.     This strategy is one that I figured out in college.  I used to take notes in a spiral bound notebook with multiple sections.  In one section I would write out questions that I made up to test myself.  I would skip a page then start writing out the answers.  I used this to quiz myself in preparation for a test.  I now share this information with my students.  (Yes, I know this is not specially designed instruction by a teacher of the deaf/hard of hearing – Shhhhh!)

√  Use “low-stakes” quizzes which are assessments used to only gauge retention of information and not for a grade.  An example of this could be Self-Advocacy Trashkit.  You can also use this game as an Exit Ticket.  Simply print out the cards and data sheet.  Cut up the cards and have the student select 1-2 questions to answer before leaving your session.  If you would like more information about what Exit Tickets are, here is a helpful explanation.

Since I am an itinerant teacher, I am in my car a lot and like to listen to podcasts.  I recently discovered Jennifer Gonzalez at the Cult of Pedagogy which is about all things educational.  She is determined to bring awareness of this research on successful learning strategies to educators so we can use it with our students.  To this end she has done two podcasts on retrieval practice here and here.

Cult of Pedagogy

Retrieval practice is a necessary strategy for vocabulary and concept growth!  Check out more information at


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