These are my notes on Powerful Teaching. I’d like to say I finished the book, but I only made it 3/4ths of the way through before I ran out of time. I may add more content below, but these are my big take-aways. I still have a bit more to add to these notes, but since I almost lost my notes (I was playing with Markdown Editor (a great Markdown editor that saves your work to cloud storage of choice, but StackEdit remains my favorite) to transcribe my handwritten notes), I decided I’d better post them ASAP. 

This was a great book on four powerful teaching strategies. It’s well worth it to master their usage in K-Adult classrooms. 

Four Powerful Teaching Strategies

There are four powerful strategies that boost student learning. These include the following:

1-Retrieval Practice

This strategy occurs when learners recall and apply multiple examples of previously learned knowledge or skills after a period of forgetting.

  • It boosts learning by pulling information out of students’ heads (e.g. quizzes/flashcards)
  • It works by enabling students to practice bringing information forward to remember it better.
  • Helps students remember what to transfer
  • Learning strategy, not assessment strategy
  • Retrieval practice boosts transfer learning
  • Students do better when they are quizzed versus not quizzed, as much as 13% more.
  • Provide a mix of fact-based and HOTS retrieval
  • Multiple choice questions are as, or more effective than short answer questions
  • Writing down works better than concept mapping for retrieval practice

Retrieval Practice Activities

Brain Dumps/Free Recall

  • Pause lesson, lecture
  • Write down everything you can remember
  • Continue lesson
  • Ask students to swap Brain Dump with a peer.

Then, do a Think-Pair-Share:

  • Is there eanything in common that both of us wrote down?
  • Anything new that neither of us wrote down?
  • Any misinformation?
  • Why do you think you remembered what you did?

Two Things

  • Pause lesson
  • Ask, “What are two things you learned yesterday? Today?”
  • Ask, “What are two things you’d like to learn more about?”


  • Pause lesson
  • Students write down what they want to study
  • Give feedback on what they wrote
  • Continue with lesson

Daily MiniQuizzes

  • Formulate questions
  • Put clues on slips of paper
  • Students write down answers
  • Collect clues
  • Analayze Mini-Quizzes

Retrieval Routines

Colored index cards

  • Label cards with “A” “B” “C” “D”
  • Have students hold cards up in response to questions

Bell work/exit tickets

Retrieval Guides

  • Provide students with an outline of your lesson
  • Read text aloud
  • Retrieve and write down information in Retrieval Guide
  • Think-Pair-Share

2-Spaced Practice or spacing

Boosts learning by spreading lessons and retrieval opportunities over time so learning isn’t crammed all at once.


Mixes up related topics and encourages discrimination.


  • Provides student opportunity to know what they know, and know what they don’t know
  • This increases students’ meta-cognition or understanding their learning progress.
  • Helps students apply knowledge correctly

Benefits of Strategies

Research shows that there are various benefits. These include

  • Enhance higher order thinking skills and knowledge transfer
  • Raise student achievement by a letter grade or two
  • Boosts learning for diverse students and subject areas
  • Increases use of effective study of strategies out of class
  • Improves mental organization of knowledge
  • Increases student engagement and attention
  • Blocks interfering information
  • Improves learning of related information
  • Increases HOTS and transfer learning
  • Identifies gaps in students’ knowledge
  • Increases meta-cognition and awareness of learning

Stages of Learning

There are several stages of learning. These include the following:


When we meet information for the first time, or initially learn something.


Keeping encoded information and how long it is retained.


When we reach back and bring out of our minds the information we previously learned. When we access information and bring it to mind.


Social-Emotional Learning

  • Investigates how we interact with the world around us, or what happens outside our heads.

Cognitive Science/Psychology

  • Behind the scene behavior in our heads or invisible behavior