Recall and Pairing
Recall has to do with remembering. Re-member means bringing again to your limbs,
bringing it into the will, making it your own.
What has been presented as new content has a chance to settle with a night’s sleep in between, to go deeper and take on greater significance than if the content is skipped over too quickly.
Recall is a perfect chance to get all the children’s active and meaningful engagement.
The teacher’s preparation is paramount in successful recall. The skill lies in being able to frame the questions so that the children can achieve their best.
The 3 day rhythm plays a important part in the recall process, although many teachers find a 2 day rhythm easier to work with:
Day 1: children listen to new content.
Day 2: recall yesterday’s content, bring it back to consciousness, have some thoughts about it.
Day 3: Understand the ideas behind the content and apply through independent work (book work/modelling/drama etc).
Some examples as starting points for recall:
· “Who can remember yesterday’s story, hands up…”
· Teacher names 3 children to come up and tell yesterday’s story.
· Teacher tells 3 children to listen carefully as it will be their turn to retell
· tomorrow. Get 2 confident children with 1 shy one or someone who never raises their hand.
· Go along rows and children all say one thing.
· Children’s names are written on lollipop sticks which are selected randomly
· by the teacher; this way the teacher can differentiate the question depending
on the child’s ability.
· All children asked to say one word in relation to theme, which teacher writes
up in preparation for writing.
· Ask all children to write down one sentence they remember.
· One person starts retelling and at crucial point, teacher asks next one to
For classes 1&2:
· Acting out story
· Free rendering
· Question/answer (hands up) “What did the king say to the maid?” “What was
the frog’s reply?”… single word answers. This way the recall becomes very
bitty and may have a tendency to be ‘heady’ with no flow. Children in class 1
should be given the opportunity to recall the whole story, each taking a turn.
This aids memory, helps them learn to formulate complete sentences and gives ideas for their own writing.
Recall and Pairing
On the subject of hands up, in some schools, the teachers tell the children
there will be no hands up but ‘wait time’ so no one can rush to put up their
hand and give the answer before others have had time to think. This leads to:
• all children being given a fairer chance
• children learn to listen more carefully
• more time for the slower ones to think and not feel pressured
• improved overall confidence of the less able children
• greater possibility of respect for each other’s ideas
• the quick children are not always the king pin
• the able ones have to learn to hold back
• there are valuable moments of quiet in the classroom
• there is less of a tendency of unformulated or jumbled thoughts
When questioning children in recall, different types of questions elicit different types
1) Ones where only 1 answer can be correct (2+2=4)
2) Deliberately incorrect statements (to wake children up) “Glasgow is the capital of
Scotland” (yes/no answers)
3) Ones where there will be open-ended answers, where it’s a matter of opinion/for
debate. (In Waldorf education we don’t ask children enough of these questions,
especially when we test them at end of main lesson) Such questions encourage
children to think for themselves. It gives confidence as no answer is incorrect.
Pairing and working with a desk partner:
The idea of working with a desk partner or pairing is not new in main stream
education. As a means of getting all children actively engaged in the learning process in many areas of main lesson, it has only really been taken up more recently in Waldorf schools. It puts emphasis on the children’s learning rather than the teacher’s teaching, resulting in moving away from the teacher doing most of the work. Recall is the obvious area where it is can be used successfully and positively.
One teacher I know of worked with her class in the following way: At the beginning
of each main lesson, the children took the name of one of their class out of a hat and
that was the person they sat next to and were paired with for that main lesson. The
following main lesson they had a new desk partner. The teacher said it took some
getting used to for the class and ultimately they enjoyed working with different
children each new main lesson. The challenge for the teacher was when two children
were paired who did not necessarily get on or who disrupted the lesson! She was
insistent, however, that the pair remain together and learn to get on as best they could.
This can only work, I think, in a well-held class with a clear authority in the helm!
Benefits of recall through pairing:
• It trains children’s listening
• It gets children in the habit of talking to the point
• It gives children time to think
• It increases confidence
Recall and Pairing
• All children are called upon to be active and participate
• There is a break from the teacher’s voice!
• Children who always have hands up and are listened to get used to not being the
centre of the universe
• It’s easier for the teacher to see if someone is being lazy and is not engaged.
• It has the potential of being more interesting!
• It makes a longer-lasting impression
• All children become familiar with sharing ideas and speaking out
Some Recall ideas involving pairing in main lesson ~ class 5 or 6 upwards:
· Tell each other something about yesterday’s content. Be prepared to share this with the class.
· Take turns in telling each other yesterday’s story.
· What did you understand was happening in yesterday’s experiment on colour?
· Talk to your partner about whether you feel sending the aristocracy to the guillotine was justified. If not, why?
· Discuss yesterday’s content and write down 2 things each.
· Make a plan with your desk partner about what you would want to include in the writing on Spain from yesterday’s main lesson.
· Talk about the content of yesterday’s presentation. Each write several sentences, read each other’s and make suggestions about what the other has written which you feel is valuable.
· Explain yesterday’s decimal work to your desk partner.
Other ideas for pairing; maths/English work:
· Correct partner’s work (spelling)
· Check partner on 10 spellings coming up in test.
· Piece of descriptive writing, check partner’s work for use of adjectives, and make suggestions of other descriptive words they could use instead of ‘nice’
· Teacher hands class piece of writing, poorly composed; together with desk
partner, rewrite and read to class.
· Remind desk partner about “I before E” rule (and others)
· Test your desk partner on times tables.
· Can you see partner’s mistake in maths? Take 2 minutes to explain where
· Long division: child has made deliberate mistake; desk partner must find it.
· Remind each other of yesterday’s percentage work and set 3 calculations for
the other to do in the same vein.
· Recall the rule for multiplying fractions.