The word “interleaving” was unknown in my vocabulary up until a couple of years ago, which is interesting, as, when I read blogs and articles about it, it seemed to be what I had been doing for many years, just as a matter of practice.
It would appear to mean bringing something that has been covered and hopefully learned back into play, in a new context, or as a means of checking that the essentials have been remembered. This, to me, was a significant part of what was articulated as the spiral curriculum. Not necessarily revisiting exactly the same topic, but embedding what was learned and extending it through use and application. I may well be wrong and not have picked up some of the nuanced approaches that some will use, but that it an inevitability, as every lesson is not monitored, recorded and shared.
In the approach to planning that was established as a key aspect of school life, from 1990, seeking adaptability in lessons as a result of more dynamic planning approaches, an overview annual plan built in opportunities for reprise and reintegration of knowledge and skills that had been part of earlier learning.
This could be reprised as a home activity, with children challenged to bring in their remembering of the previous learning to support in–lesson discussion, rather than start a lesson “cold” with a “What do you remember about…” question.
I would suggest that, to have real impact on learning, longer term planning is needed to view the places where interleaving can be achieved, otherwise, with some schools seemingly moving to a shorter term approach, the chance to reflect is limited by the need to react to decisions from in-lesson assessment.
Homework can, if it becomes a routine part of classroom practice, begin to be repetitive activity, which in itself becomes slightly demotivating to a child. Setting a “spider diagram” challenge to remember 6-10 thing about a topic, from any curriculum area, then to reprise this as a starter activity, puts the emphasis on the child to think and actively record their memories. It shows them that to remember is considered important, as they begin to expect a reprise point. If the remembering is then utilised in a subsequent activity in class, they have reinforcement.
To me, interleaving, to be successful, relies on planning to embed learning over time. It is not a case of random or regular tests, as the use and application of knowledge, in a novel setting, to me adds extra value to what is known, developing the learner’s awareness that (some) knowledge has a range of applications.
They need to learn to become thinkers themselves.
Plan- reprise- apply- embed… keep using, as non-negotiables.