Making It Stick

Small Teaching: Making It Stick

In the book entitled “Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning” James M Lang reveals how to make knowledge stick.  How is this done? What small change can be made to my lesson plan?

“Knowledge is foundational”, which is the first section on Lang’s book (Lang, 15). Through the simple act of helping students develop a broad knowledge base, students engage in high order thinking, critical evaluation, and knowledge creation.   


Lang suggests a small teaching activity to leverage in the first and final minutes of your lesson.

Opening minutes of class
Provide two or three retrieval questions about theories, concepts, or material covered in classes thus far.

What four ideas were discussed last class?
What was the significance of each idea?

Closing of class
Ask retrieval or predictive questions related to the opening questions.  Ensure there is higher order thinking by finding a suitable classroom assessment technique in the book Classroom Assessment Techniques (Angelo and Cross, 1993).

Example: Minute paper - have students answer the following questions and discuss/submit them.
What was the most important thing you learned during this class?
How is this significant to the other ideas?
What important question remains unanswered?

This could be given as homework for next class or submitted online through Brightspace.

For more ideas, take a closer look at Lang’s Part One: Knowledge (pp.13-84) to better understand the processes of retrieval, predicting, and interleaving.

Angelo, T., & Cross, K. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers (2nd ed., The jossey-bass higher and adult education series). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Lang, J. M. (2016). Small teaching: Everyday lessons from the science of learning (First edition.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.