#184 Tools and Tips for Teachers: Episode 8 (with Ollie Lovell and Zach Groshell)

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Episode sponsors

This episode of the Mr Barton Maths podcast is proudly supported by AQA. Head over to aqa.org.uk/discovermaths to book a call with one of our team of experts, and find out why you should consider switching to AQA for GCSE Maths.

Episode details

In this episode, Craig, Ollie, and special guest Zach Groschel discuss various topics related to education. They start by introducing themselves and discussing their current locations. Then, they dive into the importance of standardizing entry and exit routines in schools. They also explore the concept of relentless precision in holding high standards and the obstacles to understanding that teachers may face. Overall, the conversation highlights the need for clear expectations, effective coaching, and ongoing support in education. The conversation covers obstacles to understanding, effective explanations, checking for listening, refining the list, gradual release of responsibility, six direct instruction shifts, and self-explanation. The conversation explores the pre-test effect, the value of mass practice, the importance of discriminative contrast in interleaving, and the role of similarity in interleaving.


  1. Standardizing classroom entry and rewards for students. (8:45)
  2. Classroom management strategies for quiet and focused learning. (13:06)
  3. Implementing a new behavior system in a school. (16:55)
  4. Implementing a behavior change initiative in schools. (22:56)
  5. Improving school standards through coaching and precision. (26:07)
  6. Holding high standards in schools. (30:42)
  7. Sustaining high standards in teaching and coaching. (36:18)
  8. Coaching in education, obstacles to understanding. (41:03)
  9. Obstacles to understanding in teaching. (44:50)
  10. Clear explanations in teaching. (49:57)
  11. Teaching strategies and checklists for effective explanations. (55:30)
  12. Gradual release of scaffolding in teaching. (1:02:22)
  13. Teaching strategies for language learning. (1:07:30)
  14. Gradual release of responsibility in teaching. (1:12:21)
  15. Teaching strategies and frameworks. (1:16:09)
  16. Self-explanation in education. (1:19:37)
  17. Self-explanation in teaching and learning. (1:23:42)
  18. Self-explanation in teaching and learning. (1:28:28)
  19. Pre-testing and interleaving in math education. (1:32:42)
  20. Motivating students through math education. (1:37:42)
  21. Interleaving and spaced practice in learning. (1:41:05)
  22. Teaching math concepts through spaced repetition and interleaving. (1:48:32)
  23. Interleaving and practice strategies in education. (1:51:49)
  24. Teaching, learning, and poetry. (1:57:31)


  1. Standardizing entry and exit routines can improve behavior and create a calm and focused learning environment.
  2. Holding high standards requires relentless precision and a commitment to excellence.
  3. Obstacles to understanding, such as poor explanations and extraneous load, can hinder student comprehension.
  4. Effective coaching and ongoing support are essential for sustaining high standards and improving teaching practices. Obstacles to understanding include kids not listening, lack of prerequisite knowledge, poor explanation from the teacher, extraneous load, not breaking things down in the explanation, unreliable check for understanding, ineffective response to the check for understanding, no opportunity to embed and consolidate the idea, and no opportunity to retrieve the idea.
  5. Effective explanations should be clear, concise, and avoid unnecessary and irrelevant information. Teachers can use checks for listening to gauge the clarity of their explanations.
  6. Gradual release of responsibility involves shifting from teacher-led instruction to student-led problem-solving. This can be achieved through six direct instruction shifts: emphasis on the learner’s role, transition from out loud to in their head problem-solving, shift from massed practice to distributed practice, shift from immediate to delayed feedback, transition from heavily prompted to unprompted problem-solving, and shift from simplified to complex contexts.
  7. Self-explanation can be a powerful tool for meaningful learning and connecting new knowledge to prior knowledge. It is particularly effective when students can make unique connections based on their personal experiences and prior knowledge.
  8. Pre-testing can be an effective learning strategy, but it may seem counterintuitive. It involves testing students on material they have not yet learned, which can enhance learning and retention.
  9. The MAST (Massed and Spaced Testing) effect suggests that testing immediately after learning can be more effective for short-term retention, while spaced testing can be more effective for long-term retention. Pre-testing can improve learning outcomes by increasing attention and motivation.
  10. Mass practice can be valuable before interleaving to build competence in a specific skill.
  11. Interleaving is most effective when there is discriminative contrast between the concepts being mixed.
  12. Similarity between interleaved concepts should also be considered to help students make connections.
  13. Personal productivity can be enhanced by understanding individual preferences and routines.

Zach’s stuff 

Ollie’s stuff

  • Sign up for Ollie’s newsletter here: edthreads.ollielovell.com
  • On Twitter, Ollie is @ollie_lovell
  • Ollie’s website is ollielovell.com 
  • You can check out Ollie’s podcast, The Education Research Reading Room here
  • Ollie’s first book, Cognitive Load Theory in Action, is available from Amazon
  • Ollie’s second book, Tools for Teachers, is available from Amazon

My usual plugs

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