When I wrote Dancing Bears, teachers frequently commented on our flashcards for teaching gpcs: they couldn’t believe that anything so simple could have such a dramatic effect. However, there’s a trick to it - it’s what we call the flashback technique. We’ll get back to that in a minute.
First, have your pupils cut up the flashcards carefully. Tell them to take the 1+ and 2+ flashcards and put them in the diskette pocket inside the front cover, and the rest in the pocket in the back cover.
Next, you will have to do a demonstration with one of your slower pupils - but one who likes to show off. The following procedure is critical:
1.Take the cards out of the front pocket and shuffle them - tell your pupils they must shuffle the cards every time they
2. Hold up the top card.If the guinea pig gives the right answer, ‘give’ it to them - lay it down on the table in front of
3. If your pupil doesn’t come up with the right answer in two seconds, turn the card around and have them say
the sum on the back: e.g., “2 plus 9 is 11”.
4. Bury the card one or two back in the pack that’s still in your hand.The next time it comes up, the pupil will get it right.
In essence, that’s the flashback technique. Rather than struggling to recall the answer - or in this case, merely counting on fingers or toes - the pupil gets the right answer painlessly and goes out on a high note. This takes the stress out of rote learning and builds confidence. When the same card comes up in the next session, the odds are very high that the pupil will get it right the first time.
Once the pupil has ‘won’ all the cards, you swap roles: the learner becomes the tutor. That’s what Reciprocal Peer Tutoring is all about. As pupils move up to higher levels, the workbook will tell them what flashcards to add. After the first level, they stop using the 1+ flashcards, and they should be discarded.