Derek has a Masters of Science degree in Teaching, Learning & Curriculum.
Checking for Understanding
As you move through the day teaching the various lessons and activities you have written, it is important to check for understanding. Checking for understanding is the process through which a teacher determines if students are learning and understanding the things being taught to them.
Checking for understanding is critical to the teaching process to help you determine whether you can move on or must spend more time on a certain topic. The strategies detailed in this lesson will help you check for understanding in your classroom and improve student learning.
Strategies to Check for Understanding
In order to ensure that your teaching is effective and that students in your classroom are learning, you are going to have to check for understanding at several points during your lessons. This can take many different forms and doesn't necessarily mean you have to stop your lessons. Whichever strategy you use, it's important to take the information you gain and use it to adjust your teaching.
1. The first strategy you can use to check for understanding is a simple question and answer method. While in the middle of teaching a lesson, stop for a few minutes to ask your students several questions about the material they are learning. If you find that many students are unable to answer your questions, you should adjust your instruction to ensure all students understand the information.
Questioning can be extended and adjusted to fit many different situations. For example, you can have your students write down several questions and pass their paper to someone else to answer the questions. After students complete the exercise, engage them in a short discussion about the kinds of questions and answers they saw. This will give you a good indication of where your students are in their understanding.
You can also engage your class in a longer classroom discussion to gauge how well they are learning the lesson. A class discussion is a good way to help students solidify, explain, and expand upon topics they are learning. As long as everyone is contributing and respectful, class discussions can be a good indicator of student understanding.
2. Checking for understanding can also come in the form of a short quiz. A quiz can be given at any point during a lesson and can provide you with valuable information about student learning. Quizzes should always be written by you, the teacher, and only pertain to the material currently being taught. By giving a quiz, you can collect a small bit of data about how well students are learning the current material.
3. Students can also keep a journal in which they respond to questions at the beginning of each period. By reading through these journals, you can see how students are progressing in their learning and determine if you need to adjust your teaching or continue on the same path. Reading student journals can also give you an overall picture of how a unit or series of lessons went, to see if changes need to be made for the following year.
4. Short worksheets, workbook pages, or other activities can also be used to check for understanding. These activities should be completed by students independently, with little to no guidance from you. You can then check the work to see whether students were able to take their learning and apply it to an activity.
5. Finally, a quick and easy way to check for understanding with entrance and exit tickets. These are things written by students that must be given to the teacher in order to begin a class or end a class. An entrance or exit ticket can be written in response to a question or prompt that lets students discuss what they learned in class. These take no time at all and can provide you with a wealth of valuable information about student learning.
Checking for understanding is a key part of teaching that helps you determine whether your lessons are effective or if you need to change gears in order to help students learn. The strategies discussed in this lesson, such as quizzes, worksheets and journals, are short, easy activities that can be implemented in a wide variety of situations to help you determine if students are learning or if something needs to change with your instruction. Additionally, these strategies can be adapted to meet the needs and abilities of your classroom.
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