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How to Check for Understanding in the Classroom: Strategies

Instructor: Derek Hughes

Derek has a Masters of Science degree in Teaching, Learning & Curriculum.

Checking for understanding is an important part of teaching that helps you determine whether your students are learning what they need to. This lesson will detail some strategies you can use to check for understanding in your classroom.

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.

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