Here is a perfect scenario for you:
1. You teach a lesson.
2. The kids listen carefully and soak up every detail.
3. The kids are excited to apply their new learning
4. Each kid aces the test! It's a victory!
We all know that almost never happens. At least with me. Checking for understanding has to be constant. It doesn't always have to slow down the momentum of the learning. Checking for understanding has to be presented in a way that is fun for the kids and you will have their buy in. My kids love these parts of the lesson, and they have so much fun showing what they know.
1. The first one is a big one for me in my classroom. When you have your students discuss something, you want to make sure you are proctoring. If you have not been proctoring the room, you will quickly find out that the conversations are not as authentic as you think they are. You will also make sure you are REALLY listening to your kids when they are talking. Because they know if you are not! When you are listening, you can check to see if a student is really getting the content you are teaching. When I check for understanding using partner talk, ask questions, reroute conversations, and I add important details that the students are missing.
2. Letting your students move to show you what they know is so important because they are releasing that energy and they are able to use their brain and their bodies at the same time! We all know how important kinesthetic learning is important to the learning process, so use it when you are checking for understanding! Here are a few of the ways we use our bodies and motions in the classroom.
- Sign Language for multiple choice questions. Teach your kids A, B, C, and D. When you have a multiple choice question, you can tell them to put their answer close to them, and when everybody has an answer you can have them hold it high. I always figure out who has it and who doesn't. I never call a student out that doesn't have the correct answer, but if I have a few kids that choose the wrong answer, I know the next steps to take in my instruction will be to address why the other answers would be incorrect. I will definitely have those kids in my mind and engage them in my instruction for the rest of the lesson.
- 4 Corners. Put A, B, C, D in your classroom and use the corners for the multiple choice questions. They go to the corner they think is the answer. I made a modification to this one because I noticed the kids that didn't get it would just follow the other kids around. I made them all commit to an answer by writing it on their white boards or a sticky before, and they had to go to the corner they committed to. I create a risk-taker friendly environment in the case they were wrong, it was okay.
- Close Your Eyes "Take Off Touchdown". I will read a question, and they close their eyes. I will go through the question and the answers, and if they agree with an answer, they will stand up "Take Off" really quietly. I will them prompt those who "Took Off" to "Touch Down." The trick is they have to close their eyes until all answer choices have been read. This REALLY works and gives me a chance to record things in my checklist. The best part is that no kids will ever know who picked what. When I read the answer, they are to remain neutral and not tell other kids what they picked.
- Make things up as you go. I am always thinking of a way to get a total physical response from my kids. If you keep it in mind, you will be surprised how many times you can actually get your students in motion.
3. Don't just use your desks and the carpet to check for understanding. Use the ENTIRE room! One thing I always like to do is gallery walks with anchor charts. I have my students work together to create informational pieces of something we are learning. They use an anchor chart to show what they know. When all groups are finished, I let the kids peruse the room. The trick is to give your kids a sticky note (with their name on it), and let them add or ask questions for the other groups. They can put the sticky notes right on the anchor charts so you can see what they think or how well they are understanding. You can also have them do this for a desk gallery walk for individual projects, and have them visit each student's desk.
4. I know a lot of students that have tablets. I worked in a Title school and students still had a tablet. Get those things in the classroom! There are so many apps that students can use. There is actually a free website out there called "Poll Everywhere." You sign up, and a few minutes later, you have your own code where you can have your students text an answer and it will show up with a graph on the your computer! This is the same concept we used when I took a class from the wonderful Jennifer Jones from Hello Literacy, she had us text an answer to a number. When we finished texting, she was able to pull up a graph with all our answers categorized with a percentage! I thought, "How clever! That is a great way to check for understanding with students!"
5. Lastly, get a set of easy assessments that align to the skill you are teaching. There are so many resources on Teachers Pay Teachers for you to look through and find something that fits you. I made a set of Math and Language Assessments for my class, and I use them all the time. They are 5 questions, and most of them are multiple choice. It takes me about five seconds to grade the multiple choice ones. This gives me direction as to how I can bring my kids to the next level, or if I can even go to the next level. If you would like to learn more about my Math and Language Assessments, click on any of the pictures, or the link here.
Checking for understanding will always remain an integral part of each lesson. If you make the best of it, your kids will love to show what they know. They will also be more willing to admit what they don't know!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post! If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to stay posted with fabulous freebies and ideas!
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