Thursday, October 14, 2021

12 Ways to Quickly Check for Student Understanding

Teachers around the world are picking up the pieces and filling in learning gaps caused by school closures, distance learning, and concurrent teaching. Students haven’t had a normal school year in 3 years. Sadly, this means a loss of learning time for many and teachers are having to fill in those gaps and address those needs. 

Despite planning stellar lessons to teach your grade-level standards we must not forget about checking for student understanding. This simple act of checking up on learning throughout your teaching will make a huge difference in your students getting it. Let me say it now...Do NOT worry about your pacing. Instead, worry about making sure that your students understand what you are teaching. It’ll all pay off in the end, I promise. 

Let’s dive into different ways on HOW to check for student understanding.

Turn and Talk - Turn and talks are so powerful because they can be used with any subject in so many different ways. You can pose a question to students such as "share with your partner what you think the main idea of this paragraph is and why". You can have them solve a problem independently then share with their partner how they solved it and why. You can have them explain a concept that was just taught.

As students are sharing with their peers, you can walk around the room to listen to their conversations. You may pop into some of them to ask follow-up or clarifying questions. Depending on how students respond, this gives you an idea of their level of understanding.

While walking around, be sure to jot down quick notes about what you're observing!

Click here to get this observation sheet.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down- Teach students to put their heads down for this one (to avoid them looking around and copying others) OR have them place their thumbs by their heart so only you can see them. Pose different questions to your kids and have them give you thumbs up or down.

You could also use this one to get a gauge of student understanding after introducing new concepts. Thumbs up if this is making sense and you feel confident. Thumbs sideways if it kind of makes sense and you need a little extra practice. Thumbs down if you are confused and need more help.

*This of course will take talking to your students beforehand. Let your students know that it is OKAY if they don't understand and give you a thumbs down. If they aren't honest with you (and themselves) you won't be able to help them. Let them know that nobody else knows what they're showing you. Teach your kiddos to keep their thumbs showing until you tell them (to give you enough time to write down who needs extra help).

Whiteboard Checks- Whiteboard checks are great to use for math. Have students solve problems (teach them to hold their boards down while they write), then have them hold it towards their chest with the back of the board facing out. This is your cue that they are done. When most of your students have their answers completed, you can have them flip their boards and hold it above their heads. You can do a quick scan to see who got the answer correct and who didn't.

Jot down notes about how students are doing. Again, you can use a checklist like the one shown for student observations to mark how kids are doing with the concept. You can choose to make 5-6 kids at a time for each problem.

Whiteboard checks also pair well with task cards. This helps you to not have to think up of the problems. It can also be utilized well with multiple choice questions for longer answers like ELA.

Pinch Cards- Pinch cards are great to get quick snapshots of student learning. You can use double-sided pinch cards so that you have a variety of question types that you can use. True/False, ABCD, Yes/NO, Agree/Disagree.

If you're interested in the pinch cards shown above, click here.

Quick Checks/Exit Passes- Assign quick exit passes to your students to check for understanding of the day's lesson. Use these quick checks to determine what you will cover in tomorrow's lesson and/or to determine your small groups.

Utilizing Exit Passes like this will truly help you to avoid serious intervention issues later on. Your pacing may get slowed down, but it's better than keeping up with pacing and then later finding out that half your class do not understand what was taught in the last month!

I am currently in the process of creating these Quick Check Assessments for every single Grade 3 Math Standard. You can pick up what I have completed so far here.

Be sure that you are following me on Instagram and TPT so that you can be notified when I post new resources (and Quick Checks). Any time I post something new, I will ALWAYS mark it down 50% off for the first 24 hours!

Graphic Organizers- Graphic Organizers are a great way to assess reading comprehension! It's a quick snapshot to see if students are understanding the various comprehension strategies.

I have a ton of Comprehension Graphic Organizers readily available for you. The best thing about them is that there are both printable and digital options available.

Frayer Model- Yes, I know. Technically the Frayer model is a graphic organizer, but I felt this one needed to be a stand alone option. This is great because you can have students show their understanding in a variety of ways. You can truly see the understanding or lack of understanding through the various ways of representing something.

DLIQ- This is another great Exit Pass. This comes in the form of a Graphic Organizer. Students fill out each section below:

To get a copy of this DLIQ sheet, click here.

Whip Around- Whip Around and Pass works well for anything that can be answered with a quick response. You can decide if you want to allow students the opportunity to pass or not.

This works great with math facts, phonics practice, reading of sight words, etc. You can have a list on display, whip around the room and point to a different word, problem, or sound. Students must quickly respond then it's on to the next student.

This is a fun one that students often feel like it's a game. I used to time how long it would take us, and they would set goals to beat their previous records!

Hashtag it- Hand out sticky notes to students have them come up with hashtags for certain concepts. For example, you might ask them to hashtag multiplication. They might come up with #equalgroups #repeatedaddition #arrays #rowsandcolumns

As they exit the room, they can submit their sticky note (be sure to include names) so that you can quickly and easily see if they understand the concept.

Observations- Similar to the turn and talks, you would want to have some type of checklist to use while observing students. You could conduct observations while students are working independently (watch how their solving problems), listen in on conversations, observe them working on the computer, etc and take notes of what you notice.

Share Out- Have students share their thinking! This gives you so much insight into their own understanding of certain concepts. You can ask follow up questions to really dig deeper at student understanding. This is so much more powerful than a paper pencil test because you can truly see conceptual understanding through students sharing aloud their thinking and reasonings.

Regardless of how you choose to formatively assess your students, make sure you are doing it on a daily basis! In addition, make sure it's quick and easy so that you're actually able to check those assignments and use it to inform instruction for the following day. 

If you use any of these ideas, freebies or resources offered in this post, I would LOVE for you to share it and tag me on Instagram @teachinginparadise .. It would truly make my day :) 

Save for Later!

Don't want to forget about these tips? Pin the image below to save for later. 

Until Next Time...Aloha!

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