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Learn how checking for understanding during the lesson improves first-time teaching
It is a quiet Thursday morning, and your class is ready to learn. You deliver one of your best lessons EVER on a very challenging subject. The students nod their heads vigorously when you ask them if they understand. You even ask for a couple of volunteers to work problems on the board. Satisfied, you hand out the pop quiz the next morning and only 20% of students pass. What happened?
Teachers agree that Checking for Understanding (CFU) is an important part of the teaching process. But when and how we ask the questions is often the most important part.
The National Research Council outlines best practices for continuously checking for understanding: “[The teachers] observe critical incidents in the classroom, formulate hypotheses about the causes of those incidents, question students to test their hypotheses, interpret students’ responses, and adjust their teaching plans.”
If that answer is Greek to you, no worries, we had to read it five times too!
So in English this time, here’s how a teacher should apply CFU throughout the lesson:
Involve All Students in Answering Questions:
- Teach them something first. Don’t ask questions about things you haven’t taught, otherwise you are just determining who has the most background knowledge.
- Ask a question to the whole class, then have them pair-share the answer with their partner.
- Select a random non-volunteer to share his or her answer. Or even better, have all students write the answer on their whiteboards and show it to you. Then you can quickly see what percentage of students have the correct answer!
The key is constant engagement with the students. Asking “Does everyone understand?” should no longer be asked in the classroom. Instead, increase the number of specific higher-order questions asked throughout the lesson.
Want to learn more about Checking for Understanding? http://dataworks-ed.com/the-importance-of-checking-for-understanding/
Want to view ready-made lessons with CFU questions already built in?