Checking for Understanding
is the best way to verify that students are learning while the teacher is teaching. DataWORKS developed TAPPLE as an easy way to remember the six research-based components of Checking for Understanding. Using TAPPLE, teachers can get feedback from students to determine the pace of the lesson.
Teach before Checking for Understanding. Then, answers to questions come from the lesson, not background knowledge. This provides equal opportunity for all learners, which is extremely important for English Learners.
(A)sk a specific question
Ask a specific question about what students just learned. Don’t use, “Does everyone understand?” as a question to measure student learning. For ELs, the type of question and the response is adjusted for the different English proficiency levels of the students. Effective questions are clearly phrased, reducing the possibility of student confusion and frustration. Avoid opinion-based questions, if possible.
(P)ause, Pair-Share, and Point
Give students time to process and discuss information with their partner. Wait 3-5 seconds (up to 8-10 seconds if ELs need time to translate and process) before asking for a response. This allows for longer, more thought-out responses from students, and increases participation from learners. Make sure students use complete sentences when answering.
(P)ick a random non-volunteer
To make sure everyone is learning, call on students who have not raised their hands. A drawing system using “sticks” (each stick features a student name) can be used for non-volunteer sampling to measure if everyone is learning. When teachers call on the same hand-waving volunteers all the time, they can be fooled into thinking that everyone understands the material. In addition, when a teacher only calls on volunteers, many students can go without speaking or answering any questions the entire school year. Effective teachers encourage all students to respond and explain their answers using sentence frames and the academic and content vocabulary of the lesson, rather than depending on volunteers, or answering the question for students.
(L)isten to the Response
How students respond should affect what is done next. If students have correct answers, move on and continue teaching. If students seem unsure of their response, go back and elaborate, or reteach, if necessary.
Give students effective feedback for each response. English Learners need to be given feedback not only on content but also on language. Echo answers that are correct, elaborate on concepts if answers are tentative, and explain when answers are incorrect.