The Online PD

Teachers working smarter

What are different ways I can check for understanding?

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While direct questioning is often the bread and butter of checking for understanding in a classroom there are other ways. Always be sure to use a method that is meant to give you the most useful outcome, not just switching things up for the sake of doing different things in your classroom.


Checking for Understanding Toolkit

More ways to check for understanding:

Pair activity in which students have a short period (typically 30 seconds) to share all they know by writing with symbols or drawings.

Forced Analogy
Make analogies by comparing problem term to a randomly selected term (for example, compare a cell membrane to a cracker), (compare feudalism to elementary school), (compare irregular verb conjugation to a fashion show), (compare a thesis statement to the TV Guide Channel).

Dog Paddles
A whole class, kinesthetic approach in which students raise one of two dog-shaped “paddles” in response to verbal prompts. For example, it could be terms such as. “Socialism” and “capitalism” could be the paddle labels in a social studies class or it could be “agree” and “disagree.”

Review Cards

Students prepare a single note card of information they believe is the most vital from the week/day’s lesson.

One-Minute Paper
During last few minutes of class period, ask students to use a half-sheet of paper and write “Most important thing I learned today and what I understood least.”  Review before next class meeting and use to clarify, correct, or elaborate.

Muddiest Point
Similar to One-Minute Paper but only ask students to describe what they didn’t understand and what they think might help.

Chain Notes
Pass around a large envelope(s) with a question about the class content. Each student writes a short answer, puts it in the envelope, and passes it on.  Sort answers by type of answer. At next class meeting, use to discuss ways of understanding and to regroup students for re-teaching.

Application Article
During last 15 minutes of class, ask students to write a short news article about how a major point applies to a real-world situation. An alternative is to have students write a short article about how the point applies to their major.  Sort articles and pick several to read at next class, illustrating range of applications, depth of understanding, and creativity.

This is a list of different methods for checking for understanding and websites where you can find more information on them. This is by no means a complete list. If you have additional ideas please send them to I’d love to add them to our working list!


Written by theonlinepd

February 16, 2008 at 10:08 pm

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