Best Strategies to Check for Understanding

Paige Puntillo

Paige Puntillo

Best Strategies to Check for Understanding

Checking for understanding is an essential component of a lesson. When teachers pause to assess the level of understanding of students, they’re able to verify that students have retained necessary information before continuing with new information. This type of formative assessment feedback is so important to gain at many points throughout instruction because, without it, teachers will find themselves spending too much time going back over days’ worth of information at the end of a unit.

Ways to Check for Understanding

Physical signals

  • Thumbs up, thumbs down
    • Quickly scan the hand signals of a large group to gather quick feedback on the understanding of the entire class.
  • Rate with fingers
    • 1 to 5 rate your level of understanding!
  • Exercise brain break + check for understanding
    • Have students get out of their seats and do jazz hands or touch their elbow as a signal to their comprehension using a yes or no, or this or that question.

Using formative assessment technology tools

  • KWL chart with collaborative whiteboard
    • Ask students to consider what they have learned with a “Know,” “Want to Know,” or “Learned” chart. They can create their own KWL and share it with you, or fill out the KWL as a class with a collaborative whiteboard tool.
  • Quiz question tool
    • One of the easiest and most telling ways to check for understanding is with quiz tools. Students get to use their devices, and you not only receive quick feedback but also data that is saved for your review at any time. Plus gamified quiz tools make learning fun!
  • Draw their understanding
    • Draw to create a visual representation of concepts they were taught. Drawing can help get their creative brain going and ignite memory retention.    

Written responses

  • Exit tickets
    • Ask students to answer a prompt on a card or small piece of paper, and hand it in as a ‘ticket’ out the door. This no-grade submission can provide insights into their level of understanding of the concept of that lesson.
  • Think Pair Share
    • Students can start by jotting down their answers in their notebooks, then share with a partner, and then share with the class.
  • 3-2-1
    • Have students answer the prompt at the end of the lesson: 3 things they learned, 2 things they want to know more about, and 1 question they have
  • Self-assessment cards
    • Like an exit ticket, pass out self-assessment cards to have students check in on their own progress and turn them into you

Ask students to answer Questions

  • Open-ended questions
    • While yes/no questions are quick and easy, students may default to yes. Asking open-ended questions gives students the chance to actually reproduce what they just learned both demonstrating their level of understanding and furthering it.
  • Summarize
    • Similarly, summarizing what they just learned not only provides a clear insight into their understanding but also contributes to their level of comprehension. Ask students to summarize important concepts from the lesson.
  • Ask Choice questions
    • At any point in a lesson, ask students to answer a question regarding the material. Students can write their answers on a whiteboard or respond to a poll/question using a student response tool, such as ClassPoint. True/False, Multiple Choice, or Agree/Disagree questions are fast to answer, and can instantly show you if/how many students are grasping the concepts.

Other fun and creative in-class activities

  • Four Corners
    • Use this opportunity for student movement and assess student understanding by asking a question and having students move to the corner of a room that designates their answer. Ex: ““I strongly agree,” “I strongly disagree,” “I am not sure,” and “I somewhat disagree.”
  • Sticky note
    • Ask students to write their name on a sticky note, and then place it next to their level of understanding written out on a table or as shapes on the board.
  • Use emojis

Check for understanding using ClassPoint

While there are endless ways to check for understanding, using technology or a student response system is incredibly efficient and provides indicative feedback. With a formative assessment & engagement tool such as ClassPoint, you can gain instant responses from every single student allowing you to make in-the-moment adjustments to your lesson. And with ClassPoint, which is an interactive teaching tool integrated into PowerPoint, you have instant student data saved for you to review after class for a more in-depth look at specific questions or students.

Using ClassPoint you can check students‘ understanding using a handful of questions without leaving PowerPoint. Gather insight on student’s comprehension using:

  • Multiple choice questions
  • Quick Poll questions (1-5 options)
  • True/False
  • Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree (5-point)
  • Short Answer Questions
  • Fill in the Blank Questions

Like the nature of formative assessment, ClassPoint questions are fun for students and are a low-stakes test of their knowledge and comprehension.

How to use ClassPoint’s Short Answer to check for understanding

One of our favorite tools for formative assessment is the Short Answer question as it allows you to fully see where students are at in the learning process. Without any provided answer choices, the students must produce their own original answers, eliminating any lucky guesses that come with multiple-choice questions. This open question type can provide you with a deeper understanding of each students’ comprehension and retention.

From nonverbal checks to conducting a short activity, understanding check points are important for teachers to use multiple times a day. Hopefully you can add some of these activities to your check-for-understanding tool belt to have at your disposal. And if you are interested to learn more about how to use ClassPoint activities in your class, check out this tutorial video.

Paige Puntillo

About Paige Puntillo

I’m Paige, a part of the global marketing team at ClassPoint. With education and experience in both marketing and education, EdTech is my jam! When I’m not working I’m probably starting new DIY projects or chilling with my cat!

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