The success of your students depends on whether or not they are absorbing the information you’re teaching them. Often as educators we get bogged down in the process of creating lessons and designing curriculum, and forget to build in moments during our instruction to check our students’ understanding.
Here are five simple ways to check your students’ understanding while also maintaining an engaging classroom dynamic.
1. Tweet Storm
In the digital realm nothing is quite as entertaining as a really good tweet storm. Bring that same practice into your class by encouraging your students to respond to a lesson, a question, or prompt in 140 characters or less. If you want to maintain a more modern twitter presence bump that character count up to 280 characters.
For an extra bit of intensity, compile your students’ responses into a “feed” and have each student explain their answers.
2. Listen to a Podcast
Podcasting is huge right now. There are podcasts for true crime, education, comedy, pop culture, news, and so much more. Tap into this rich reservoir by having your students listen to a podcast related to what you’re currently learning. Once they’re done, ask them to discuss what they’ve listened to and how it might differ or compare with what they just heard.
3. Misconception Check
We all have misconceptions about certain things. Misconceptions are those facts or opinions we have based on faulty information. For this activity give students a common misconception about a topic and have them explain why they agree or disagree. This particular strategy is great for testing your students’ prior knowledge before they learn a new topic.
4. 3 X Summarization
Summarizing is a tricky but useful skill to have. For this strategy have your students summarize their lesson 3 times. The first time they’ll use 10-15 words, the second 30-50, and finally in 75-100. This helps test your students’ ability to synthesize information and restate it in their own words.
5. Ultimate Defender
Everyone deserves a strong defense, that’s the foundation of our justice system. For this strategy have your students pick a character you’re currently learning about and defend that character’s action. This character can be a real character, living or dead, or a fictional character from a novel. This helps students transfer the facts and other information they’re currently learning into a new context, while also helping you understand what they know about the character and what they don’t.
Mary Black works with teachers and principals in creative and strategic planning for curriculum and instruction at schools with diverse student populations. She has years of leadership experience in secondary schools, beginning her educational career as a high school English teacher in an urban high school, also serving as a high school principal. She is currently Program Manager and the Certified SIM Professional Development Leader for the SIM team at Region 13.