How to Check for Understanding

How to Check for Understanding

Writing Effective World Lesson Plans- Part V

Do you know how to check for understanding?  I was sure I did, so when my principal told me she not only wanted me to attend the lesson-planning training she also wanted me to facilitate it, I protested, “But I already know how to write lesson plans!”

Ha ha ha ha! Was I wrong! I realized in the teaching profession by the time you become proficient it’s time to retire.  There is so much to learn!  I did NOT know how to check for understanding and, more importantly, WHEN to check.  That mistake was costing me tons of instructional time.

This is the fifth in a series of how to write effective World Language lesson plans, simplified.  In this post, we will talk about how and when to check for understanding. In case you missed the previous posts, here is the template I use and here are the previous blog posts:

  1. Lesson Planning One
  2. Writing Effective Lesson Plans Two
  3. How to Write Effective Lesson Plans Three
  4. Lesson Planning Four

I do; they help / They do; I help

Checking for understanding is the, “I do; they help,”  and, “They do; I help” part of the lesson.  I know many teachers go from, “I do; they watch” to, “We do” but, often, that is too fast a transition.  That extra step is necessary for students to assimilate the language.

For example in the following PowerPoint on Gustar, students take baby steps; first they help me complete the sentences, then they write their own and I walk around and help them.

If you would like some comprehensible input for your lesson on Gustar, these Videos are winners: ¿Qué te gusta hacer Video?  and,  Spanish Gustar Video Puppet Shows

When to Check for Understanding

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As you can see in the template, the time to check for understanding is immediately after you have taught the concept, vocabulary, story. That way you will know if it is time for students to practice or or if you need to reteach.

And since we are teaching in small chunks, we check for understanding after every little chunk.

How to Check for Understanding

So, what are some strategies for making a quick assessment?  Checking for understanding is not usually in the form of a quiz.  It’s a scan-the-room assessment the teacher can make in a few seconds.  Did they get it? How do I know they got it?

Here are Some of my Go-Tos

  1. Raise the white boards: Write complete sentences, finish the sentence, answer the question, change the wrong sentence to a correct one, true/false, either/or
  2. Pair up with a partner and explain the rule to him/her (Then I randomly choose several partners to come up and present.  The class believes all will be presenting but typically only several presentations are needed to determine if the students have grasped the concept.)
  3. Thumbs up/ thumbs down (Count 1,2,3 then all respond at once – otherwise tentative students look around and mimic the others)
  4. Act out gestures
  5. Draw what you hear
  6. Answer in chorus
  7. Enter answers with clickers

What strategies do YOU use to check for understanding?  I would love to add them to my repertoire.

See how easy it is to write an effective lesson plan?  Just make sure you don’t do what I did and put the check for understanding at the end of the lesson.  Save that precious instructional time!  Happy teaching!

In our next blog post we’ll be talking about how to incorporate guided practice activities into the lesson.  Stay tuned!

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  • JAV HD
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    Great writing style in this. Easy to understand.

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