Checking for Understanding Throughout the Lesson: Great Guided Math Strategies

Posted on December 4, 2011. Filed under: Assessment, Differentiated Instruction, Elementary math | Tags: , , , , , , |

It’s really important to check for understanding along the way not just at the end of the trip.  It’s a horrible thing to fly all the way to Los Angeles from NY and find at the end of the trip that some of your kids are still at JFK (the airport). So to avoid all that here are 5 great ways to check in before your students check out.

1. Fist of five – The kids raise their fingers to show their level of understanding.  A fist means, “I’m lost.”  1 finger means – “I don’t get it.”  2 means “I barely get it.”  3 means “I kind of get it.”  4 means “ I get it pretty much,  although I still have a few questions.”  5 means “ I get this.  I understand it.  I could even teach it to someone else.”

2.  The Windshield – In this technique the windshield is a metaphor for understanding.  So, the teacher might ask:  “Who has muddy windshield?” The students who are totally lost will say they do.  Then the teacher might ask “Who has some bugs on their windshield?” The students who kind of understand will say they do.  Then, the teacher will ask, “Who has a clear windshield?” The students who are getting it will say they do.  I have seen this used really effectively with upper elementary students.

3. Signal Cards– This is where everyone has 3 cards and the teacher asks students to raise different colors to signal their levels of understanding.  The teacher might say, “If you get it raise the green card, if you kind of get it raise the yellow card, if you don’t get it yet raise the red card.”  Another version of this is just to have a traffic light on the board and to point to different colors and ask the students to raise their hands depending on how they would describe their level of understanding.

4.  Speedometer – This is where the students use their hands to indicate their level of understanding.  The students lay one arm on top of another with the elbow of one arm on the hand of the other.  The raising and lowering of the top arm represents going from 0 (not getting it) to 100 (super getting it).  The students then raise their arms to indicate their level of understanding.

5.  Four Corners – The teacher designates each part of the room as an area that represents levels of understanding.  (You can already have scaffolded activities prepared for each area).  Have the students go to the area that best describes their current level.


Resources with More Ideas:

Resource 1

Resource 2

 Resource 3

Try them out and let me know how it goes!

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki




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2 Responses to “Checking for Understanding Throughout the Lesson: Great Guided Math Strategies”

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[…] Nicki shares some great strategies to check for understanding at her blog-Dr. Nicki’s Guided Math Blog. One of my favorites is “the windshield”. To use this idea, the teacher asks the class: […]

With these types of assessments, I find kids are often reluctant to share with the class how little they may understand. I try to preface questions for understanding with, “This is all really confusing stuff we’re doing, so you may not totally understand yet…” This allows them to feel more comfortable, instead of thinking, “What’s wrong with me that I don’t get it?”

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