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Six Quick Assessments to Check for Understanding

When teaching, it is imperative that teachers are consistently and constantly checking students’ understanding of the content before, during and after class. While we are all familiar with the typical Do Now, Warm Up and Exit Ticket checks for understanding, how can we as teachers ensure that our students grasp the content, while still making the activity fun and engaging? Below is a list of six “quick assessments” that teachers can incorporate into their routine in order to check their students’ understanding, while also identifying difficulties that students might have. The timeframe for the assessments ranges from 1 minute to 20+ minutes depending on how long the teacher wants to spend on the activity.

One to Five

This assessment is very quick and provides teachers with an immediate gage of how well the students understand the material. After a concept is taught, the teacher can simply ask the students “how well do you understand?” Students will then hold up their fingers 1 (not at all) to 5 (perfect) in order to let the teacher know which students are still struggling. If students are shy and do not want to hold up their fingers, the teacher can place cards on the students’ desk, so the student can simply turn to the card with the appropriate number, out of sight of the other students.

Question Envelope

During class, the teacher will pass around an envelope, and if a student has a question, they can write the question on a question on a note card and put it in the envelope. At the end of the period, the teacher will read and answer the questions in order to clarify any confusion or misconceptions that the students might have.

Question Partner

This is an engaging assessment that can either range from 5 minutes to 20+ minutes depending on how in depth you would like to go. For this activity, students will have a list of questions (that were created by either themselves or the teacher) that they will ask their partner. For this activity to be completed successfully, all students should have a graphic organizer where they write the question and answers provided to them by their partner. By having the students write the answers, they are not only having the material reinforced, but they are also being held accountable for their work.

One-Minute Response
One-minute Response provides quick feedback and a check for understanding about a certain topic to the teacher. The teacher will pose a question to the class, and the class will have a certain amount of time (1-5 minutes) in order to write their response. This activity can be completed at the end of a lesson for a longer period of time (5 minutes), or can be given throughout the lesson in shorter increments (1-2 minutes) to check for understanding.

White Board

This activity is very fun and engaging, and usually well received by the students. The activity can be completed independently or in pairs; group work is not recommended for this activity because it is important that all students’ voices are heard. The teacher will pose a question to the students, and they will have to write their response on a white board. The teacher can either then call on students to explain their answer, or if the students have different answers, they can engage in a discussion on who is correct. If you do not have white boards available, an easy way to make them is by laminating sheets of paper.

Parking Lot

Similar to the Question Envelope, this strategy allows teachers to gather students’ questions in a single location. The teacher should designate a certain part of the room or poster paper to become the “parking lot,” where questions are written. Students can either write their questions on sticky notes and attach them to the parking lot, or can write them directly onto the piece of paper. Parking Lot questions do not have to relate specifically to the content of the day, but can address the essential question or theme of the unit. The teacher can then review the parking lot questions with the class on a daily or weekly basis.

Next time you are planning an upcoming lesson, try to incorporate one of these strategies in order to engage your students, prompt student thinking and checking for understanding.

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