Checking for Understanding Remotely

Checking for understanding is fundamental to effective teaching.

Not doing it well is often the reason lessons fail.

If pupils do not understand prior content latter material can become inaccessible leading to confusion and disengagement. If teachers do not regularly and effectively Check for Understanding then they will not even be aware pupils do not understand, leading to ineffective planning and wasted lessons.

Remote Teaching poses additional challenges to Checking for Understanding. Without being physically present and with cameras off we cannot read facial expressions or body language. Teachers might not be aware pupils are no longer paying attention at all and that their careful instruction is being delivered to the virtual equivalent of an empty room.

Remote Teaching through Microsoft Teams allows for different Check for Understanding methods which enable teachers to establish productive dialogues with their pupils and so teach responsively .

The clickable table below, categorised by TLAC Check for Understanding techniques, summarises some of these. There is a lot here and it probably isn’t wise to try and do everything. Choose an area to focus on and master it before moving on.

Always remember that the principles of good Checking for Understanding remain the same. Be mindful of all the usual good practice and aim to replicate this remotely in the most efficient way rather than being led by the technology. Use narrate positive and use other techniques to encourage greater participation, and don’t forget the basics such as wait time.

Finally, remember if you do not respond to what you learn from your Checking for Understanding techniques they have no impact.

TLAC TechniqueDescriptionHow to do remotely
Reject Self Report    Ask questions requiring pupils to prove they know the answer.Use the chat function to ask questions which generate answers proving pupils have understood the content taught.   Multiple choice questions @forms feature of TEAMS for retrieval quizzes and quick instant checkpoints.   Use the TEAMS class notebook function for more extended work (much more efficient than lots of work ending up in your email inbox from different classes)  
Targeted QuestioningUse different types of questions and decide when planning which type of questions to ask, who to ask them of and when they will be asked and the format of response (Means of Participation)Plan what questions you will ask and who you will ask these of in the same way you would for a regular face to face lesson. Vary questions types and Means of Participation response. Use the chat to gather quick feedback and ask pupils to unmute for longer answers.   Manage the chat function to allow pupils to paste extended answers in.
Standardise the format  Decide in advance how pupils will submit answers and work so the method of delivery is standardised.  Best to find what you like best and be consistent.  Deciding which task(s) you want submitted and communicating this clearly. Teams notebook function.   Managed use of the chat function.   Other platforms can be found in this excellent summary by Tom Sherrington.  
Show Me  Require pupils to prove they have understood something through individual and whole class Check for Understanding.  To quickly collate quiz scores provide a range of options in the chat and ask pupils to ‘like’ the score they got. This is more anonymous than them giving scores publicly and increases the chances of getting accurate information. Use cold call through chat or asking pupils to unmute. Use the @forms feature of TEAMS to quickly gather a sense of whether most of those in the class have understood what you’ve taught them.
Affirmative CheckingRequiring pupils to provide evidence they have understood something before they move on to new material.This can be particularly useful when using asynchronous material such as Oak National Videos. To stop pupils rushing ahead and skipping to quizzes require them to complete a task to prove they’ve understood the material before they advance. Be aware of pause points and use these as opportunities to check for understanding.
Responsive Teaching  Adapt instruction based on what you learn from your Check for Understanding techniques.  Just as you would in a regular face-to-face lesson be ready to adapt your teaching based on the results of the CFU techniques you use. Consider placing your resources (e. g PowerPoint slides) in one file so you can easily skip back to previous content if you realise pupils have gaps in knowledge, are making mistakes or have embedded misconceptions.  
  With thanks to: @Doug_Lemov @HistoryKss @teacherhead @jesnickMark @msybibi @ChemCommando @HughJRichards  
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