Sample Education Essays on Techniques for checking for understanding and adjusting instruction work

1.4 Putting It All Together

Jamey Verilli


Techniques for checking for understanding and adjusting instruction work well in concert with each other. Continue on to find out more.


– Mr. V.


Using Techniques in Concert

Techniques for checking for understanding and adjusting instruction don’t live in isolation. As you build comfort with each technique, you will likely notice yourself using several in quick succession. Here, I’ll walk you through what this can look like in the classroom.


As you watch, consider this guiding question:


Which techniques might work well in succession?


Planning Examples

Curious to see what thoroughly planned checks for understanding and adjustments might look like in a lesson plan? Below, you’ll find five lesson plans in which teachers plan for how they will check for understanding and how they might adjust based on the data they gather. The relevant portion of each plan is highlighted in yellow. Explore the document of your choice, and as you read, consider the following guiding questions:


How does this teacher’s planning around checking for understanding compare to your current planning practices?

What is one concrete strategy you could borrow from this teacher’s planning process?

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1.5 Troubleshooting

This segment of the module reader describes two common pitfalls teachers encounter in checking for understanding.


As you read, consider the following guiding questions:


What is the distinction between follow-up questions in Gestures and the kinds of questions described here that are intended to “make student thinking visible”?

What can you do in your classroom to increase students’ comfort with taking academic risks?


1.6 CFU: Review Key Ideas

Before closing out your work on this session, take a moment to revisit the key ideas:


After you check for understanding, you need to adjust instruction in response to the data you collect

In determining what kind of adjustment to make (e.g., Do Over), you need to consider what part of the material requires re-teaching, who needs to be re-taught, and when that re-teaching should occur

When you re-teach, you need to do something differently, even if it’s something very small (e.g., feigning an error; highlighting a misconception; using “Break It Down” to cue with examples, rules, or steps; etc.)

Additional Readings: Checking for Understanding Applications

Additional Readings

The following texts are optional reads intended to develop your understanding of the key ideas in this module:


Fuchs, L.S. & Fuchs, D. (1986). Effects of systematic formative evaluation: a meta-analysis. Exceptional Children, 53(3), 199 – 208.

This research article explores the impact of formative assessment on student achievement.

Stiggins, R. (1999). Assessment, student confidence, and school success. The Phi Delta Kappan. 81(3), 191-198.

This article discusses using assessment to build student confidence in the service of school improvement.

Greenstein, L. (2010). Formative assessment during instruction. In What teachers really need to know about formative assessment (pp. 65-101). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.Links to an external site.

This chapter discusses the following techniques for checking for understanding: voting cards, Fingers-Up, Line-Up, graphic organizers, Bump in the Road, questioning and the Socratic method, and electronic response systems.

Berger, R., Rugen, L. & Woodfin, L. (2014). Checking for understanding during daily lessons. In Leaders of their own learning: Transforming schools through student-engaged assessment (pp. 64-96). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Links to an external site.

This chapter talks about checking for understanding techniques that fall into five categories: writing and reflection, student discussion protocols, quick checks, strategic observation and listening, and debriefs.

Hollingsworth, J.R. & Ybarra, S.E. (2009). Checking for understanding (CFU): Verifying that students are learning. In Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI): The power of the well-crafted, well-taught lesson (pp. 21-48) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.Links to an external site.

This chapter gives a good summary of using Cold Call/Wait Time/Ask, Ask, Ask (they call it TAPPLE) and Whiteboards.

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2015). Checking for Understanding Digitally During Content Area Learning. Reading Teacher, 69(3), 281-286. doi:10.1002/trtr.1407

This article discusses ways to do checks for understanding using digital tools.

Himmele, P. & Himmele, W. (2011). Total participation techniques: Making every student an active learner. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.Links to an external site.

This book lists a large number of techniques to engage students in active learning. Many of these techniques can also help the teacher to see the students’ thinking and learning.

Ritchhart, R., Church, M., & Morrison, K. (2011). Making thinking visible: How to promote engagement, understanding, and independence for all learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Links to an external site.

Though this book isn’t explicitly aimed at “check for understanding,” it describes processes for allowing students’ thinking to be “expressed, documented, discussed and reflected on.” It, therefore, allows teachers to design questions and activities that both check for and build their students’ understanding.

Lemov, D. (2014). Teach like a champion 2.0: 62 Techniques that put students on the path to college. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Links to an external site.

There are many good tips on checking for understanding in Part 1 of this book.



Relay GSE Library

To find more resources, you can search the Relay GSE Library below. For help finding resources, email or use the 24/7 Ask a Librarian chat.Links to an external site.


Please bring the following to your synchronous class (Planning and Leading Student Practice):


Upcoming lesson plan (practice portion)

Completed interactive handout you will download in 2.1 IH: Principles of Effective Practice