As I continue to teach my science class, I often wonder throughout my unit if the students are really grasping the concepts. How do I know my students are getting it?
Don, New York
This should be the question at the root of every teacher’s planning. Being a reflective practitioner is important in our profession. Developing curriculum and lessons do not matter if the students we are providing instruct to do not understand the concepts we are teaching. Being that thinking and learning take place within the minds of our students and we are not mind readers, we need to first take the opportunity to get to know our students. By building relationships with our students, you, as the teacher, can begin to pick up on your students’ nonverbal cues to determine if they are struggling or understanding a concept. More concrete ways of checking for understanding include but are not limited to the use of exit tickets, a thumbs up/thumbs down signal, red card/green card indicator or a quick write to explain their thinking. What really can assist a teacher in knowing that their students get the concept is providing opportunities for the student to apply the knowledge. When a student can tackle a task designed to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, they get it. When students can explain what it is that they are doing, they get it. More excitingly, when a student can teach another student a scientific procedure, they get it. As a teacher, it is important that you do not look at CFU one way. Allow students to provide you feedback as well. Their thoughts, questions and comments provide not only a means to check their understanding, but also your instructional practice.