This book chapter describes an approach to designing curriculum, instruction, and assessments in which teachers plan backwards from what they want students to understand and be able to do and engage students actively in meaningful learning experiences involving inquiry and application of skills and knowledge in authentic contexts. This overview highlights the value of student input, regular checks for understanding, and performance assessments guided by clear criteria for quality work.
This article and video explain how to use designated group roles in order to promote interaction through student-led peer group discussion about a text. Reciprocal teaching is a technique that engages students in reading comprehension strategies including questioning, clarifying, summarizing, and predicting. Accompanying resources support classroom implementation in a variety of teaching contexts to help students explain their thinking and deepen their understanding.
In this video, a teacher explains and demonstrates how she scaffolds instruction in order to break down complex tasks and provide instructional support for reading comprehension skills by thinking aloud and using a graphic organizer to illustrate her thought process. She models success by demonstrating the task first, asks students to practice together, further clarifies after checking for understanding, and then invites students to apply the strategy independently.
This resource describes instructional practices and strategies that foster engaging and challenging learning experiences for all students. These practices include promoting discussion, collaboration, and higher order thinking, as well as clarifying expectations and highlighting relevance. Recommendations address the value of incorporating student perspectives and the importance of considering classroom diversity along a variety of dimensions when designing instruction.
In this two-part video, a teacher describes and demonstrates how her students explore and analyze differing perspectives using a variety of primary sources. The video aptly illustrates how the teacher probes student thinking and students ground their statements in evidence from complex texts as they engage in turn and talk, class discussion, and other interactive activities.
The first in this series of brief videos illustrating effective classroom management strategies features a teacher who connects personally with students as they enter his classroom with a handshake, a greeting, and a review question. This daily routine helps to foster orderly, respectful behavior, build relationships, and create a climate where students feel valued, welcomed, and ready to work.
This brief video demonstrates strategies for maximizing learning time at the beginning and ending of a class, including ways to focus students, check for understanding, and consolidate learning. It offers a variety of useful examples of how teachers use entry tickets and exit tickets to establish clear routines for starting and ending class that keep students on task and focused on learning while also helping the teacher keep track of progress.
This series of lessons scaffolds instruction to develop students' summarizing skills, beginning with clarifying and modeling and offering practice in applying those skills with increasing independence. This strategy for summarizing texts, which is adaptable and broadly applicable across content areas, involves answering the key questions of journalism: who, what, where, when, why, and how.
This well-organized guide to implementing principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) explains why it's important to clarify and consolidate students’ understanding and offers a variety of practical strategies, examples, and resources. For instance, activating background knowledge, highlighting patterns and big ideas, scaffolding cognitive processing, and supporting transfer can all help to deepen and solidify students' understanding.
This thinking routine invites students to activate prior knowledge, ask and investigate their own questions, and make connections to deepen and consolidate their learning. It helps students build bridges between their thinking before and after a learning experience and can help teachers plan and facilitate instruction that is responsive to students' understanding.
This thinking routine invites students to confer with each other about an open-ended, higher-order question to clarify and consolidate their ideas. The teacher poses a question and asks students to think about their responses individually, then explain their thinking to their partners, and finally share with the whole class. This classic protocol, which can be used in any teaching context, ensures that every student has the opportunity to reflect on and respond to a question.
This cooperative learning strategy actively engages students in conferring with each other in small groups with distributed expertise so that each student's contribution is essential to consolidating the group's understanding of a multi-faceted topic. While it requires some prior organization of students and materials, this teaching technique is great for building interdependence and fostering substantive learning interactions among students.
This blog post provides a variety of examples of formative assessment strategies teachers can use to check for understanding in order to inform instruction, as well as links to related resources with additional information, tools, and suggestions. It explains techniques such as methodical observation, student reflections, and summarizing activities, which can help students both monitor and consolidate their understanding, while also helping the teacher plan subsequent instruction.
Exit slips invite students to briefly reflect on what they learned during a lesson and can provide teachers with an informal assessment of student understanding. They can help teachers find out how students are synthesizing and connecting what they are learning, what they are still wondering about, or any other information that can assist in planning further instruction. A variety of practical suggestions for employing this versatile strategy are provided, along with sample prompts.
This concise resource explains why summarizing is an important comprehension strategy and how to teach it. It also includes a selection of related classroom activities, templates, and lesson plans for teaching students how to identify and summarize the main ideas of a text. The list of "more summarizing activities" includes many techniques that can also be used to check for understanding.
This article describes how students can activate prior knowledge, connect a topic to their own lives, and summarize their learning each day. This classroom routine can help students, especially struggling readers, to actively engage with texts so that they comprehend what they are reading, connect new ideas with existing knowledge, and summarize what they have learned to consolidate their understanding. It can also help teachers check for understanding to inform their instruction.