Friday, August 24, 2012


With the start of the new school year, holding students accountable for learning with the new common core standards will be every teacher's goal.  To pull this off, teachers will need to have a few CFU (checks for understanding) strategies in their toolkits.  Though there are lots of them out there from the internet, colleagues, students themselves, etc., teachers will need to find the ones that most resonate with them, their personalities, and teaching styles.  CFUs respresent forms of formative assessments--the assessments that guide instruction.  These tools tell teachers what kids know and how well they know it.  They also reveal to the teacher how close the class is to taking a summative assessment.  After all, what is the point of giving a summative assessment at the end of the lesson only to find out that a majority of kids failed?  Instead, by giving several mini-cfus throughout the lesson, teachers are in effect preparing their students for test on the lesson.  CFUs will build student confidence along with content knowledge.  This is a win for both the teacher and the students (ELLs benefit greatly here).

PRIMER FOR CHECKS-FOR-UNDERSTANDING  Here is one that though geared to elementary school works equally well in upper grades.  In fact, many of these tools have been in use in grade school for years.  They are not necessarily new.  However, for upper grades, it is a fairly new area:)  When common core is fully implemented, long lectures should be a thing of the past.  Mini-lectures are far more effective because they hold and maintainstudent interest unlike long ones where students stop listening after 10 minutes (lecture is too long).  If teachers mix up the routines and do random call-ons, they will see test scores improve since students will be more focused in class.

This video shows a teacher doing a common (and highly effective) CFU with popsicle sticks.  Notice how kids are all sitting upright because they know that they could be called on.  Also, if called on, the popsicle stick with the student's name goes back in the cup.  Message here?  Stay alert because you can be called on again:)

I also have another CFU on facebook (ELL TEACHER PROS).  Please note that there are NO duplicates so feel free to LIKE US and explore there as well:)



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