Continuous Checking for Understanding (CFU), implemented properly, is the backbone of effective instruction. Most educators are already familiar with the words "Checking for Understanding." In fact, almost every observation, coaching, or evaluation form ever written contains words to that effect. In Explicit Direct Instruction, we have a very explicit method of Checking for Understanding that will make teaching even better as teachers monitor student learning in real time. We have even developed a mnemonic, TAPPLE, to assist you in remembering the steps.
In EDI, when Checking for Understanding, you always teach first. Remember, the purpose of CFU is to verify that your students are learning what you are teaching while you are teaching. By teaching before you ask a question, the students are equipped to respond. After teaching the content, your students should be able to answer the Checking for Understanding correctly. We will cover what to do when they do not have the correct answer when we get to the "E" in TAPPLE.
Ask a Question
During Checking for Understanding, always ask specific questions about what you are teaching. Don't ask students if they understand the content. Often, students' opinions of their learning does not match reality.
Pause and Pair-Share
When you ask a Checking for Understanding question, always ask the question first, then pause for several seconds before selecting a student to respond. The pause, also known as wait time or think time, provides an opportunity to all students to think of an answer even if they aren't called upon. If you call on a student prior to asking the question, the other students are free to tune out. By presenting the question to the whole class, everyone stays engaged because no one knows who will be selected to give a response. Pair-share increases student engagement. It gives students a chance to practice and correct their answers.
Pick a Non-Volunteer
The only way you can truly find out if students are learning the information you're teaching is to randomly select three non-volunteers to answer your CFU questions. When you call on volunteers, you are being validated by your brightest learners and could be getting a false impression that every student is learning.
Listen to the Response
Listening carefully, you will need to determine the level of student understanding. Based on this determination, you will be making an instructional decision. Ideally, students will always have the correct answer to your CFU questions, but sometimes they won't. What you do next depends on what you hear when the student responds. Is it correct, partially correct, or just plain wrong?
Based on the accuracy of the student's response, you can do one of three things: echo, elaborate, or explain. If the student is correct, you echo the correct response back. Restating the correct answer provides an affirmation to the student who just answered. When the response is tentative or partially correct, you should elaborate. Elaborating and/or paraphrasing will reinforce the correct answer to the student who was called on and will also benefit the rest of the class. Finally, if two students in a row cannot answer, then you will need to explain, or reteach.