Tips to Engage Students Online Part 3: Checking for Understanding

sticky notes

Good teaching practices, no matter if they are offline or online, including gathering feedback to assess the level of understanding and learning your students are experiencing. This is even more important when so many are using distance learning to start off the 2020-21 school year.

Assessment tests are not the only way teachers gain feedback. In fact, techniques that gather immediate feedback during or at the end of a lesson can prove to be more effective than waiting until the end of a unit to give a test. Checking for understanding throughout a lesson can give teachers opportunities to reteach, clarify, or adjust the next lesson based on students’ understanding.

Although some of these tips are for older students who can write/communicate easily online, you can adapt these same techniques for younger students by using pictures, symbols or online “stamps” tools for students to share their level of understanding.

1. Unpack Thinking

In a live lesson session, as students work through difficult math problems, invite them to use the microphone to share their step-by-step thinking.

2. Gather Feedback

Place a chat pod on top of a presentation screen and encourage participants to weigh in with responses.

3. Make Real-World Connections

Use a chat pod to share personal connections to today’s learning as it applies to the real world. Invite students to share related examples they see in their everyday life.

4. Organized Responses

Create numbered questions on a whiteboard or notes area and have participants enter numbered answers in a chat pod that can then be sent by email to the host for review.

5. Poll Questions

Use a poll to encourage student feedback and assess understanding.

  • Create individual poll questions to assess student understanding of a specific topic.
  • Use a poll pod to gain feedback on prior knowledge before starting a lesson.
  • Use a poll pod to allow participants to respond to questions anonymously. Hosts can view the answers participant-by-participant.

6. Sticky Notes

Collect ideas from participants or make a set of reminder notes throughout the session. You can then go back at the end of the lesson to review the sticky notes.

7. Stoplight

Share an image of a stoplight and place a short answer poll pod next to each color.*

  • Green Light: Students share something they learned
  • Yellow Light: Students share what they still wonder about or are unclear about
  • Red Light: Students share what stopped their learning or what they still don’t understand

*Note: You can also flip this technique around for younger students and have them use the colors to mark teacher-composed statements so that you can see if they’ve got it, need more help, or don’t understand at all.

8. Top Ten List

Create a list of the most important takeaways, written with humor. Encourage collaboration by allowing each student to contribute to the takeaways.

9. Exit Ticket

Use a chat pod or private chat to assess participant understanding, next steps, or questions to discuss in an upcoming session.

Many of these techniques can also be applied within a chapter of an eBook. Just as you can set up polls, make real world connections, or set up pre-numbered questions within an online lesson, try these same techniques within your eBooks to keep students engaged and allow you to check for understanding.

Miss the first two blogs in our series Tips to Engage Students Online? Click to read below!

  1. Establishing Online Classroom Procedures
  2. Keeping or Regaining Attention

For more tips for engaging students online, check out this PDF from Pearson with 45 ideas.