Quick checks for understanding

These strategies come from an article: Assessment for Understanding by Janelle Wills, published in Assessment into Practice: Understanding assessment practice to improve students’ literacy learning. PETAA edited by Heather Fehring, 2017

Students complete a 3-2-1 exit slip before leaving the room or at the end of the learning episode. For example 3 things I learned, 2 connections I made, 1 question I still have.

3-Minute pause
The 3-minutes pause provides a chance for students to stop, reflect on the concepts and ideas that have just been introduced, make connections to prior knowledge or experience, and seek clarification:

  • I changed my attitude about…
  • I became more aware of …
  • I was surprised about…
  • I felt…
  • I related to…
  • I emphasised with…by…

ABC summaries

Each student in the class is assigned a different letter of the alphabet and they must select a word starting with that letter that is related to the topic being studied.

Quick Writes

Pose a question to a group or class of students and pause for 30-60 seconds. Ask students to write an answer to the question using note cards, sticky notes or scrap paper. Students share responses with each other using a process such as Give One, Get One (Lipton &Wellman, 2010)


Present students with a analogy prompt: (A certain concept, principle or process) is like  _____ because __________.

Choral response

In response to a cue, all students respond verbally at the same time. The response can be either to answer a question or to repeat something the teacher has said.


At the end of a lesson, students respond to the following questions in a daily journal log:

  • Was this a productive lesson for me?
  • What did I learn?
  • What did I do to help myself learn?
  • What interfered with my learning?
  • What will I do differently next time to help me learn better?

Compare and Contrast

Identify the theory or idea the author is advancing. Then identify an opposite theory. What are the similarities and differences between these ideas? This process demonstrates the depth of understanding a student has attained.

Compare and Contrast

Create a two-column table. Use the left column to write down 5-8 important quotations/ points. Use the right column to record reactions/ explanations to the quotations/ points.

Cornell Notes

Create a two-column table. Use the left column to write down 5-8 important points from a learning episode or text. Use the right column to create a non-linguist representation of the key idea or concept.

Duelling charts

1. Select a topic students have been studying (ie. democracy)

2. Write the topic on two charts

3. Divide the students into two teams

4. Each team lines up behind a chart

5. On signal, a student from each team goes to the chart and write a phrase associated with the topic. The phrase must start with the 1st letter of the word (ie. ‘d’ for democracy – distribution of political power in the hands of the public. Then, the next letter ‘e’ – eligible citizens participate equally and ‘m’ and so on).

6. After the first student finishes, the next student comes to the chart etc.

7. When both teams are done the charts are compared and shared.


Evidence card

Similiar to an exit card. The ticket out the door is to list at least two important ideas they have learned from the lesson and specific EVIDENCE regarding this learning.


Exit card

Exit cards are written responses to questions posed at the end of a class or learning activity or at the end of a day.

Find someone who

Students circulate to find others who can contribute to answers on their worksheet. They give answers and receive answers for purposes of review and showing gaps in ethic learning. (Kagan & Kagan, 2009)

Gallery Walk

Students rotate around the room stopping at posted posed questions, or pieces of learning, quotes, concepts, etc. As they stop at each chart, students have discussions with each other, write responses on poster charts or sticky notes or they pose questions that they have as a result of viewing the gallery walk material. (Lipton and Wellan 2011)

Generic question to guide self-assessment

  • What did you do well? What are the reasons for this?
  • What Could you do better? How could you do this?
  • What did you enjoy about your learning? Why?
  • What would you like me to know about your learning?
  • What would you like me to notice about your work? Why?
  • What sort of thinking did you use to help you with this?
  • What was the most important thing you learned?
  • How do you feel when things get hard?
  • What is your greatest improvement/ achievement?
  • What helped you achieve this?

Quick Draw

Students quickly draw pictures to show what they know. They then explain their drawing to a partner.

Get One, Give One

Students respond to a prompt by writing on a sticky note or card. They then take their card/ note and find a partner; share the information or ideas and then exchange cards. After two or three exchanges, hey return to their table group and share information on their last card. Table groups identify themes and patterns to share with full group. ( Lipton and Wellman 2010)

Hand signals

Ask students to display a designated hand signal to indicate their understanding of a specific concept, principle, or process: I understand____ and can explain it (ie., thumbs up). I do not yet understand (ie., thumbs down). I’m not completely sure about _____ (ie., hand wave)


I have, who has?

Reviw questions and responses are handed out to students on cards. The student with number one card begins the review by reading their question (ie. I have what are words that mean exactly what you say.) and then reads the question also contained on their card ( Who has the definition for figurative language?) and the review continues until all cards are used. (Kalgan and Kagan, 2009)

Idea spinner

The teacher creates a spinner marked with four quadrants and labelled “Predict, Explain, Summarise and Evaluate.” After new material is presented, the teacher spins the spinner and asks students to answer a question based on the location of the spinner.

Index card summaries and questions

Distribute index cards and ask students to write both sides with these instructions: (Side 1) Based on our study of (unit/topic) list a big idea that you understand and word it as a summary statement. (Side 2) identify something about (unit/ topic) that you do not fully understand and word it as a statement or question.

Inside/Outside circle

Students in concentric circles rotate to face partner to answer the teacher’s questions or those of a partner (via cue cards).

Instruct, insight, internalise

Teacher provides instruction to the students for 5-7 minutes, then says: Take a minute to think and record the key ideas or points you’ve heard so far or any questions you have. Teacher then continues instruction to the next stopping point and repeats the previous directions. When instruction is complete, students pair up and share their insights, key ideas, questions and summaries of what they heard.


Students read different passages of the same text or selection. After reading the passage, they take on the role of an expert for their specified piece of text. The “experts” then share the information from their reading with a specific rotating group or the entire class.


Use a K-W-L chart as a preview activity. Prior to instruction, students complete the ‘K’ (know) and W (want to know) columns. When instruction is complete, students complete the L (learned) column. Collect the organisers and check for understanding (Ogle, 1968)

Misconception Check

Pr sent student with common or predictable misconceptions about designated concept, principle or process. Ask students whether they agree or disagree and explain why. (Science resource 2016, assessment.aaas.org/topics

Numbered Heads Together

Each student is assigned a number. Members of a group work together to agree on an answer. The teacher randomly selects one number. The student with that number answers for the group.