There are many reasons to utilize questions to check for understanding. Teachers will be better able to check on the level of understanding from groups and individuals by utilizing questions to lead students to conclusions without giving away the answer.  By doing this, students will be required to utilize critical thinking skills, and also display the knowledge associated with the lesson. It is important that the teacher not only utilize questions to check for understanding of the most vocal or outgoing students, but also the students that are less willing to speak up in class. By using different techniques that allow these students to respond, teachers can adaquately gauge their students’ progress at multiple levels.

When responding to students’ questions in class it is important to build self confidence in the students regardless of their answer. Some helpful methods that facilitate this include subtley assisting the student find correct answers by leading their reasoning in a logical manner towards correcting an incorrect answer. In this way, students use their problem solving, logical thought process, and prior knowledge of the subject to utilize a critical thinking method that leads them to a correct answer. This is a necessary procedure as not assisting a student who has answered incorrectly could lead to lack of confidence in their answers, their ability to perform tasks, and a slipping grasp on a subject that may be just within reach. There are many ways to assist students who may not quite be up to par, but need just a bit of illumination to guide their learning.

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Oral language is the mode by which we express and understand concepts, ideas, and knowledge. Even the smallest children communicate with simple oral language to describe the things around them. It is important that teachers provide students with the proper oral languages to help them in critical thinking and learning.  There are many tools students and teachers can use to help them communicate.  By properly utilizing these tools, students can better learn ideas, and teachers can gauge more accurately their students understanding. However, some methods of communication that teachers use to check for understanding may be ineffective at truly testing for the critical thinking and understanding that students require. Many effective methods involve students communicating not only with the teacher, but also among their peers. There are many different approaches to take that reinforce learning and emphasize concrete understanding. An example of these methods is the Think-Pair-Share approach.

In order for the students to better understand the concepts and ideas being taught, they are asked to essentially mull over the things they have learned, talk about it with a partner, and then share with the entire group what they’ve discussed. The steps are simplified as thinking, pairing  up, and then sharing. This method isn’t complex and can be used with a variety of other methods. This approach is useful in that it allows the students to get feedback on their understanding in two different ways. First, students communicate with a partner. This first step may help students who are having challenges understanding something by giving them a different perspective, or help students share their combined knowledge to reach an intelligent conclusive idea. Second, as students share with the class their understanding of the topic can be spread to other students who may not have had that perspective before, and may integrate it into their current schema. For teachers this is an invaluable way to check for understanding in that it allows them to hear from students almost individually, and they can address issues as they arise from each group to better assist those individuals and the class as a whole.

Think-Pair-Share is an interesting technique. I am having trouble applying it to an Art classroom. Techniques and skills are primarily individually practiced, but ideas and concepts such as culture and history could be topics that thrive using Think-Pair-Share. For example, when discussing Van Gogh, students could discuss what influenced him, and why he painted the way he did. There are many more applications for these topics and they would probably help students better understand ideas that could help influence their own art.

Checking for understanding is an important step in a student’s learning process, and also the teacher’s teaching methods. It is important to check for understanding during a lesson for a number of reasons. Many students, myself included, aren’t self-regulated learners. That is to say, these students make themselves believe that they understand concepts taught during the lesson, but in actuality, do not really grasp them.  Some students will be unable to ask for assistance when they don’t understand something, this feel of inadequacy will jade them and they will be unable to get assistance in learning these concepts. Though not limited to these reasons, it is important for the teacher to take initiative when the student is unable to. When a teacher checks for understanding, they’re filling in the gaps that students will inevitably have after the initial lesson. These gaps are caused by the issues mentioned above, and others, and checking for understanding helps to address these issues and help to complete their understanding of the topic where it might have been an issue before.

Not only does checking for understanding address some of these issues, but it also specifically addresses others. In order for learning to be enduring and long laster, checking for understanding is necessary in that it allows students to critically think about subjects that they might otherwise just receive verbatim from a teacher. By checking for understanding, students will be able to adapt the knowledge they’re gaining from the teacher and correlate this will knowledge they already have to create a better understanding of the new knowledge.

Utilizing these and other methods, teachers will be better able to address the needs of individual students. Using these plans that are tailored to specific learning challenges that students may have, teachers are able to tailor their lessons around students, and while checking for understanding help fill in gaps, improve their ability to learn, and also creating enduring knowledge.