50 Ways to Check for Understanding in the Virtual Classroom

Are you a chat pod offender?!

Do you rely on a single chat pod for student responses? Or do you frequently vary the student response methods? If the chat pod is your best friend, it’s time to re-evaluate your relationship; you are an offender!

Hey, don’t be too hard on yourself; it’s incredibly easy to fall into the habit of only using the chat pod, but I challenge you to think for a moment: is this the most effective method for every single question? For some, yes! For others, no.

We all know that students love to repeat each other’s answers, even if they are incorrect! Not to mention that sometimes the chat becomes cluttered with off-topic comments or questions, leaving student answers hidden amongst other debris. In order to truly measure what your students know, you must vary your response methods and ask students to respond frequently and diversely. Remember that providing immediate feedback is a critical step in the formative assessment process.

I stumbled across a list of 53 Ways to Check for Understanding and decided to add a cyber twist. I present to you: 50 Ways to Check for Understanding in the Virtual Classroom!

Want to see these ideas in action? Come to my workshop on Friday, November 21st at noon. 

50 Ways to Check for Understanding in the Virtual Classroom

  1. Misconception Check
    •Give a common misconception about a topic.
    • Ask students to give a green check if they agree or a red x if they disagree.
    • Have students explain why they agree or disagree in the Q&A pod.
    • Call on a student and ask him/her to use the microphone to explain his/her reasoning.
  2. Pick Your Poison
    • Write 6 higher-order thinking questions related to the content.
    • Create 6 chat pods and place one question in each pod.
    • Ask students to select one question and respond to it in the appropriate chat pod.
  3. Create a Word Cloud
    • Upload the Word Cloud app to a share pod.
    • Ask students to each contribute 3 key words from the lesson in the chat pod.
    • Copy and paste the words into the app.
  4. Collaborate and learn
    • Place students in small groups. List the student names in a note pod so they know which group they are in.
    • Create a series of chat pods, one for each group, and rename each pod with the group name or number (ex. Group 1, Group 2, etc.).
    • Place a question in each chat pod and instruct students to work together to solve the equation or develop an answer.
    • Then ask students to circulate through the pods and pose an alternate process, solution, or answer to each question.
  5. Superlatives
    • Display a series of superlative categories and options (Equation Most Likely to Find Area; Process Most Likely to Produce Energy; etc.)
    • Ask students to vote through a poll pod.
  6. Summary Poem Activity
    • In a note pod, list ten key words from an assigned text or lesson.
    • Ask students to compose a free verse poem with the words you listed and share in a chat pod.
  7. Rate Understanding
    • Have students rate their understanding in a poll pod.
    • Don’t broadcast the results!
  8. The 411
    • Describe the objective (author’s objective, lesson objective, research objective, etc.) in a short answer pod.
  9. Opinion Chart
    • As a class, brainstorm opinions about the content in the left column of a T-chart.
    • Ask students to raise their hands if they’d like to contribute an opinion. Allow students to use their microphones to verbally offer their opinions.
    • Use your Starboard pen to write the student answers in the left column of the T-chart.
    • Place a chat pod next to each opinion (in the right column) and ask students to type in their reasoning and support for the opinions shared.
  10. Main Idea Check
    • List key words from a lesson in a note pod.
    • Ask students to write a summary of their learning based on these words and share in a short answer pod. They must use each word in their response.
  11. 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?
    • Create a Venn diagram as a PPT or PDF and upload it into a share pod.
    • Ask students to raise their hands if they’d like to contribute.
    • Give students the pen so they can write on the Venn diagram.
  12. Color Cards—Status Symbols
    • Red X= "Stop, I need help."
    • Green Check= "Keep going, I understand."
    • Turtle = "I'm a little confused."
  13. So What? Journal
    • Identify the main idea of the lesson. Why is it important?
    • Share in a short answer pod.
  14. Explain Your Solution
    • Ask students to describe how they solved an academic problem, step by step, in the chat pod.
  15. Offer Another Solution
    • After working through a problem, ask students to offer different ways to solve the problem in a specific chat pod.
  16. Explain
    • Explain the main idea using an analogy.
    • Share in a specific chat pod.
  17. Evaluate
    • What is the author's main point? What are the arguments for and against this idea?
    • Create a T-chart. Place a chat pod in each column. Ask students to type their arguments for on the right side and arguments against on the left side.
  18. Describe
    • What are the important characteristics or features of the main concept or idea of the reading?
    • Share answers in a chat pod.
  19. Define
    • Pick out an important word, phrase, or concept. What does it mean?
    • Ask students to provide a quick definition in the Q&A pod.
  20. Illustrate
    • Give each student a whiteboard.
    • Ask each student to illustrate the meaning of a word, phrase, or concept.
    • Have students use their microphones to verbally explain their illustrations.
  21. Question Stems
    • I believe that ________ because _______.
    • I was most confused by _______.
    • Place these stems in a note pod.
    • Ask students share their answers in a specific chat pod.
  22. Pod Practice
    • Create a share pod for each student (or groups of students if you have more than 15 students).
    • Upload a PDF activity to each pod.
    • Assign students to pods and give pen rights (or promote all students to presenters).
  23. Mind Map
    • Create a mind map that represents a concept.
    • Give each student a whiteboard or link to a prepared Google Doc.
  24. Intrigue Journal
    • List the five most interesting, controversial, or resonant ideas you found in the readings or in today’s lesson.
    • Create 5 chat pods and label each (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th).
    • Ask students to type their responses in the corresponding chat pods.
    • As a class, identify trends. What was most shocking or interesting? What didn’t make the list
  25. Advertisement
    • Create a slogan for the newly learned concept.
    • Share in the chat pod.
  26. 5 Words
    • What five words would you use to describe ______?
    • Share in a short answer pod.
    • Call on students to explain and justify their choices.
  27. Muddy Moment
    • What frustrates and confuses you about this concept? Why?
    • Share in a chat pod.
  28. Email
    • Explain _______ in a quick email to your best friend.
    • Submit answers in the Q&A pod.
  29. Talk Show Panel
    • Have a cast of experts debate the finer points of _______.
    • Make sure everyone has a working microphone!
  30. Study Guide
    • Upload a study guide to a share pod.
    • Place a variety of pods (poll, short answer, chat) over the document, creating one pod for each question.
    • Ask students to complete each question by collaborating within the pods. (Which answer in the poll pod got the most votes?; what is the common answer in the short answer and chat pods?)
  31. KWL Chart
    • What do you know, what do you want to know, and what have you learned?
    • Upload a KWL chart to a share pod as a PPT or PDF.
    • Place a chat pod in each column.
    • Ask students to complete the chart by typing in the appropriate chat pods.
  32. 3-2-1
    • Three things you found out.
    • Two interesting things.
    • One question you still have.
    • Share in a chat pod.
  33. Outline
    • Represent the organization of _______ by outlining it in the Q&A pod.
  34. Simile
    • What we learned today is like _______.
    • Share in a short answer pod.
  35. The Minute Paper
    • In one minute, describe the most meaningful thing you've learned.
    • Share in the Q&A pod.
  36. Interview You
    • You’re the guest expert on 60 Minutes. Answer:
    1. What are component parts of _______?
    2. Why does this topic matter?
    3. Share in the Q&A pod.
    4. Call on students to share responses with their microphones.
  37. Double Entry Notebook
    • Create a two-column table and upload it to a share pod.
    • Use the left column to write down 5-8 important quotations (use your Starboard software).
    • Use the right column to record reactions to the quotations. Place a chat pod next to each quotation and ask students to type their reactions in each pod.
  38. Tagxedo
    • What are key words that express the main ideas or steps to remember?
    • Share words in a chat pod.
    • Call on students to explain.
  39. Twitter Post
    • Define _______ in under 140 characters.
    • Submit answer in the short answer pod.
  40. Ballad
    • Ask students to summarize their learning in lyrics.
    • Have them share their responses in a short answer pod.
    • Ask for volunteers to use their microphones to share their ballads.
  41. Bio Poem
    • To describe a character or person, write a poem that includes:
    • (Line 1) First name
    • (Line 2) 3-4 adjectives that describe the person
    • (Line 3) Important relationship
    • (Line 4) 2-3 things, people, or ideas the person loved
    • (Line 5) Three feelings the person experienced
    • (Line 6) Three fears the person experienced
    • (Line 7) Accomplishments
    • (Line 8) 2-3 things the person wanted to see happen or wanted to experience
    • (Line 9) His or her residence
    • (Line 10) Last name
    • Share in the chat pod. If you have a small group of students, give each student his/her own chat pod.
  42. Sketch
    • Visually represent new knowledge.
    • Give each student a whiteboard (can be done in Breakout Rooms if you have too many students).
  43. Top Ten List
    • What are the most important takeaways, written with humor?
    • Give each student a chat pod to share his/her list or have everyone share in one chat pod.
  44. Quickwrite
    • Without stopping, write what most confuses you.
    • Write in the Q&A pod.
  45. Conference
    • A short, focused discussion between the teacher and student.
    • This can be facilitated in a private chat, the Q&A pod, or in a Breakout Room.
  46. Take a count
    • Upload the Hands Up app to a share pod.
    • Pose a series of questions and use the symbols to represent answer options.
    • Ask students to click on their answer (hand, thumbs up, thumbs down, applause, or smiley face).
  47. Why are these wrong?
    • Provide a series of wrong answers and mistakes.
    • Ask students to explain why the answer is wrong or to identify the mistake that was made in the example work.
    • Have students share their answers in the chat pod.
    • Call on students to use their microphones to explain their reasoning.
  48. Take a vote
    • Pose a question and have students respond in the chat pod.
    • Using a poll pod, have students vote on the best answer.
    • Ask the winner to verbally explain his/her reasoning through the microphone.
    • Instruct students to make their assigned pods “Full Screen” and complete their activities.
  49. Debrief
    • Reflect immediately after an activity.
    • Ask students to submit their reflections in the Q&A pod.
  50. Exit Slip
    • Have students reflect on lessons learned during class.
    • Ask them to respond in a short answer or Q&A pod.

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Never stop learning,


Ashly LocklinComment