The Big Idea – Strategies for checking learning

Before a staff meeting last week, all staff were asked to jot down one successful strategy they have used to check learning during lessons.  This is the result:

Successful methods used to check learning:

Colour card in their planners to identify they have understood.

A, B, C, D cards to quickly quiz students

Step work and get students to pair up and explain what they have been doing

Mini plenaries – tests

Speak to students about their progress verbally testing students

Use of mini whiteboards

Sarah Dedman – History


GCSE exam style question as starters – previous lesson

KS3 Practical – pass the ball as plenary, questions directed at that person.

Kelly McCullock – PE


Questioning – open / closed

Individual whiteboards involving whole class

Post it note on the board

Swap teacher for last 10 minutes, new teacher questions students on objectives (trialled with CGa) to check their learning

Groups of students have exam questions to work through – present to the rest of the class

Ask the student – students ask other students questions about the objective – I put particular students names in a hat who I want to question / check on learning

Students ask the questions

Red, amber, green cards in planner

Kate Blight – Mathematics


Display key words around room, use as prompts

Ask questions to class and get them to point on mass to appropriate key word

Plenary – write a series of complex sentences, each should include 2 key words

Angie White – Science


Mini white boards

Find the fib

Thumbs up / down


Multiple choice

Regular student marking the hands up if you got 8 or more correct

Emma McCann – Mathematics


Red, amber, green cards plus A, B, C, D in planners

Use of VLE – e.g. measure learning against a set of questions

Mini plenaries – e.g. tests

Speaking to students – verbally testing them

Mini whiteboards

Simon Uddin – ICT


Successful methods used to check learning:


Review of work mid lesson, looking at GCSE assessment criteria

Getting students to identify what they need to do to move forward

Use of post it notes

Red, amber, green cards to check understanding of technique / process

Steve Bloomer – Art & Design


Red, amber, green cards in back of planner – when introducing new words / tools / processes in lesson students are to leave planners open according to how confident they are with explaining / using / recalling word. Teacher can then recap as appropriate before end of lesson.

Emma Wade – Design & Technology


The free programme ‘socrative’, this programme allows you to use exit tickets, surveys, quizzes

I also like to use presentations and letting students teach other students showing that they have learnt it while teaching other students

Chris Mellett – Business & ICT


‘Spotlight’ – without prior warning, asking a student to stand up and describe what they are doing, why they are doing it and how they are doing it (usually used when students are working in groups)

David Hall – Drama


Letters in planners

Mini whiteboards

Stand up / sit down

Throw the dolphin

Green, amber, red cards in planners out on desks

Post it notes

5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 punch the wall

Simona Trignano – Science


Thumbs up if they understood

Wave hands (flat) if they are ok but could use more time

Thumbs down if require further help. I often do this in small groups as I go around the class


Practical demonstrations of skills taught

Showing students criteria in small groups and asking what they feel they are doing well with and what they feel they need to improve upon

Pat Sculley – PE


Quick quiz, peer marking, show of hands

Will Draper – Science



Mini whiteboards and post it notes

Questioning throughout the lesson

Use of whiteboards to answer as a group

Use whiteboards to write down questions for teacher and peers when unsure

Use of boards to note down strengths and areas of improvements for peer assessment

As above for posters

Lauren Fray – PE



Socrative exit ticket

Post it notes on the learning journey poster

Swap classrooms 10 minutes towards end of lesson to question students on objectives – trialled with KBg

Chloe Gardner – Business & ICT


5 quick questions – scaffolded

A, B, C, D cards in planners for multiple choice questions

Mini whiteboards

Harriet Schuler – Science


A, B, C, D cards


Mark books

Peer marking in class

Detailed questioning of students written task

David Brading – Geography


Use of red, amber, green pages in planners, students to leave this on desks and flip through the colours as they start to feel confident. Useful in highlighting where attention is needed. Students also seem to take control of learning and engaging moving towards green

Nigel Leat – Geography


Giving students post it notes to stick on the board. They can either write a comment on the note, or they can write their names on them and stick the notes on a continuum. Strategy can be used in a multitude of ways.

Andy Tharby – English


True of false questions

Finding the fib



Get students to perform a task, assess what was good, what would be better

Show grade criteria

Ask students to attempt the same task again

Use criteria to self / peer assess both pieces of work

Ask did you progress?



Ask students to explain what the task is

Peer assessment checks during the lesson

Walking round checking students’ progress


Quiz using A, B, C, D / red, amber, green planner cards

Nicky Hayes – Business & ICT


Student has trouble with specialist vocabulary of subject

Began lesson by checking their knowledge of relevant vocabulary

During lesson worked on definition of key terms

Ended the lesson by checking that the student could give definitions of key terms

Stan Holt – Teaching Assistant


I’m a trainee teacher here, but I will add what I have observed.

One method of checking understanding is by asking for a show of hands to see who understood the task / topic

You can then target who don’t, or if few students put their hands up you can spend more time explaining the task topic

Adam Harmer – ITT English


Get students to open planners to red if they are stuck, amber if they are a bit stuck, green if they are ok



When listening to individual readers I often ask for a synopsis of the story so far to check what they have remembered before we begin reading

Claudia Beard – Teaching Assistant


Using red, amber and green cards at start, during and end of lesson to assess how students feel they have achieved the learning objectives.



Questioning whole class and individual for less able.

Jack Corbett – PE


Red, amber and green cards in planner at points through the lesson

Faye Hedley – Science


Get students to write their response / answer on the whiteboard and justify it to the class

Hot seat students



Using green, amber and red cards after the first activity

No hands up questioned

Asking students to think of what questions they still have



Red, amber and green pages open and students change them as they feel more confident



Exemplar answers provided to students – marked by partner and fed back – check against grading criteria

Questioning – throughout lesson – mini plenary – at least x 3 throughout lesson

Tom Pickford – PE


A, B, C, D letter cards with quick A, B, C D question built into lessons



Use of mini plenaries rather than one at end

After each objective is covered do a small task related e.g. a statement on board –  students do thumbs up / down / side and I question several on their choice – relay their answers back to objectives / assessment criteria

Frankie Morton – PSHCE


Questioning throughout the lesson

Post it notes – write a question relevant to the learning, give it to partner to answer

Pull names out of a hat – questions

Lizzie Wolstenholme – PE


Red, amber, green and A, B, C cards

Teacher quiz

Students write questions – quiz each other




Checking homework together allows me to follow progress and students are given the opportunity to clarify any concerns.



Thumbs up


Peer assessment


Matthieu  Cauchy-Duval – MFL


Random name picker

No hands up

Questioning depending on ability



All students use progress arrow and ‘mark’ them against outcomes 3 times a lesson

James Gardner – MFL


True or false quiz where students all hold up an answer

A, B, C, D card questions as above

Answers on mini whiteboards

Force arrows, formulas, graphs

Mark Sandell – Science


Red, amber, green cards


Get one student to ask the question and another one answer it

Walk rounds

Reading red, amber, green work out


Red, amber, green planner pen during lesson – check throughout




Ask one student to explain to those around him / her what we are learning and to use language from the learning objective when explaining



A, B, C, D cards

Student demonstrations on PCs

Claire Johnson – Teaching Assistant


Teach a series of facts

Students create a mnemonic to help them

Next lesson, they are tested and have to use the mnemonic to check how effective it was

Naomi Bridgeman-Sweeney – English


Multiple choice questions using A, B, C, D cards in planner

One answer is best, another not wrong but still good, one is need more information (if they chose this they must say what they need to know), one is wrong

This gives a snapshot of where the whole class is

Or set a homework plenary quiz on Edmodo – next lesson look at the class breakdown and address questions students struggled on

Jack Tyler – PSHCE / History


5, 4, 3, 2, 1 i.e. write down 4 ___________ 3  ___________ 2  ___________ linked to what we have learned already

Reverse questions – differentiated

Provide a whole series of answers on the board

Named students to create a specific question then another student to pick the correct answer.

Chris Woodcock – Geography


I have found that a lot of students don’t have a basic knowledge of key words, terminology, etc. They are too shy to ask about basic stuff, and checking that they know this stuff (quietly) helps.

Brian Flook – Teaching Assistant


White boards – Writing questions for other students to do

Peer marking

Red, amber, green cards, A, B, C, D cards

Instead of writing the differentiated learning objective at the start of the lesson, towards the end I put them up and the students assess what level they have achieved according to what work they have produced in the lesson. I then check this when I mark the book and make a comment

Colour dots on the front of exercise books, so I can easily see what level / grade their MEG is

Chris Davis – Geography / Vocational Studies


“Did you get answer A, B, or C, if so why?”

Use multiple choice but provide 3 correct answers, ask students to justify what they are saying, then they are slowly understanding as opposed to reciting facts.

Tobi Stathers – Music


Using whiteboards in planners

Jane Squires – Mathematics


True or false questions using the red and green cards in students planners

Find the fib – similar to above

Sam Down – Mathematics


Red, amber and green cards in planners – students have them open throughout the lesson and change them depending on how they feel they are getting on. The teacher can then easily see who to target for further help / explaining / questioning and if the whole class is a sea of red and amber then the teacher knows to adapt the explanation / task for the whole class accordingly (same if everyone is green). The cards show at what particular point students get stuck and when they feel they have progressed – it also saves students (sometimes embarrassed) from putting their hand up.

Jenny Yate – Mathematics


A, B, C, D planner cards being used during a lesson

Kirsty Hanlon – Teaching Assistant


Get them to refer back to the learning objective and ask them to read it to me. Then I will pick out one or two points that relate to the learning objective and ask if they understand. If they do then I ask them to ask me a question relating to the learning objective.

Write down a keep point relating to the lesson in their planner and ask them the next lesson what it means.

Debbie Wilson – Teaching Assistant


Group critique of homework using post it notes with assessment criteria on for students to nominate work which fulfils the criteria.



Use of mini whiteboards and traffic light checks

Carole Marsh – SENCO


As a TA, 1 2 1, mini conversations with mid students e.g. check they have understood . Also use ‘individual extension’, ‘mini chunks’, ‘keywords’

– I can use my expert knowledge for further pointers in French, Spanish, Art, DT, Graphics.

Ros Loftin – Teaching Assistant

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