When I was on prac I saw a tool. A teaching tool. ‘Thumbs.’ Throughout the class, a math class, the teacher would ask “Thumbs?” and the students would present their hands with either thumbs up, down or sideways to show how confident they were with the topic. It was a tool that students understood and used maturely to either get help or progress. It is simple and effective, but it could be improved by using technology to make it a live marker of student understanding.

The idea stood out to me because one of the major problems I had had as a teacher to this point was understanding when students had grasped the lesson concepts and when they were just nodding and smiling, or more accurately when the blank stares were comprehension and when the blank stare were confusion. This can be a problem because as a teacher you may be wasting breath preaching to the choir if they have already understood a concept, or you may be progressing too fast with students getting lost but not wanting to be held accountable.

In broad strokes the issue is akin to the teacher needing to make guesses, albeit educated ones, on student understanding. It is a gamble that may pay off in many cases but with improved teaching tools to address the problem there could be an increase in lesson efficiency with less time spent on already understood concepts and greater equity in making it easier for all students to understand concepts.

I was never that good at poker so the idea of having a tool to help me read students understanding rather than looking for ‘tells’ of where their comprehension is something that is very interesting and I would even say exciting (#Teacher Interests).

So, as invested parties would you give the need for checking for understanding the thumbs up, thumbs down or you might need a new tool to let me know how you feel.

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