CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING: 10 Techniques for Use in Any Learning Environment


[semester equivalent = 4.00 credits]



Shaila Bora




In this course for Pre-K–12 educators, we will delve into ten (10) easy to implement techniques used by master teachers to Check for Understanding (CFU.) We also will focus on normalizing error and enhancing understanding by combining other champion techniques that work synergistically with the CFU ten. Field test CFU techniques in your very own learning environment. Observe and share the remarkable effects of these powerful practices with your colleagues. Become more effective with your routines, by improving how you check for understanding today. 

If you took the course ED457t, 10 New Techniques from Teach Like A Champion 2.0, you may not take this course.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  1. Expanded their teaching repertoire to include ten (10) specific, actionable techniques to Check for Understanding.
  2. Uncovered other techniques that work synergistically with the CFU ten.
  3. Reflected on their teaching practices and routines with a focus on how to Check for Understanding.
  4. Customized and field-tested some of these CFU techniques in a learning environment.
  5. Created a learning environment that supports the everyday use of CFU techniques observed in the learning spaces of master teachers.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

The use of artificial intelligence is not permitted. Assignment responses found to be generated by AI will not be accepted.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participants their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, or Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, and Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering, determine with your district personnel, department head, or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



Required text Teach Like A Champion 2.0.  2015. ISBN 978-1-118-90185-4 is about $16 used from (A DVD accompanies the book)

None. All reading is online.


Text, Teach Like A Champion 2.0. 2015, is approximatley $16 used from (A DVD accompanies the book)



Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. 
Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 

Assignment #1: Reject Self-Report

How do master teachers Check for Understanding when reaching a natural transition point within or at the end of a lesson? 
Read pages 30-34. Watch Clip 1.
(If necessary see How to Access the Video Contents located opposite page 468 at the back of the book)
1. Explain the difference between Self-Report and Self-Monitoring.  
2. Develop three (3) verbal prompts that encourage self-monitoring and also alleviate social pressure.
    Read pages 190-193: Technique #26 Exit Ticket
    Read pages 282-285: Technique #37 Everybody Writes. Watch Clips 38, 39 & 40.
3. Evaluate if specific core content was missed.  Explain how to check by using Technique #26 Exit Ticket and  Technique #37 Everybody Writes.
    Read pages 244-249: Technique #32 Narrated Wait Time.  Watch Clips 29, 30 & 31.
4. Develop three (3) prompts that lead you and your class into Narrated Wait Time when Objective Questions are being asked.

In a 1-2 page paper, record your responses to #1- #4.
Post your response.

Assignment #2: Targeted Questioning

How do we frequently Check for Understanding throughout a lesson by using open-ended questions directed at a cross-section of the class?

Read pages 34-39.  Watch Clip 12
Look for one key transition in a lesson you teach. Plan ahead to insert a round of How and Why questions at this transition point. A What and When question is not open ended enough to determine whether or not students have understood, but any What and When questions can be changed into How or Why questions. Remember to use different formats to check for validity.

Write down your How and Why questions aimed to sample mastery (not just cursory understanding,) in a cross section of a class: slower & special needs, average pacing, and gifted & faster paced.

Exhibit your understanding of this technique: Compose a 1-2 page written summary wherein you describe a key transition and how you will use your How and Why targeted questions directed at a cross-section of the class to check for understanding. Include your How and Why questions in this summary illustration.

Post your response.

Assignment #3: Standardize the Format

How do we streamline our walk around observations during independent practice to efficiently collect data that will be useful for re-teaching or review?

Read pages 39-47.  Watch Clip 2
Read pages 143-152: Technique #19 - Double Plan

Focusing on the six (6) goals of double planning, think about how you might standardize the format to monitor independent practice. Show or explain how you have standardized the format.

Submit either a redesigned packet


a 1-2 page written description that features the 6 goals of double planning redesigned by you to better serve your planning.

Post your response.

Assignment #4: Tracking, Not Watching

Decide what you are looking for and decide to notice it with focus. Remember Less Is More.
Read pages 45-47. 

Watch Clips 42, 7, 66, 8, 1, 4, & 5.

Create a Tracking Chart to record evidence of errors/misconceptions and desired responses/targeted goals.

Post your response.

Assignment #5: Show Me!

How do we gather objective data from the entire class so that we can immediately reframe/reteach using a different approach?

Read pages 47- 51.  Watch Clips 3, 22, 56 & 4
Go to and read about the technique: Take A Stand. Note how it differs from Show Me.
Decide when to use hand signals and when to use slates/clickers (or the actual learning) to CFU.

Outline a lesson plan for a sub or for yourself that at some time uses hand signals and slates or some other medium to collect objective data on cue from the entire class. Clearly mark in the plan where each of these CFU techniques is to be used i.e. write “hand signals” or “slates.”

Submit the plan to the instructor.

Post your response.

Assignment #6: Affirmative Checking

How do we use checkpoints to confirm that student learning is meeting agreed upon processes and goals?

Read pages 51-55.  Watch Clip 5 and 6
Give attention to pages 52-53 that list ways to implement Affirmative Checking.
Imagine how to balance student driven checking with your own checking.
Where will students find correct/desired/acceptable responses? What tasks/activities are available for high performers and early finishers?

In a 1-2 page paper tell if and when Affirmative Checking is being used in your instruction and your organization of class resources.

Select one (1) improvement you would consider trying out today. Describe how to expand your skills and repertoire using this aligning technique.

Remember: when we start today we are one day ahead than when we begin tomorrow!

Post your response.

Assignment #7: Plan for Error & Culture of Error

How do we create a culture of error by planning for error?

Read pages 59-72.    Watch Clips 2,42,7,66,8,1,4,5
Reflect upon how students find, learn about and address errors on their own.
Consider how to withhold an answer by focusing on analysis through discussion rather than initial and immediate evaluation of correctness.

Compose a 1-2 page paper which features initiatives to reduce personal defensiveness so that the class may embrace a Culture of Error.

Be sure to include a list of engaging prompts for everyone's use.

Post your response.

Assignment #8: Excavate Error & Own and Track

What interventions do we make when we recognize gaps in mastery? How do we lead students to remember only desired/correct/acceptable responses?
Read pages 72-79.  Watch Clip 3

List all the ways you take immediate action to fix gaps in mastery. Now sort your list into the following columns: assess and move, light excavation, deep excavation.
Add in any of the following additional re-teaching interventions that work in your learning environment: different approach, redo the problem step, explain difficult terms, slower pace, use a different order, identify students of concern, use more repetitions, use a different format, etc.

In a 1-2 page report reflect on where you stand in creating an environment focused on correct/desired/acceptable responses; that is, describe how you minimize error. Also, talk about which of the interventions that you listed are most valuable. Describe how you minimize time spent with wrong/undesired/unacceptable responses.

Post your response.

Assignment #9: Annotated Summary Table for Quick Reference

Create a 2-column table.

  • In the first column choose excerpts referencing each of the 10 CFU techniques; include the text page number(s) at the end of each excerpt.
  • Use the second column for your annotations that explain how the technique is applicable to the specific demands of your professional situation.

Post your response.



In this section, you will apply your learning to your professional situation. This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students. If you do not have a classroom available to you, please contact the instructor for course modifications. Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. ​Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 


Assignment #10: Technique Try Out

Choose one(1) CFU technique to try out in your professional situation.
For an entire week journal your observations.

Write a 1-2 page evaluation and include recommendations toward mastery.

Post your response.

Assignment #11: Share a CFU Technique with a Colleague

Identify one (1) CFU technique to share with a colleague, a technique you both deem valuable, to eventually go on auto-pilot.

  • Invite the colleague into your learning environment to observe how the technique is supporting your agreed upon desires, impact, goals.
  • Write a 1-2 page report of the meeting, with recommendations.

Post your response.

Assignment #12: (500 Level ONLY)

In addition to the 400 level assignments, complete two (2) of the following assignment options:

Option A) 
Share Your Tracking Chart with a Colleague   
Explain to a colleague how to use the tracking chart you created in Assignment #4.
Invite him/her into your classroom to see it in action. 

Write a 1-2 page review that summarizes key features of the chart and any subsequent modifications that might have resulted from the observation.

Option B) 
Group Presentation

Prepare a presentation for colleagues or another group spotlighting Check for Understanding
techniques featured in this course. The presentation can be in the form of a PowerPoint, or other
design with instructor’s approval. Include a copy of any handout(s) you will use.

Option C) 
Technique #33 Cold Call as a Foundational Classroom Routine

Read pages 249-262. Watch Clips 28, 32 & 34.
Read pages 262-268:Technique #34 Call and Response.  Watch Clips 35 & 36.

In a 1-2 page response, script a Rollout Speech to introduce or refresh Cold Call in your learning environment.
Be sure to address the following:

1. What is Cold Call?

2. What does Cold Call look like as a classroom routine i.e. hands up, hands down, students standing, use of a signal alert etc.

3. Timing the Name.

4. What to do when a student doesn’t know the answer for example: “Pass” option, empathic response, cued call and response, phone a friend: seek help from peers/partners, teacher/mentor/other professional.
Option D) 
Another Assignment of your Own Design
with prior approval of the instructor.

Post your response.


Assignment #13: (Required for 400 and 500 level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments)

Write a 400-500 word Integration Paper answering these 5 questions:

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?


Instructors will comment on each assignment. If you do not hear from the instructor within a few days of posting your assignment, please get in touch with them immediately.


Shaila Bora, M.A. is currently working toward her PH.D. in Philosophy. Courses offered by Shaila are designed to tap into the creative potential and intuitive knowledge that each of us carries within. Through light touch supervision, we will open a dialogue that encourages experimentation with new techniques, and ways of being and doing that are already latent and waiting to be called forth. Nurturing this unique artistic spirit entails reflecting on and acting from your own experiences, observations, suggestions, questions, relationships, and perhaps a gentle nudge from a supportive someone else. So go ahead and choose the adventure that commands your thoughts and liberates your energy. Are you ready to try something new now? Come on, jump in, and let the magic happen.


CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING: 10 Techniques for Use in Any Learning Environment

Brookhart, Susan M. How to Create and Use Rubrics. ASCD. Alexandria, VA. 2013.  ISBN 978-1-4166-1507-1.
This comprehensive guide explains how to support learning by creating your own rubrics that relate to the learning, not the task. Also read about how to choose wisely from the many rubrics available online. Brookhart has included examples from all grade levels and assorted content areas.

Christodoulou, Daisy. Seven Myths About Education. Routledge. New York, NY. 2014.  ISBN 978-0415746823
A thoughtful read addressing some of our own misconceptions concerning common teaching practice and notions.

Hyerle, David N. & Alper, Larry. Student Successes With Thinking Maps. Corwin. Thousand Oaks, CA.  2011.  ISBN 978-1-4129-9089-9.
Find out more about how to use thinking maps as a transformational language in learning. This book presents 8 visual models that help learners to organize thoughts, examine relationships, enhance reasoning skills, create connections between subjects and engage with content. A picture is worth a thousand words! Assess student learning using Thinking Maps; it’s fast, fun and fastidious.

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking Fast and Slow. Penguin Books. New York, NY. 2011.  ISBN 978-0-03357-0.
Relevant chapters discuss the failure of our intuition to offer up responses that are not grounded in erroneous or irrelevant assumptions or misconceptions. Many of these initial easy responses are the sources of error in our understanding.

Lemov, Doug. Teach Like A Champion 2.0. San Francisco, CA.  Jossey-Bass. 2015.  ISBN 978-0-470-55047-2.
Text for this course.

Longman. Longman Advanced American Dictionary. Pearson Education Limited: Essex, England. 2005.  ISBN 1 405 82111 6
Here is a rave review for a dictionary that supports learners of Academic English, the language of opportunity.  In this one-of-a kind dictionary, the word being defined is not also in the definition!