Active Ways to Check Answers in Class

Checking answers to activities is a must in the classroom setting. Here are three seven tips to keep students engaged during the process:

1. As students finish the activity, assign pairs to do a check first. This allows students to confirm and/or discuss their answers. The peer might benefit from explaining why she believes she has the right answer as well as the student who gets to process an uncertainty. The teacher can wander the room to answer questions and, once he/she has determined that an answer is correct, assign pairs to write it on the board. This also give students who have not completed the work a chance to attempt it. This preliminary step insures that there will be less dead time during the whole-class check.

2. After bringing the whole class together, train students to monitor themselves. Let them know that they can pass if they want to. This can save time and embarrassment. Sometimes, a student will hesitate. Consider telling him that you will come back to him, and give him a few seconds to think. Be sure that you do! Also, ask the class to let the nominated student answer the question. When others shout out the answer to “help,” politely advise them that this is “Maria’s” question, and they must let Maria answer it. Give Maria six seconds to answer. Again, she can pass if she wants to.

3. Try to cover the entire room. Research shows that teachers tend to call on students in an uneven way. Consider moving in an asterisk so that you move from the student in the upper right corner to the lower left and then from lower right back up to upper left. Then middle-rear to front followed by left to right. Or, in classrooms where students sit in a horseshoe formation (Intercambio’s recommendation!), call on the student to the far right first, then the far left, then the person next to the far right student, and so forth.

4. To encourage students to learn each others names, you might ask the student who just answered to name the next student to speak. This method will require you to loosely

5. Ask a student who thinks he/she has all the right answers read all their answers. Other students shout STOP! if they hear something different from their own answer. The original student and “stopper” must then justify their different answers. The one who is correct continues reading. Sometimes this results in spirited arguments or in a class vote on the correct answer. It always results in everyone paying attention!

6. At the beginning of the term, give out index cards where students write their name in big letters on one side. Ask everyone to stand up. Then, using the index cards, call on students to answer the questions. When a student answers a question correctly, he/she sits down and the index card is removed from the pile. Otherwise, the student stays standing and his/her card stays in the mix.

7. As an alternative to tip 1, after pairing students, pair the pairs (to make groups of 4). Continue until you run out of students! Skip the whole group check. This will ensure correct answers without having to check them as a whole class.