Teachers using Dr. Marzano’s research-based strategies are encouraged to monitor small bits of student achievement throughout the course of each lesson, rather than wait for test scores.
To accomplish this, they need to monitor the relationship between teaching and learning while it is happening. Many experienced teachers can adjust lessons and instructional strategies as necessary, despite whatever they might have planned to do that day, but this skill takes time and deliberate practice to develop.
When done well, monitoring clears misconceptions before students leave for the day so they don’t live with errors in reasoning and rehearse those errors in their homework assignments. It also allows teachers to capture additional instructional time, once students have demonstrated mastery of key concepts and skills.
Five Ways to Incorporate Monitoring Into Lessons
1) Entrance and Exit Tickets require students to demonstrate mastery of key parts of the content as they arrive or leave the classroom. Tickets may cover learning targets or ask learners to identify where specific parts of understanding occurred and where any misunderstandings began.
Example: if students are graphing equations, the entrance ticket could be three problems of varied complexity, allowing the teacher to see if students can complete the problems and where their understanding may have been altered.
2) Reflection on Learning asks students to consider what they feel certain about, what they’re still unclear about, and what has helped them learn.
Example: after teaching part of a lesson, the teacher may ask students to:
- Fold their paper, leaving a two-inch margin at the bottom, and draw a line on the fold.
- Fold the paper in half and draw a line on the fold to make an upside down “T.”
- Write in the first column everything they remember about that day’s content.
- Write in the second column what is still unclear, along with any questions they have.
- Write in the two inches at the bottom what helped them learn the information.
This helps teachers take a quick reading to inform their next layer of instruction. Now, they can help students revise their knowledge and clear areas of confusion. They also now know what students found helpful during their learning.
3) Revising Knowledge helps students communicate what they know about the critical content and see how their understanding has evolved.
Example: Recycling the reflection activity above, a teacher may have students answer their own questions in the second column or revise unclear information in the first column. On the back of the paper, students may summarize how their understanding changed over time.
4) Accountable Answers helps the teacher gauge all students’ understanding of the content, rather than getting an estimate by looking at the majority.
Examples: Teachers have a lot of flexibility when they use a monitoring strategy that requires all students to respond, but here are a few suggestions:
- Have learners quickly display their responses on whiteboards.
- Use a technological platform like automated voting or Edmodo, where students can respond and also respond to the responses of others.
- Label the four corners of the room and have students walk to the corners that correspond with their responses, essentially “voting with their feet.”
- Ask students to write quick reflections on what they have learned, exchange their responses with peers, and add to one another’s responses.
5) Summarizing is an activity we don’t see as often as we probably should. It shows the teacher how much of the lesson the students understood and offers them an opportunity to adjust instruction accordingly. Because this strategy needn’t take long (students can simply summarize in quick phrases or key words), summarizing can be done frequently for smaller bits of critical content.
Example: The teacher may stop at a planned interval and have students provide three descriptors for a particular character, person, or concept from the lesson. Students who need an extra challenge might even create categories and make more elaborate lists.
Would you like to take a deeper dive into monitoring? We have the perfect book for you! Creating & Using Learning Targets & Performance Scales: How Teachers Make Better Instructional Decisions is now available at the Learning Sciences bookstore!