Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

12.15.14Some Cool & Useful Tools for CFU (Video)

One of the new techniques I describe in Teach Like a Champion 2.0, (due out in early January) is Show Me. It lives in one of the two chapters on Check for Understanding and describes ways that students can present data to teachers so they can quickly and efficiently scan to assess mastery during class.

A great example of this is what Bryan Belanger is doing in this clip: Hand Signals.  On a consistent cue, students present their answers on their fingers. Bryan quickly scans the room and assesses the level of mastery.

In this example, Bryan’s students consistently got the questions from his Do Now, which he’s reviewing here, correct.  Even so, you may note that he tests for reliability on the last question, asking a follow-up question to ensure that students could explain their process.  In the new version of the book you can also see a clip of Bryan responding to student errors that this technique reveals.

Hand Signals can be a powerful way to review a series of daily Do Now questions and the like. To work well it relies on a snazzy, in-cue, a mini-routine for having students signal their answer at exactly the same time so they can’t copy cat and in a way that just maybe is fun and energetic and  makes kids want to join is.

Bryan’s solution, calling it “Rock Scissors Paper” and letting his kids bang three times on their desks and then show their responses, is great example of how to make it fun and engaging and useful.  We love it.

But at our recent CFU workshop we practiced using hand signals and teachers who’ve been trying it out shared some pretty amazing adaptations. They were so good we asked them to model for us at lunch because we knew you’d love em. So here are Sarah Beth Wilkinson of Democracy Prep Public Schools’ Endurance Middle School and Najla Crawford of Houston Independent School District’s Hartmann Middle School showing off their in-cues for Hand Signals.

A couple of notes: Najla’s “slap, clap, snap” is designed to maximize the physical engagement of kids–one of the benefits of the approach is it is tactile and physical and kids tend to really like that aspect.  Sarah Beth designed hers to allow her to make sure students were following through so she can pause at two and make sure all hands are up and all students are ready to go and then see the answers.


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One Response to “Some Cool & Useful Tools for CFU (Video)”

  1. Rose
    September 16, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    I like this — it just makes it more fun for the students.

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