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>By Janet Kaback, Newark, NJ

A teacher said: “We often have no evidence our talk is helping students. I assume teachers don’t usually design a listening task for what they’re going to say in class, so how do you know students actually understand? How do you know your teacher talk is helping students develop their listening skills?”

How can we tell if our teacher talk is helping students develop their listening skills? I use a number of techniques to ascertain their understanding:

  1. I ask the students to restate what I’ve said.
  2. I have the students write down what they THINK I’ve said.
  3. I ask the students to tell me what it is that is confusing them.
  4. If students do not follow the given directions, it is obvious that they didn’t understand.

If the students did not understand, I will find one that did and ask that person to restate what I’ve said. If I do not feel that the message is clear, I reteach it in another manner immediately plus write it on the chalkboard.

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