What’s a quick way to assess learning?
In ancient Greece, Zeno of Citium used his hand to represent four stages of knowledge.
Things don’t have to be complicated yet sometimes when it comes to assessment things can get very convoluted and unnecessarily complex.
If you are looking for a nice and easy assessment strategy then why not simply ask children what they understand!
Using the ‘fist of five’ strategy is not rocket science although it is fast!
All you have to do is ask everyone a question and then they respond by showing you using their fingers.
They can hold up one or two fingers for ‘not really sure yet’ (a fist can be ‘I don’t understand this at all…yet) and three or four fingers for ‘almost there’.
Five fingers would obviously mean ‘I get it’ although don’t be fooled as some pupils might not ‘get it’ at all.
The fist of five strategy (also called fist to five) is a quick and immediate way of providing you with information at a glance and allows you to edit your teaching accordingly.
If you are worried about the use of ‘two fingers’ or the middle finger then yes, you should be and this does need carefully managing.
When showing fingers they should be palm facing the teacher. I used to avoid using this strategy because of the silliness associated with finger swearing but if you set out your stall from the outset then you can nip things in the bud. As always, it depends who you are teaching and some individuals will cope better than others so this strategy may not be appropriate.
If you want to keep things really simple then just use a fist for ‘I don’t get it’, three fingers for ‘I sort of get it’ and five fingers for ‘got it and I can explain to someone else what to do’.
Alternatively, use a thumbs up, thumbs down and a thumbs in between system instead.
Finger assessment is fit for the digital age despite all the amazing software out there. It’s a no fuss rating scale and can be used not just for assessing understanding but also for judging opinions, confidence and task readiness.
Fist to five is simple, silent and safe.