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I have started using a "check for understanding" strategy this year called, "Fist Five."  When I first heard it, I thought, "My, that sounds kind of violent!"  Then I tried it in my classroom and ding, ding, ding, ding!!!  The lightbulbs went right on!!  

You mean, I'm supposed to ASK my students if they understand?!  Duh!  I usually look for a confused a furrowed brow, or a puzzled expression.  I always hope to see an "Aha!" expression on most faces, finger up in the air!!  "WE GOT IT, MRS. O!!"  But we all know, that we walk around and around our classrooms looking for clues of misunderstanding, which is sometimes apparent and sometimes not.

Now I ask my students to give me a "Fist Four" to show if they understand.  Four fingers to your chest means "I got it and can teach others!"  Three fingers means "I got it!"  Two means "I think I got it, but still need some help."  One means...."Don't got it...please help!"  So brilliant!!  I use this strategy every day, several times a day.  My kiddos love it and so do I I made a poster for my classroom and some bookmarks for the can get those at my tpt store.


 That common core....its so great....but so scary too!  It is really nice to have a common path for all teachers to follow, but "Wow" have you seen the stuff they want our kids to know?!  Wowwwwweeeee!  Things have sure changed since I was a kid.  I mean, when I was 8 years old, my parents and teachers were happy if was reading regularly.  Nobody expected me to make cross-text connections and support my predictions with evidence from the text.  I know our kids can rise to this challenge and they will be better readers, writers and learners as a result of the common core.  I am doing my best to keep up with it all and not let my students down.

In the spirit of getting to know these standards "like the back of my hand" as suggested by the common core gurus in my district...I created some child-friendly Common Core ELA posters for my classroom (truth is...they're teacher-friendly too).  I've only completed the Language Arts version...but I'm working on math next.  If you teach third grade and would like these (very cute) posters...visit my tpt store.


Love and Peace,


  1. Love your posters! Such a great idea. I am your newest follower...drop by =)

    Just Wild About Teaching

  2. I love the fist to four, such a good idea, thanks for sharing. And I love your sweet blog. You can visit me anytime:)

  3. Hi Kathy,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am loving your Fist to Four. We started implementing the student self evaluations last year. I just ask them if they are a 1, 2, 3, or 4. Yours is so much cuter. CCSS is full on in primary but intermediate won't be fully implemented until next year. I started learning and using it this year. I don't like to wait! Glad I found your blog!
    Beach Sand and Lesson Plans

  4. Hello there! I found your blog through a search. I mentioned this post (with a link) on my blog today (I hope that's okay!) I am a new follower! Thanks!
    Second Grade is Out of This World!

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