4 ways to support learner progress

Sarah, Teacher

There’s a joke about teaching you might have heard:

Teacher: “What is teaching?”

Principal: “We need you to make children know math”

Teacher: “Do they want to know math?”

“Principal: “No they don’t want to know it. You need to make them know it against their will.”

Teacher: “Who are these children?”

Principal: “Just whatever kids live near the building”

Hopefully your students are a little more engaged, but we’ve all had days where it feels like pushing a boulder up a hill.

Supporting learner progress is a critical part of our role, but standing in front of our students hoping that information will diffuse into them is wishful thinking.

So how do you engage students in a way that encourages them to progress and allows you to keep track of their progress along the way?

Formal assessments have their place, but they come with their own stresses, and lack the opportunity to correct course a long the way.

We’ve outlined 4 simple student check-ins you can use to encourage your students progress and spot where additional support is needed before any formalized testing.

1. Exit tickets for formative assessment

Using exit tickets as a tool for formative assessment gives you a snapshot of what students have understood and where they might need extra support.

Collecting exit tickets with Ziplet also gives you both student and class level insights, as well as the ability to follow up quickly and easily.

The questions you might ask your students in a formative assessment exit ticket are content specific. For example:

  1. What is the lightest element in the periodic table?
  2. What is the longest river in North America?
  3. What is your favorite quote by Atticus Finch?
  4. In what year did World War Two begin?
  5. Name three types of chemical reactions.

Following up this activity by reviewing student answers and going back to those who have struggled or the class as a whole can help students feel that their input is important. 

Ziplet allows you to respond to individual students or groups of students with similar answers in just a couple of clicks.

2. Lesson Reflection

Having students reflect on lesson content is a powerful tool for helping commit learning to memory. 

Lesson reflection goes beyond formative assessment in that it seeks unprompted recall from students and encourages deeper, personal thinking. This has the advantage of having students recall more of the lesson content than they might with a narrower set of lesson specific questions.

Some example questions you can use with your students include:

  1. How well did you understand today’s lesson?
  2. What are you still struggling to understand from today’s class?
  3. What is one thing you’d like me to explain more clearly?
  4. What is the most important thing you learned in class today? Why is it important?
  5. What is one thing you would like to practice again?

You can follow up this exercise by having students share their answers with the class. In doing so students can also benefit from the reflections of their classmates.

3. Goal setting

You can lead a student to the library, but you can’t make them read.

Students are the ultimate owners of their success. Whilst we can work to make lessons more engaging, or learning material more accessible, ultimately students must own their learning and strive towards aceheiving their own goals. 

That’s where goal setting comes in. By having students think about what it is they want to achieve and setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound, we can help them take a step towards ownership of their learning. 

Some examples of the types of questions you can use with your students include:

  1. What are two goals you have for your project?
  2. What would you like to accomplish in this project?
  3. What do you think are three keys to success for this project?
  4. What is one goal you have for this week?
  5. What are you excited to complete this week?

Have your students work on personally meaningful goals and write them down to review later. 

4. Goal reflection

Once your students have set their own goals, it’s important to have them reflect on them and what they can do to achieve them.

By reflecting on their goals, students can start to recognise the connection between their behaviours and learning outcomes.

Some example questions you might use with your students include: 

  1. How did you go against your learning goals?
  2. How well did you perform against your goals this week?
  3. What is one thing you found difficult in achieving your goals this week?
  4. How can you apply what you learned in this project to your own life?
  5. How would you rate this project? Why?

Wrapping up a project, the week, the semester or the year with a goal reflection can help drive students to be more actively engaged in their learning and strive towards achieving their goals in future. 


Successful teaching is about more than delivering lesson content. The job of a teacher is diverse and demanding. By adopting strategies that both help students remember lesson content and drive their own learning, we can be more successful in driving learner progress.

All of the questions above and more can be found in your Ziplet account. If you’re not already a member, you can join free.

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