Watch this video to see 'Four Ideas for Checking In' in action...

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The purpose of 'Four Ideas for Checking In'

To check how your students are feeling on the day. This is particularly important during a pandemic, but is a good way to start any class, in person or online, and can be as fast or as slow as you are comfortable.

Activity description

  • Useful for
  • Preparation
  • How to do it
  • Duration
  • Adaptations
  • Examples

Beginning of every synchronous meeting.

macbook pro displaying group of people

  • Apart from the text chat option, each of the others needs one slide to be prepared in advance, but you can reuse the same slide several times throughout the semester.

The video describes four different ways to check in:

  1. Text chat: Ask students “How are you feeling today” and they type in the chat, and you read some of their contributions aloud and react to them.
  2. Visual: Show students a page/slide with several pictures in tile mode, and ask students to select which one represents how they’re feeling right now; students can share in the main room via annotation or chat or speaking, or in pairs or trios in breakout rooms.
  3. Annotation: Show a slide with a triangle or one or more spectrum/a with different possible feelings, and students choose via annotation how they are feeling today.
  4. Word cloud: Use a polling tool (example in the video is slido), ask students to choose one word or short phrase to describe how they’re feeling today/now. The tool creates a word cloud, enlarging words that are repeated several times.

It takes anything from 1-2 minutes for students to contribute, then may take 4-5 more minutes of full-class discussion or just the teacher responding/reacting to students’ responses, or you can send students to breakout rooms in pairs or trios to discuss for 4-5 mins.

Here are some adaptations and alternative tools: 

  • Different polling tools that have word cloud question types you can use:
    • Slido (which also has Google slides integration, used in the video)
    • PollEverywhere
    • Mentimeter
    • Choose the tool that best fits your needs. Free versions of these sometimes have limits as to the number of questions you can ask or number of students that can be included in the responses. 

Example prompts for each quadrant:

  • You can create content-based prompts for each quadrant. E.g. after a class reading, students can reflect on a key thing they learned, a big question they have, a word or quote they enjoyed, and how the reading made them feel.
  • List 7 things you’ve seen, heard, felt/did, and compose a small drawing.
  • What have you noticed & observed, so what seems important about that data, now what’s needed next.
  • In times of grief/trauma: Yes it is true that [Affirmation]… It is hard because [Despair]… I will always remember/I will never forget [Reconnection]… Now that I have shared my loss, it may be possible to [Active Hope]…

Additional resources

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[…]  OneHE –There are so many great resources on this site! The A-Z Index of Teaching is fantastic. OneHE’s four-pronged community-based approach to better teaching includes being Connected, Informed, Questioning, and Caring. This site is definitely worth a visit (or several).Of particular use for a day like today is their step-by-step activity for checking-in on students to see how they are feeling today. Here it is – Four Ideas For Checking-In […]

tom cosgrove
2 months ago

Feeling exercise got me thinking: I do reflective writing work with engineering students. I suggest to them that learning opportunities may be revealed by feelings. I model that myself so I am at risk also. So the ‘how are you feeling’ exercise chmes with my curriculum.

However the matter of privacy arises for me: many students do not care to share in this way so at the very least I need a technical solution to preserve anonymity peer-to-peer and student-teacher. I work with a predominantly male group (engineering) with a few females . Males may not share and females may feel reluctant being somewhat submerged in a male student culture.

How do I use these resources?

We have created a welcome video and some introductory text that explains in detail how to use these resources. You can also find answers to some key questions below. 

Yes you can. We have included descriptive text and slides that you can reuse / adapt for this reason. We have suggested some variations for activities to help you make adaptations.

We show how much time an activity should take and what resources you need to help you make a decision.

As we include more resources over time you will have a greater choice of activities and more information about the different contexts within which they work best. 

Any technique can block some people out, make them feel unwelcomed, or be used in a way that privileges some and makes it harder on others.

All of these techniques should be used in conjunction with pedagogies of care and what we call Intentionally Equitable Hospitality

If you try an adaptation of this activity, or try it as is and have interesting results to share, please contribute your adaptation/reflection in the comments or get in touch through social media / email.

Coming soon: there will be room to discuss these activities in private discussion forums in OneHE’s.

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