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Stop Saying 'Do You Understand?' Case Study

28 Jun 2019

"Pupils are working more independently. It's a life-changer."


My Context

I am a primary school teacher at converter mainstream academy in Ashton-under-Lyne with an Ofstead rating of 2. It is a gender-mixed school with 388 students between the ages of three to eleven years old. 27.8% of the students at the school are entitled to free school meals.

What I wanted to improve

My aim is to get students to listen in class and follow instructions the first time they are asked without disruptions. 


The strategy that I used was the Stop Saying 'Do You Understand?' by Doug Lemov. The objectives of this strategy are to improve the engagement and focus of pupils while prompting them to ask better questions in class. This should allow me to get accurate information on what the students do and don’t understand. 

What would success look like?

Success would be students becoming more independent while improving their problem-solving skills. I wanted my students to be able to begin tasks quicker with less teacher talk time. 

How did I approach it?

I introduced this strategy straight away to my whole class. I would put the initiative into place by giving instructions to the class and then asked the students to close their eyes and rate from 1 to 4 how confident they felt they understood the instructions. 1 finger would be not confident all the way to 4 fingers being very confident. After they opened their eyes I asked a  pupil who rated a 1 to explain the task again, and then a pupil who rated a 4 to explain the task. Afterwards, I could get all the pupils who said a 1 to come to the front to explain the task again.

Resources and Cost Required

There is no cost required for this strategy and only minimum effort. However, a is TA needed as consistency is key.


Results and Conclusions

Success criteria

What changed and why?

Students are becoming more independent and problem-solving

Students are more able to work independently/listening more clearly and are focussing more because they know that they will have to explain the task back. They are also working more independently. Life changer!

Students are quicker to begin tasks

At first, the student's weren’t as quick as they had to stop, do the confidence rating and I had to explain to them what to do next. However, they quickly realised that I would ask students who put up 4 to explain the task. While it was slow at first, the pace has quickened. This meant that everyone was doing what they should be doing, not what they thought they should be doing.

Less teacher talk time

At first, this strategy increased the talk time as I had to explain to the students what they had to do. But now I just have to say “confidence” and “hands up” and the students immediately know what to do. It has reduced the time that I spend explaining tasks and now I do not have to go around explaining the task to 15 different kids in 15 different ways.


Overall Rating - 5/5

I would definitely recommend this strategy. It is incredibly useful and has changed the classroom environment. Even the lowest ability groups are starting to understand teaching straight away.

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