Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

What Are You Doing and Why?

Lindsey Link, Patricia Turner, Janis Slater | Published: September 30th, 2021 by K20 Center


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What Are You Doing and Why?

This instructional strategy is a quick formative assessment of your class's understanding of the purpose of a learning activity. The data collected in this quick check-in will tell you if the students are engaged, both hands-on and minds-on.

What Are You Doing and Why?


If a visitor walked into your classroom and asked your students what they were doing and why they were doing it, you would hope they would be able to answer their questions. This strategy helps teachers find out if the students know the purpose of the learning activity.


  1. At any point during an instructional activity, pause and ask students, “What are you doing, and why do you think you are doing it?”

  2. Encourage students to describe what they believe the purpose of the learning activity is and what they expect to learn from it.

  3. You can have them discuss with a partner, share it with the class, or jot it down quickly on a sheet of paper.

Keeley, P. (2016). Science formative assessment: 75 practical strategies for linking assessment, instruction, and learning (Vol. 1). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.