Monday, September 10, 2012

Exit slips du jour

We all struggle with how to formatively assess our students in a way that doesn't take up too much class time, but still allows us to get the information we need to plan future learning opportunities. One way to get this information is with a targeted exit slip.

I tried an exit slip in class today that worked really well. I asked students to rate their engagement in the lesson and their understanding of the objective (I can evaluate expressions using the order or operations). This is an important step in getting them to metacogitate (think about their thinking - don't you just love that word?? :)) and become more evaluative of their learning. We spent a bit of time discussing what it means to be engaged in a lesson and had a really good discussion! Students then picked one of two problems to work so I could formatively assess where they are at. I wrote one problem with an exponent and one without. Exponents are still tripping up some of my kiddos and I don't want that to keep them from showing me what they know about the order of operations.

It was really easy to sort the slips into two piles: one pile of students who are ready to move on or try some more difficult problems and a pile for ones who need a bit more work. Tomorrow, I have a differentiated activity planned and the piles made it really easy to put students into groups at their approximate ability levels.

I've pasted the template (with my learning target and math problems) below. It's easy to simply change the learning target and problems and you'll have an exit slip ready for whatever unit of study you're teaching. If you teach in a district, like mine, where having data to show growth for each student is important, you can file completed slips away and pull them out as needed.

Exit Slip


  1. I really like the metacognitive piece of this. I tend to ask those kind of questions when I'm giving a test or quiz, but I think I'll follow your lead and use them on exit tickets! I sometimes use "fist to five" to get a quick read on students' confidence and competence, but once you ask and they put their hands down, that information is gone -- which is okay if you're just trying to get a read on students' understanding mid-lesson, but not so much when you're trying to differentiate for the next day's lesson! And my students like to show how much they know, so giving them the choice between difficulty levels for their exit tickets gives you another piece of formative feedback. Well done!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience with exit tickets and your template! I'm glad to hear that it's proving to be worth your time and the students'. I do have a couple of questions for you.

    1. In the first box you ask if they were 100% engage, I assume the box next to know is for them to write their percentage if it was not 100? This is probably great to do at first, but from time to time you might want to ask for students who say no to write 1-2 sentences explaining why.

    2. I like your rating scale so students can indicate their level of understanding. I wish there was a way you could capture a before and after sometimes. Maybe the before could be done at the beginning of a unit instead of every lesson, and then they can give an after score at the end of the unit? The reason I suggest it is for students to think for themselves if their understanding has improved and to have a previous score to compare it to rather than just telling themselves they know more now. Does that make sense?

    3. I'm not sure how I feel about giving the students a choice between two different levels of problem to solve. I understand that it allows them to choose based on their comfort level, but does that really tell you what you want to know? For example, you said you chose one of the two problems to touch on exponents. Since exponents are part of the order of operations, wouldn't you want all students to demonstrate that they can evaluate expressions that include an exponent? Based on the student work, I would look to see who was specifically tripped up by the exponent. If I was going to give a choice of problems, I would probably give comparable problems. Since the students have an illusion of choice, they will probably be more motivated to solve the one they chose. Some students might even convince themselves that they chose the "easier" problem without knowing they are the same difficulty level.

    Thanks again for sharing this experience. I hope exit tickets continue to be a source of valuable information for you and the students.

  3. Love the idea of using exit slips to split kids the next day. I never really thought of that! Thanks! I will use it tomorrow!

  4. Exit slips are one thing that I've never used well. I need to do a better job. Thanks for sharing yours!