Every teacher struggles from time to time with the art of closing a lesson effectively. We all know the importance of wrapping up the lesson, linking it to prior knowledge, and building anticipation for the next lesson. Ideally, that daily wrap-up should include some quick from of assessment or check for understanding that you can use to inform your instruction for the next day. One quick and effective way to do just that is through the use of an exit ticket.
What Are Exit Tickets?
An exit ticket is essentially a student’s ticket out the door. Assigned at the end of the day, or end of a class period, exit tickets require students to demonstrate something they have learned, or to process some part of the day’s lesson. They are a great formative assessment tool, allowing teacher to collect data about student learning in a quick way with little pre-planning and preparation. The most basic exit tickets simply ask students a content related question to demonstrate mastery of their learning. But as you will see after reading this article, they can be used in so many different ways!
What Are The Benefits of Using Exit Tickets?
There are many benefits to using exit tickets on a regular basis in your classroom. In its simplest form, exit tickets can be just one part of your daily routine and signal to the students that the lesson is over and its time to move on to the next class (for middle school and high school students) or subject (for elementary school students). Regular routines like this keep your class running smoothly and when students know what to expect, behavior issued tend to be reduced. Using exit tickets also eliminates a frantic mad-rush at the end of class as students pack up or prepare for the next activity. It is a calming way to collect their ideas and see them off in a positive manner.
Even more importantly, exit tickets serve as a great tool to check for understanding and collect formative assessment data. The data they give the teacher can be invaluable and allow you to plan for necessary intervention or enrichment, or simply to guide your next lesson. With a completion time of less than 5 minutes, and little to no advance preparation on the teacher’s part, they are efficient as well.
Exit tickets are also a great way to incorporate authentic writing into any subject matter. Writing should never be isolated to only a language arts class, and exit tickets allow students to share their thinking through writing and the use of academic language in all disciplines.
Finally, exit tickets can be easily differentiated so that all students are engaged in the activity. For example, you can pose a content-based question, but offer a sentence stem for struggling students to guide them in formulating their response. You could ask for a specific number of facts learned, but reduce the number of facts for certain students. You could even allow different response types so that your students can choose what they are most comfortable with such as complete sentences, bullet points, or a diagram. The options are endless and can be adapted to meet the needs of all of your students.
What Types of Questions Should I Ask?
Most teachers new to exit tickets, assume the always ask, “What did you learn today?” or some variation of that question. And while content knowledge questions are certainly valid and valuable, there are other types of questions you can incorporate. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
- Level of Understanding – Ask students on a scale of 1 to 5, how knowledgeable are you now about _____________? Or give them specific ratings to choose from such as: 1 – I need lots of help, 2 – I still have some questions, 3 – I can do this task independently now, and 4 – I could teach others this new skill! This is a great way to get your students to reflect on their own learning and gives you insight as to who needs further instruction.
- Self-Analysis – Have students rate their own performance. Ask questions like, “How much effort did you put in to today’s work?” or “What do you think you most excelled at today?” You may be surprised at how honest students will be, and this often leads to them working harder the following day if they did not work to their full potential.
- Strategy Reflection – If you tried a new instructional strategy, exit tickets are a great way to get candid feedback from your students. They can even be anonymous so students will be more likely to give an honest critique. Sample questions may include, “I tried a new way of grouping you today. Tell me how that worked out for your group?” or “What did you think about the new method we used today for visualizing fractions?”
- Student Needs – This type of exit tickets gives students an opportunity to ask for the help they need, that they might otherwise be too shy to ask for in person. A questions as simple as, “What can I do to make this learning easier for you?” may yield responses such as “I would like to not be paired again with ________ because she did not stay focused.” or “It would help me if I had a copy of the notes to review the night before.” The insight you gain from your students could lead you to make small changes that yield a greater impact.
When to Use Exit Tickets
Once you have collected a class set of exit tickets, what do you do with them? How can you use the data you collect from them to guide your instruction? Here are some creative uses for exit tickets that you easily incorporate into your classroom routines.
- Student Portfolios – You can collect several exit tickets over the course of a unit or semester to add to a student’s learning portfolio. These would serve as evidence of their growth in knowledge throughout the unit.
- Class Quiz – You can create a content quiz based on questions from your students. Simply ask them to record on an exit ticket two questions they would ask a friend to determine if they learned the content or skill of the day.
- Leveled Groups – Sort the exit tickets into three groups for the following day. One group might be those who did not meet the learning objective and need further instruction. A second group might be right on target and ready to move onto the next skill. The third group could be deemed the “experts” and could even be paired up with the lower group for peer re-teaching.
- Cooperative Learning Groups / Book Clubs – You might also use exit tickets when forming cooperative learning groups for book clubs or other ongoing projects. You could have students record their top three choices for a novel to study, or who they would prefer to work with, or the type of product they would like to produce based on their group research.
Modern Versions of Exit Tickets
Oftentimes, it is easiest to use pen or pencil and paper for exit tickets. Student can easily have a ready supply of index cards or post-it notes, or you can plan ahead and have a template pre-printed for them to fill out. However, at times you may want to incorporate technology or another form of communication other than just the handwritten word. Perhaps you have some artistic students, or students who think visually, that might enjoy an occasional sketch challenge. For example, you could task them with creating a diagram or 4-frame cartoon to show what they learned today. You could even forego paper for this, and have them sketch on the whiteboard for the next class to see.
Another option for exit tickets is to incorporate technology. If your students have regular access to devices, you might consider creating a quick Google form for them to fill out at the conclusion of a lesson. Padlet is another free online resource that would work well for exit tickets. Simply create a padlet online bulletin board, send the link to your students, and they can post their responses on this digital bulletin board. A third technology option is to have your students create Flipgrid videos. Student film themselves speaking on a topic for up to 90 seconds and all of the videos are compiled into one online platform. This would certainly take more time for the teacher to review, but could be a very valuable assessment tool under the right circumstances.
Next time you find yourself rushing to wrap up a lesson, take three minutes or less and have your students submit an exit ticket telling you what they learned. By starting simply, you will see immediate benefits and will most likely begin to incorporate them on a regular basis, and even start trying some more creative tickets.
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