Tuesday, September 20, 2011

the power of the exit slip

Every day in a classroom is a learning opportunity. Not just for our students, but for us as teachers too. Our students know better than anyone how things are going in our classes, what is confusing, what they are excited about, what is working and what is not. We ALL have plenty to learn about planning, instruction, assessment, and students, no matter our experience.

Something I'm pretty sure you all experienced as students in your teacher prep programs, and perhaps all through your schooling, are those quick check-ins at the end of class: the exit slip. Exit slips provide an opportunity for students to write anonymously about their experiences in your classroom. Prompts can refer to questions about content students have after class, the "muddiest point" of a discussion, concerns about group interactions, pacing, anything really. For example, if you ask students to write down the most important point from social studies today and you are faced with blank stares or off-the-wall suggestions, you can use that information to regroup the next day.

Exit slips take little to no time to prepare (I often go into a class with a planned question for an exit slip, but sometimes I decide on the spot that I need to gauge where the group is). I used them with 4th graders and I use them with college students. As long as children can do some writing or drawing, they can participate in exit slips. They are easy to forget about planning into your instruction, especially since there are so many other things to think about as you start teaching! But regular exit slips can really help students see the communication lines are open, that you are interested in their feedback, and that you care about them enough to modify your plans to best meet their needs.

This informal form of ongoing assessment can really help new teachers learn about the needs of their students. Give it a shot, and let us know how it goes!


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  2. I really like using exit slips. However, I have found myself using "entrance slips" more often. Each morning, I will prepare a short half slip that I ask the students to complete. These half slips are based on a skill we worked on the previous day (either in Math or Reading). Since we have Math at the end of the day, it's hard to assess them. They are sooo ready to go home! So, I find it's better to do this in the morning. This way, they have had a chance to practice the skill on their homework, and are able to come in and complete the assessment. I can then go over their slips of paper and decide if we need more practice with the skill, or if they are ready to move on. I can then incorporate more or less review into that day’s lesson. This strategy has worked well with the class I have. However, I would be eager to use exit slips in my middle school placement. With more time between classes, I want to make sure I am connecting with each student to ensure they are understanding the material before I plan the next lesson.

  3. Thank you for the reminder about exit slips! This is an easy, yet very effective tool I could start incorporating into my daily lesson plans. I think it would be especially effective for math. I'm currently teaching 3rd grade math to 2nd grade math students who have tested out of the 2nd grade curriculum. It's a little tricky because there is still a span of abilities and background knowledge within this class. I'm oftentimes unsure about the pacing of my lessons with these students and how much direct instruction is necessary. If I I used a entrance and /or exit slip each day, I could better gage what I need to spend time on and where I need to challenge this group. Perhaps I could still do a small group guided lesson for some that need more instruction and let the other students work on their math independently or in pairs.

    I think exit slips would also provide me with good feedback for me as a student teacher. I would ask my students for feedback on my teaching and have them tell me one thing they like and one thing that I need to improve. upon. Finally, exit slips would be a good way to communicate privately with students that are unwilling to raise their hand when they are confused or students that may want to share a more personal/social concern.

    I'm going to start with math tomorrow!

  4. @Natalie Admit slips are another great tool, you're right Natalie! It's a great way to quickly assess how much students remember from the previous day's lesson, or whether they completed the homework, or where the misconceptions are about the concepts being addressed. I've been starting most of my classes this year with one to get us thinking about the topics of the day. Good suggestion!

  5. @Heather Pins Glad it was a good reminder, Heather! I hope it goes well in your math class!