This year my school leader has had a mantra, “You can’t correct what you can’t detect.” This rings particularly true for today’s topic: exit tickets. In my first year of teaching, I gave a quiz after about a week of instruction. I began to grade and was shocked at what I was seeing. How could my students being doing so badly? It was then that I realized that I had no idea how my students had been progressing each day.
why you should use exit tickets
What is an Exit Ticket?
An exit ticket is a 2-5 question formative assessment that allows students to demonstrate the skill they learned that day. It is usually given at the end of the class period as a ticket out of the door.
1. For Reteaching
In my example seen above, students were not ready for a quiz, and I had no idea for a week. If a majority of my students are not successful on a skill, then the problem lies with me. They serve as a check-in for how students grasped the content I taught that day. After I teach a lesson, I look through the class’s exit tickets and decide if I need to reteach the skill in a different way the next day or the day after.
I usually decide based on a couple of factors: did students master the concept but maybe not the computation? If the answer is yes, then I don’t reteach. An example of this might be for division with decimals — students were able to show how to move the decimal in the dividend and the divisor. The decimal is in the correct spot in the quotient, but they incorrectly divided.
What percentage of students did master the exit ticket? That really depends on your students. Think about your students, where they typically score, any goals your campus has, and any personal goals you have for your class.
2. For a Quick Hit
Sometimes exit tickets that do not demonstrate mastery don’t actually necessitate reteaching the entire lesson. It might mean that I have one quick key point to clarify before moving on. The best part is that I don’t have to wait until the end of the day to fix my delivery.
They show me where students have misconceptions or where I was unclear before I teach my next class period.
It gives me an action step: I need to model one more example before students move to group or independent work time. Furthermore, if my first period class’s students all made the same type of error that I am able to address in my other classes, then I can use one of their exit tickets as an error analysis the next day to address the misconception with them.
3. Challenge Students to Synthesize What They Learned
Exit tickets hold students accountable to produce work by the end of the class period that they know you will collect and look at. It sends the message that what students learned that day is important; they need to pay attention for the entirety of the class so they can synthesize what they have learned. When students are dismissing, I will be flipping through their exit tickets and stopping students at the door if I need to clarify something with them.
In addition, it allows students to communicate with you about their needs. This idea comes from Erica Stewart, who has students evaluate their understanding at the bottom. Students simply circle their understanding.
Should I Grade Exit Tickets?
I do not grade exit tickets if it is the first day that I have taught a skill. Occasionally, I do take a grade on subsequent days where students are not learning new material but are practicing material that has already been taught. Exit tickets are not a primary source of grades, but I do use the data they give me to drive instruction.
Exit tickets can be really impactful if you are looking at them and making decisions based on what you are seeing students do. Start small if you aren’t currently implementing them. Try an exit ticket once a week on one skill, or you could use your independent practice as an exit ticket. Do you use exit tickets in your classroom?