Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Next Generation of Exit Slip

I've been trying to think my way through "exit slips," and how I'd like to use them for the upcoming year.

I like the idea of entrance and exit slips (or tickets, as they're sometimes called) - they're quick (for both the student to complete and for the teacher to assess), and they provide a great at-a-glance check for whether or not the student understands the material, again for both the teacher and the student.

They're also part of a solid strategy to reinforce the learning goals of the course (I wrote more on how I design my learning goals and exit slips in a post on Using Learning Goals to Focus BYOD).

In a traditional class, students do the entrance slip on the way into class (or to start the class), while exit slips are done at the end of class. Last year, though, in my BYOD, independent learning classes, I couldn't stick to a before-class, end-of-class schedule, since everyone was always at a different place in the unit (which brought its own set of challenges). We did away with entrance slips, and approached exit slips in a different way.

Throughout the unit, students were expected to learn the material for a given learning goal (in whatever way they liked), and then would test themselves on the "exit slip" to show both me and themselves that they knew the material before moving on. If they got it, great! If not, feedback was prompt and they would go back and practice more before trying again.

Getting ready to hand back exit slips at the end of a unit.
Yes, that's a LOT of paper to keep track of -
something I'd like to change this year.

I'd like to do the same thing this year, but with possibly a couple of changes.

What to call it?
I've struggled with what to call these exit slips, since they're not really used to "exit" the class. Check-ins? (I envision having the check-ins with little cartoon chickens on them hehe) Checkpoints? Learning Goal Checks (or, LGCs for short)? Progress checks? Stoplights?

In the larger of my two BYOD classes last year, there were days when the sheer amount of paper slips was overwhelming. I would love to reduce the amount of paper clutter from these slips but am not sure of the best way. Socrative? Google form? Quiz tool within our vLE? 

I like the idea of the latter, especially if it can self-mark AND I can actually randomize the question the student gets. Last year I had an issue of students helping each other with the exit slips. While I have no problem with students helping each other learn, I would like the exit slips to be more indicative of what each student is capable of.

Learning goals, then project? Or project with learning goals embedded?
This year, I had the students go through the learning goals/exit slips in a linear fashion, and then attack a larger unit project at the end of the unit. Might it be better for me to assign the project first, and then they can complete the learning goals and exit slips as they complete the project?

The journey continues...


  1. Heather, you've got some really interesting thinking here. I love the idea of using less paper for these exit slips. I was initially thinking of a GoogleDocs option, as then you can have different types of questions for the students to do. I think there's value in some short answer questions in addition to maybe a multiple choice or true and false (depending on the content). I don't know enough about the other program that you mentioned. Can you use different types of questions with this program?

    As I'm writing this comment back to you, I can't help but ask, why do you need an exit slip? If you're going with more of a PBL or inquiry approach, then you're likely sitting down, conferencing, and working with students all the time. Are these exit slips giving you different information than what you already have? If the point of inquiry is to also focus on the "process" instead of just the final "product," then isn't everything that the students do almost like an exit slip? As I think more about it, I'm wondering how much we really need an exit slip. What do you think?


    1. Hi Aviva,
      I do find the exit slips useful in math, because a lot of students will *say* they know how to do something, and can even walk through the steps verbally (with, say, me writing things down as they go), but they stumble when it comes to actually doing it themselves. I've even seen students walk others through the process, and yet not quite be able to do it themselves. I don't think it will work the same way in science class (still trying to wrap my head around those...), but for a skill-based task set, I think they are still necessary...

    2. Thanks for the reply, Heather! Could you see this throughout the process though? What if they showed you their work while meeting with you? I just wonder if we need an extra exit slip.


    3. That's a really good question... I think for me it comes down to a matter of time management in class. I would love to be able to check in with each and every student for a few minutes each class to see how they are working through things, but I don't often get the chance to do that with everyone (between mini-lectures to small groups, working with students on time management issues, helping students get started with hands-on/inquiry projects, the usual class management hiccoughs, etc.). The slip is sure to be seen by me (or my peer teacher if I'm lucky enough to have one), and not get lost in the shuffle. There are some students, too, who master things quickly - with little to no practice - and who like being able to bang through a couple of slips a day.

      I'll give it more consideration, though. In time, I would love the assessment to be more conversation-based than product-based. Thanks for the food for thought!!

  2. This post is very reflective. You challenged me as a reader as well. I like exit slips as well and totally agree with you that the paper overload can be a bit much. I think exit slip are a great at a glance view of what is going on with the students. I had never even thought of hang the exit slips self mark! Great idea! My first instant when reading that was google forums as well. I am looking forward to reading how it works out.

    I think that the exit slip is another way for the students to communicate with us as the teacher. It can be a document of their learning process. Aviva I think with conferencing that exit slips can be a great reflective tool for the students as well. They can look back at the one from last week and see how far they have come. It is a great metacognitive tool!
    Do you keep them for the students to look at afterwards?

    1. Thank you for your comment! I don't mind marking the exit slips myself, but it's something the students have to wait for. If they could submit the slip and then instantly know if they got it correct or had to review, it would save them time and frustration in class (my grade 9 math class will have 32 students in it this semester... they'll keep me on my toes!!).

      I verbally check in with each student to give them feedback on their exit slips when they hand them in, but then I keep them (partially to avoid others cheating) until the end of the unit. I give them all back before the unit test so that they can review the learning goals and how to accomplish them. Of course, if they want to see them at any time during the unit, they are most welcome to!

  3. Hi Heather,

    Have you heard of the "My Favourite No" strategy? It could be really effective for your needs. Tiiu, my teaching partner, shared it with me last year. It's fairly simple. Have all the students quickly answer a question on a cue card and hand their answers in. Read through them and sort them into piles - correct and incorrect answers. Then, sort through the incorrect answers and find one that was done in an interesting way. It becomes your "Favourite No". Take up the process that student used to answer the question and why it didn't work out for them. Powerful teaching. Of course, you don't use student names. This also reinforces why it is totally fine to be wrong. As long as students are trying and showing their work, you can help them out.

    Here's a video in case my explanation wasn't helpful:

    1. Hi Shauna - I HAVE heard of it! We watched the video as part of our board-initiated Learning Cycle sessions. I love the idea, and of how by rewriting the solution you eliminate any effort to "be funny" or grab attention while keeping it personal to the person who wrote it, but my issue is that all my students are in a different spot in the unit. I wonder if I could do it on a smaller scale, when I'm working one-on-five or so with groups of students? Thank you for reminding me about this great strategy!

  4. Socrative might be an alternative to try. I would like to use it with my ELA/SS students this year. It would be great if you wrote a follow-up post to this one about what changes you make.

    1. I LOVE Socrative! I'm a big fan of how you can get the results in a spreadsheet format emailed to you (soooo slick!). Last I checked, though, you could only run one Socrative quiz at a time. Since my students are all over the place, I would have to start and stop a variety of quizzes whenever various students needed them. That's why I was leaning toward Google Forms.... but I'm still not convinced, since not all students have access to technology. For now, it's more or less the status quo. I'm hoping to get more computer access in the next little while, though, so it might all change within the month. I'll be sure to post updates!


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