How Often Should I Use an Exit Ticket? A Secondary Math Teacher Explains All

This is the second post in the Everything You Ever Wanted To Know about Using Exit Tickets in your Math Classroom series. If you missed the first one about the 5 Reasons you Should be Using Exit Tickets in Your Middle & High School Math Class, you can catch up and read it here.

Now that you’re familiar with what an exit ticket is and why you should be using them in your math classes, let’s dig into some of the details. If you haven’t already read my first post in this series, make sure to read this first!

How often should I use an exit slip?

Ideally, you could be using an exit slip every day you aren’t testing or quizzing! Formative assessment is majorly important for keeping in touch with your students’ progress and being able to be responsive to the needs of your students. That being said, you do NOT have to choose the most elaborate exit slips every day. Sometimes, the simple stuff works the best. Some days, I don’t read every single one. I might pick a random selection of 25% of my students’ responses to get a general vibe of the room.  Other days I just don’t do an exit slip, and that’s OK too. There’s a ton of other great ways to do formative assessment if you’re in a rush (fist to five anyone?).

Real talk…I don’t do exit slips every single day. I find a balance by doing exit slips on days that new information is presented. Many topics in my classroom span two days. I like to give an exit slip after the first day so that I can figure out what I really need to clear up on the second day. It’d be more ideal to do it every day, but I’m not perfect. Give yourself some grace. Some weeks I do it a bit more than others, but the routine always remains.

Do you mean I should make a new exit ticket every single day?

Learn from me—don’t try to reinvent the wheel every time you use an exit slip. Having a mix of exit slips that elicit different skills for students is huge, but you don’t want to be creating something new every single day. Variety is great in exit slips because, not only can you check in with your students’ understanding, but you can also use the exit slips to develop a variety of other critical skills like reflection, the ability to articulate their thinking, and error analysis. That being said, as important as variety is, consistency is important as well so that students can have the chance to hone each of these skills (reflecting and critical thinking aren’t the easiest skills to develop overnight). You can read more about my early blunders later in this blogging series, but I will say upfront that doing a different exit slip every day was NOT working for me or for my students. After trial and error, I found that having a mix of about 5 types of exit slips on regular rotation in my classroom was the right balance—I  can go a week without repeating the same style every single day, but there’s also enough consistency that students know what to do when a particular exit slip is given.

Save Time by Creating Flexible Exit Ticket Templates to Elicit Exactly What you Need

Something to consider: when you’re creating exit slips, think about what ways you want to dig deep into your students’ thinking to see where they’re really at. Try to include questions that are open ended, but also include enough direction for students who can get easily overwhelmed. I also reccommend trying to make the questions flexible so that they can work with most topics. This is a bit of a balancing act, but with time you’ll learn just the right questions to ask.

After many failed attempts at trying to create a fresh exit ticket each day, I decided to design my exit slips into a set of flexible templates that were universal enough to be used with any topic, but were deadset on asking the right questions to get to the heart of student thinking and understanding, while promoting the important skills of error analysis, critical thinking, and writing about math. I made sure that my templates were either totally print and go, or where all I had to do was quickly pick a problem from a textbook (or online worksheet like Kuta) and the exit slip already had the rest of the critical thinking elements built-in. Sure, this took some time up front, but it was SO much more efficient than trying to think up a quality exit ticket each day. (And, frankly, that just didn’t happen because it was not sustainable.)

I would strongly suggest creating a set of universal exit ticket templates that you can use with just about any topic. Again, think about what you would need to ask students to see their thinking, understanding, and find their painpoints while also helping them develop their mathematical thinking and communication skills. Yes, it’s a bit of a time investment up front, but this saves a TON of time over the course of a year and makes it really easy from day to day to actually implement exit tickets with regularity.

Spend time and put in the work upfront to develop your various exit slips…once that’s done, it’ll take next to no time when it comes time to picking one to use every day. Plus, having set templates saves you MAJOR time when it comes to reviewing them when your students turn them in (more on that later). Also, don’t feel like every single exit slip has to be Blooms Taxonomy Level 5…it’s okay to just ask how they felt about the lesson or to have them rank their comfort with the new material. It’s simple, but informative. Not everything needs to be super complex. Even the simple exit slips get students reflecting about their understanding, and allows you to learn about where they’re at.

If you’d like to save time creating your own exit ticket questions and templates, check out mine. These are the flexible, universal exit ticket templates I’ve designed, used, and tweaked over the years and are perfect for any secondary math class! Get them here.

You can read the third installment of this blogging series, “How to Implement Exit Tickets like a Math Teacher Pro,” here.

5 thoughts on “How Often Should I Use an Exit Ticket? A Secondary Math Teacher Explains All

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