How to Implement Exit Tickets like a Math Teacher Pro

This is the third installment in the Everything You Ever Wanted To Know about Using Exit Tickets in your Math Classroom blogging series. If you haven’t already, check out the first two posts and then keep reading!

Read Post 1 here – 5 Reasons you Should be Using Exit Tickets in Your Middle & High School Math Class. This post covers what an exit ticket is and why you would want to use one in your math class.

Read Post 2 here How often should I use an exit ticket? A secondary math teacher explains all. This post discusses how often you should be giving an exit ticket, and ways to save time in creating them so you can actually keep up and make it routine.

In part 2 of this series, I suggested creating a set of generic questions or even exit slip templates that you can use for nearly every scenario. These questions should elicit error analysis, critical thinking, student stuck-points, and allow students to communicate to you (in writing) about math. If you didn’t get around to that quite yet, don’t worry, you can totally just steal mine!

How to Implement Exit Slips

Now that you have a set of general question types that you can ask on your exit tickets, or even templates of exit ticket questions if you’re an over-achiever, you need to figure out how to introduce them to your students.

Like anything else in your classroom, establishing routines makes things much easier and SO much more efficient. Modeling the first few times, together as a class, is also very helpful. Many students don’t know what it looks like to write or reflect about their math, so I like to teach it very explicitly via modeling. The first few weeks of school (or whenever it is you start to implement them—it’s never too late to start!), I introduce these exit slips one at a time and print them double sided.

On one side we fill it out as a class together, and then on the back side I pick a new problem for them to try on their own. For more in-depth exit slips, I might have them fill out the back side as a group before I have them try it on their own on a different day. As you use them consistently in class, your students will become rock stars at filling them out. The first few weeks may be a bit time consuming, but they get much, much quicker with a bit of practice!

How do I remember to give them every day/how do I find time?

Sometimes it can be really hard to fit everything into a lesson, and, before we know it, the period gets away on us, the bell has rung and we’re out of time. I feel ya. For me, exit slips are a priority because nothing informs my teaching better than they do. When I first became committed to using them daily in my own classroom, I set a timer on my phone for the 5-minute mark at the end of the period.  If that’s not for you, try putting a student in charge of watching the clock for the 5 minute mark (trust me, they won’t miss it). Now that I have my Apple Watch, I totally have alarms set where it just vibrates silently on my wrist. It’s definitely a bit less jarring this way and works very well! However you plan to remind yourself, plan to have your reminder go off about two minutes before when you actually need to hand out the exit ticket. This allows you time to wrap up whatever you were working on, naturally, and not end up feeling rushed. Closure, achieved. 

As you get more familiar with exit slips and the templates you’ve created, you’ll find how long each type takes. Some take only a minute or two, some you might want students to have a couple more minutes for. Another thing I hear from people is that 5 minutes is a lot to cut out of every lesson. I totally hear where you’re coming from. I was afraid of that for a long time, too. What I found was that I ended up saving more time over the course of a unit by setting aside 5 minutes for exit slips each period than I was using by backtracking after I realized I had gone several days and my students had turned misconceptions into bad habits. It’s really one of those, spend a little time now to save a lot of time (and headache) later things.

If you’d like to grab the exact set of universal exit ticket templates I use in my own math classes, you can grab them here.

You can read the fourth installment of this blogging series, “What do I do now? What to do with the exit tickets after your students hand them in. Reviewing, feedback, grading, and more!” here.

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