This is the fourth 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 three 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.
Read Post 3 here – How to Implement Exit Tickets like a Math Teacher Pro. This post discusses how to introduce them to your students and tips for actually remembering to give them each day!
How do I review the exit slips? (I mean, there’s a lot of them…how can I do it daily and not take forever?)
Depending on the day, I handle exit slip turn-ins differently. Usually, I have them turn them in to me directly into my hand as they finish so I can review them immediately and catch any half-hearted attempts. I’m usually done reviewing the whole class’ exit slips before the next class has started. Some days are hectic and that just isn’t going to happen. On those days, I LOVE using my stoplight baskets. I have a set of three baskets hanging on my wall (you could just have them sitting on a counter or a bookshelf, etc). One of the baskets is green, another is yellow, and the last is red. I ask students to submit their exit slip to the basket that most represents their level of understanding/comfort for the lesson. This is a really good visual check for me (being 100% honest, some days scanning the spread of the basket submissions is all I do). If I see most of them are green, we’re probably good. If most of them are yellow or red, I’ll start reading and figure out what’s going on.
Echoing my earlier advice (from my second post), I strongly repeat and encourage my suggestion for creating exit slip templates, because they make the review process for you SO much quicker. You know exactly where to look for what, and there’s no scavenging around the page to find where you students wrote their answer. For the more in-depth exit slips I use, I have it very structured so that each one, more or less, looks the same. After looking at a few exit slips, you really get a sense of what you’re looking for and can process through them QUICK. Plus, you don’t waste any time searching for the various parts of their thought process. In more open-ended exit slips that aren’t so structured, I give the instruction to draw a large arrow pointing to or a star next to the point where they get stuck (if that happened) and label it in large capitals “POC” (point of confusion). Again, this makes it so easy for me to see, at a glance, what my students are getting stuck on.
Should I grade exit tickets? How do I get students to actually buy in and do it?
I think this is personal preference, to an extent. I strongly do not believe you should grade exit slips for accuracy on a regular basis (if at all). These are given right after new content has been introduced and I feel like that creates too much pressure and just isn’t fair. Exit tickets should be used to allow students closure with the material and a chance to communicate with you, their teacher, about where they’re at and what they still need help with. Attaching an accuracy grade to this seems to shift the focus of the real purpose of why exit slips are given. That said, I don’t see as large of an issue with a participation score being attached if that’s what floats your boat (way too much effort for me, but you do you!). One year I thought it was a great idea to roll a dice every time we had an exit slip and if it was a 6 it went in the grade book as a small quiz…lots of work, no additional benefit.
What I do now is give an exit slip grade for each unit. Students get a score out of 4 points for the duration of the unit. 4 points if they put in a good effort on >90% of the exit slips for the unit (yes, I eyeball it), 3 points if they put in a good effort for more than 3/4 of the exit slips, etc. I don’t think this is necessary in the least (I mean, it’s not attached to any standards at all so I know some people will take issue with it), but I like to be very transparent with parents about what their students are doing in my class on a regular basis and write notes in the gradebook to parents if their student isn’t getting 3s or 4s. Making the grade out of 4 points does little to nothing to affect their grade, but it’s a great CYA strategy and parents have responded really well to it because it’s another data point that provides another way to communicate home what’s going on in the classroom. I also wish I could say that all students are internally motivated, but we all know how that really goes. I find that points (even if it’s just 4 over a 2-3 week span), helps to motivate and hold students accountable for putting their best effort in.
[HEADS UP, I SAY A NAUGHTY WORD IN THIS PARAGRAPH]
Also, I will say that I’m a stickler for students putting in the work. I also am a fan of them turning in exit slips directly to my hand when they finish so I can quickly take a look. If they try to turn in something that’s…erm, half-assed…I tell them to go back and work on it longer. I also circulate the room a LOT during exit slips and ask leading questions if I need to. I very much create a culture of no-opt out, and after getting sent back to rework on it enough times, students get it. It’s easier to just do it in the first place than to have to physically stand up, walk all of the way over to me, and then have me send them back to work on it more, then repeat (golly gee, being a high schooler can be hard sometimes. I mean, having to walk?! The horror!).
One year I was having a particularly hard time getting exit slips to sell (I didn’t start it from the beginning of the year so it was NOT an established routine), so for a while, I did exit slip raffles. I had an old shoe box that I cut a little hole into the top to make it like a ballot box. Each week I did a small raffle where they got to pick a piece of candy or I gave the occasional free time pass for after they’re done with the work for the day (normally, when students are 100% finished with everything for my class, I make them do an extension activity or they have to work on something for another class. Just getting to chill for 5 minutes doesn’t happen all that often). I kept this up for a while, but started to extend the length between raffles until they pretty much forgot about them.
What do students if they’re done early with their exit ticket?
After students have turned their exit slips in (either to the stoplight baskets or to my hand), students have options, and I repeat them, like, LITERALLY every day. Most of the time I have a bit of practice time built into class after the lesson where students are working on their homework assignment together in small groups. At the 5-ish minute mark, I call them back to their own seats do their exit slip. Because I have created a template, all I have to do is project the problem I want them to solve/respond to on the board and they’re set to go. When they’re done, they either (1) resume working on that practice assignment or an old one that they’ve yet to finish, (2) glue pages into their interactive notebook or their class folder/binder, or (3) organize their backpack (what a black hole). I make it a huge point, though, that I don’t care if there’s 2 minutes left of class or 30 seconds… you’re doing something quietly and productively. We also talk a lot about giving the students who are still working the same respect the finished students were given by remaining quiet so they can think about what they’re writing and wanting to communicate without distractions. If someone’s being loud, I’ll have a quiet, 1-on-1 chat about how that’s rude to their classmates. I mean business. Setting the tone early helps this become a classroom norm routine.
Do I return the exit tickets to my students?
Most of the time, I don’t return the exit slips to my students. I might be in the minority on this, but I think that’s just too much work. The time it would take to pass them back is just too high. Instead, what I usually do is use the global information I get from quickly scanning through the exit slips (the class wide trends), to help me determine which areas I need to emphasize during our warmup the next day or as we continue onto our next lesson. I find that I can clear many of the misconceptions up easily by just shifting the focus a bit more to those areas the next day (math builds on itself so much, so there’s natural opportunities daily). I also know which students I might want to check in with and have a 30 second chat during the warmup time. To me, this is much more valuable. That said, find your own why behind using exit slips in your classroom. I use them to inform instruction and know what my students are thinking. If I were to meaningfully respond to each one (with 180+ students),I would spend hours each day and that’s just not realistic. I think my time is better spent.
That said, I do sometimes return exit slips. It can depend on which exit slips I use. Sometimes I only return them to particular students if I had a particular piece of feedback to give. For me, my purpose is largely informing my instruction and learning where each student is at, and not providing feedback to students daily in written form. I find ways to do that in class, verbally. That said, to each their own. I don’t have time to write meaningful feedback on the regular, but it only takes a few minutes to scan through a class of exit slips to get a very full picture of where your students are at. The time cost/payoff isn’t there for me, but every teacher is different. Experiment and do what works for you!
If you would like to use the exact exit ticket templates that I use in my own classroom, you can get my universal set of 5 exit ticket templates for middle and high school math classes here.
You can read the fifth installment of this blogging series, “Implementing Exit Tickets in Middle & High School Math – Why I failed Before & How I Fixed It,” here.