Exit Tickets: New Spins on a Tried and True Method

Did they get what I just taught them?  It’s a question educators are continually asking themselves.  Exit Tickets are a powerful interactive student response system intended to give the teacher at any grade level a quick “snapshot” of what students have learned, what they are still questioning, or even what prior knowledge they might be entering a lesson with.  Many educators are already using Exit Tickets, but after scouring the web I have compiled a list of new spins on this tried and true method that I hope will be useful.  

Use Exit Tickets to… activate prior knowledge.         At the end of the day or class period, suggest a concept or topic word to students that you plan to cover in the next day’s class. Ask students to jot down on an Exit Ticket any words or ideas that come to mind relating to the presented topic. After class, quickly record students’ ideas on a poster-sized concept map. Reviewing student ideas in this way will provide a plan on how to proceed the next day.  In addition, students will see that their thinking has been incorporated into the lesson which will encourage student ownership and enthusiasm.  Both good things!

Use Exit Tickets to… form groups.  Before an upcoming group project, ask students to use the Exit Tickets to share topics of interest or to answer a content related question.  With Exit Tickets in hand, you can quickly organize students into groups either by interest, by ability, or both, making sure each group has a strong mix of experts and novices. You will also be able to ensure that students are working in the company of students with interests similar to their own.  I see a productive group in your near future!  

Use Exit Tickets to… focus conversation during independent conference time.  After a reading mini-lesson, ask students to connect the core idea of the lesson with what they are currently reading. Once the Exit Tickets have been collected you can quickly identify two things: which students are in most need of an immediate one-on-one conference and a direction for individual conference discussion with each student.    

Use Exit Tickets to… survey student opinions.  What do students think about a main character’s reaction to something in the text?  Or how do they feel about the staff’s decision to ban microwaves from the lunchroom?  You or your students can tally up student responses and create percentages and fractions with the data.  This will provide students the opportunity to use math in an authentic way while acknowledging every student’s voice in the classroom.

Use Exit Tickets to… generate ideas.   Ask students to free-write about a given topic on their Exit Tickets for the last several minutes of class.  The next day use what ideas they have generated as the beginning of a writing piece you have planned.  Asking students to freely write, for instance, about what they thought about the results of a science experiment is much less intimidating than requiring them to write a final conclusion of that same science experiment.  The sense of urgency at the end of class accompanied with the low-stakes of an Exit Ticket make it easy for student thinking to flow. The next day, return their Exit Tickets and notify them that they already have their very first rough draft of their science experiment conclusion. Oh happy day!

Use Exit Tickets to… help students self-evaluate.  Using a scale of your making, ask students to rate how well they understood the material that day or ask students to rate how hard they worked.  You could also ask students to think about what they could have done during the class period to help themselves learn better.  Use what you glean from these Exit Tickets to devise mini-lessons on learning strategies that you think would be beneficial to your students.  Teaching student self-awareness is a great way to help students become more responsible for their learning.  

Use Exit Tickets to… provide an avenue of communication for your students to let you know what you’re doing that is working for them and what you’re doing that isn’t.  You could specifically ask a question like: “How did the note taking today help you understand the content?” Or consider asking more open-ended questions like: “What is something I could be doing to enhance your understanding?”  While you may hear something that is difficult to acknowledge, asking these questions gives you some very important feedback and sends a very important message to students.  All of us are learners in the classroom.  Even the teacher!   

Use Exit Tickets as Entrance Tickets!  Who says Exit Tickets can’t be Entrance Tickets?  Using this system at the beginning of a class or class period has the potential to captivate student interest and at the same time provide information on the students’ level of understanding going into a lesson or activity allowing for customization of instruction.  An example: Just last week I knew we would be solving a math problem about the distance between earth and the International Space Station.  Upon entering the classroom, I asked the students to make an educated guess about this distance. The students were instantly engaged and anxious to do the problem in order to find out how close their estimate was.  In addition, this information was useful to me. I quickly had background information to guide me in delivery of the lesson.  

Exit Tickets Park It Poster Blog PhotoSome final thoughts…

One of the appealing benefits of the use of Exit Tickets is that the participation of every student is much more likely.  When we call on raised hands or even pull a popsicle stick out of a jar we are still only involving a very small part of the class.  

Wondering how to collect those Exit Tickets?  In my classroom, we use something called the “Park It” PosterEach student has a place to “park” their thinking. I love it because I can quickly glance at the “Park It” Poster and know immediately who has participated or not.

I also use the “Park It” Poster as a middle of the class check. Before I send students off for independent practice I might ask them to respond to a related question. After quickly reviewing the “Park It” Poster I know who I need to see right away for individual work and who might be a great go to expert if a student needs help and I am helping someone else.

We were inspired by Rebecca Alber from Edutopia when writing this post. Check out her post on Exit Tickets.  

Happy Parking!  

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