Stopping for Exit Tickets


During our professional learning week before school began in August, Tom Schimmer led several sessions on assessment for the K-12 faculty at the American School of Dubai. The ideas and work that he shared have been referenced many times since then by faculty and administrators. In particular, he stretched my thinking around how assessment is used for learning, and that assessment can be happening all the time because everything is assessment!

exit-tickets-stop-lightOne activity that provides assessment data is the use of exit tickets. While this is not a new idea, I did recently see a new way to implement them as both a formative assessment tool for the teacher and a reflective tool for students. A third grade teacher has posted a large image of a traffic light inside her classroom near the door. The green light has a label that says, “I can do this on my own and can explain how to do this.” The yellow light’s label says, “I can do this on my own.” The bottom label for the red light says, “I can do this if I get help or look at an example.” When students complete an exit slip prompt – for example, they may work through a final math problem on a Post-it sticky note – they place the note on the color that also reflects their level of confidence for the work. Very quickly the teacher can see who has self-reported that they are not as confident with the work, which makes for an easy way to pull together a small group for additional support.

exit-tickets-notebookThe information that the teacher uses to ascertain students’ levels of understanding doesn’t stop there. At the end of class the teacher collects the Post-it notes and places them in a binder, noting on which color each student placed his/her note. This gives the teacher additional information regarding the strategies students used to solve the problem, if they were accurate in understanding their own learning, and to look for any patterns that might inform future learning.

Genius! What a quick and effective way to assess students for learning. And with one small tweak, the exit ticket was transformed into a self-assessment for students. So now I’m thinking… we’ve used exit tickets at the end of professional development sessions with our faculty. How might the traffic signal be used to help us think more deeply?


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