A few weeks ago, I wrote about how my students were required to “correct and reflect” on their major assessments. That is, to correct their mistakes and reflect on why it was an error. Our efforts to improve math instruction continue with the use of a classic technique – the exit slip.
Recently I spoke with two classes of college students, all of whom were majoring in education. I was invited to talk about using the techniques associated with Whole Brain Teaching. One frequently asked question was, “Does it work?” My answer for WBT, and really any research-based strategy, is always the same – it works if you use it correctly. Instructional strategies are 20% knowledge and 80% behavior. Knowing about the strategy and the reason for using it accounts for only 20% of the process. The majority of a strategy’s effectiveness comes down to actually putting it into practice.
In my never-ending quest for instructional perfection, I decided to add yet another strategy to my proverbial teacher’s toolbox – the exit slip. I chose this strategy for its simplicity (it’s only as complicated as you make it), and the data I was hoping to collect from students’ responses. I usually had relegated exit slips to middle and high school students but thought it couldn’t hurt to try it with my 4th graders.
An Example in Math
I focused on a process-oriented concept in math – multiplying whole numbers and fractions. We had learned a 3-step process for the operation. Using Teach-Okay, gestures, and guided practice, we learned and applied the steps to solving these types of problems. Students were asked this question: “How do you multiply a whole number and a fraction?” You can see some of their answers in the photos above. It was easy enough for me to read their responses right there in class quickly. To proceed to the independent practice problems, I read and approved their responses.
Resources and Suggestions
Here are some websites that offer more information about exit slips:
I would recommend using exit slips for other subjects and lessons. Keep in mind that the answers should be brief – students with writing disabilities and/or language impairments were the slowest to complete their exit slips. Accommodations for them might need to be made in the future, but I hesitated with this first exit slip. I wanted to see what they were capable of writing and if they understood the concept with little to no additional support. With a little bit of planning, any teacher could easily use exit slips in their classroom. Exit slips are a quick and straightforward way to collect data on your students’ understanding without all the hassle of a traditional formative assessment.