Last week I shared a very important teaching strategy I use at the beginning of class: advance organizers. Today I’d like to share a teachings strategy that I use very often at the end of class: exit cards.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to check a student’s progress toward a learning objective is to conduct a quick formative assessment. Formative assessments are check-points in a lesson that are used to shape additional instruction by providing feedback to the students and new strategies to help them learn the parts where they show weakness.
My favorite formative assessment is the exit card.
An exit card is sometimes referred to as an “exit ticket.” The teacher poses a question or a short writing prompt and the students write their answers on a note card or a slip of paper. The idea is that they are not allowed to exit the room until they hand the teacher their exit card/exit ticket.
Why I Love the Exit Card Teaching Strategy
1. It is easy to assign an exit card without any preparation.
When I’m unable to completely get through a lesson, I still end the class with a quick assessment of progress toward the learning objective. I make sure the students have about 5 minutes to spend on the assignment (though I occasionally give them a set amount of time for things like 1-minute papers).
2. I can do a quick check before the next lesson.
When I taught in a high school, I would scan through the exit cards to see what students were misunderstanding. Then I would adjust my teaching strategies for the next class period if I was repeating the same lesson for them. Also, exit cards do not take much time to check so you should be able to dedicate a greater amount of time to grading bigger assignments.
3. I can write short feedback on the card before returning it.
A critical element of all formative assessments is the feedback. When students make mistakes, I write comments or page numbers for them to correct their answers. Occasionally, I would have them turn the cards in with the correct answer.
4. It is fun.
You can really have some fun with this and create slips of paper that resemble actual tickets. This gets the point across that the students’ “ticket” out of the room is completing the assignment.
How to Teach with Exit Cards
In this video I share three things you can do with exit cards to assess for understanding:
Of course, the closely related sibling of the exit card is the “entrance card.” The entrance card is a great example of an effective bell work activity. The concept is the same. In order to enter the class, students must complete the entrance card. If you collect them at the end of the bell work time, you might have the opportunity to check them later during the class. You could also have the students raise their hands and have you check their answers. Make them rewrite their responses until they have what you are looking for.
(photo credit: davegray)