Exit Tickets: Checking for Understanding


Whether it’s an app or a piece of paper, exit tickets are quick, ungraded assessments of how you’re teaching and what students need from you next.

Exit Tickets: Checking for Understanding (Transcript)

Erin: There’s been a wonderful real-time change in the way we’re able to adapt to student needs.

Marguerite: What formative assessment am I using daily, so that I can measure whether or not in that class period, kids are learning the material? A good Exit Ticket can tell whether or not a kid has a superficial understanding of the information, or has some depth of understanding. And then the next day the teacher can differentiate their lesson based on student needs. An Exit Ticket is a formative assessment linked to the objective of the lessons.

Shannon: Typically they’re short, just a few questions and they’re focused on one particular skill. And we design them ourselves. They’re just what I want to know if the students mastered that day in the classroom. It can also be used to kind of anticipate something that you might be working on for the next day’s lesson. Do they already know it, or do they know parts of it? Where can you kind of start your lesson?

Marguerite: Some teachers use Poll Anywhere. Some teachers utilize a Google form where kids can enter in their information. Then that Google form will then organize the data for the teacher into an Excel spreadsheet. And some teachers just use paper and pencil.

Shannon: First thing, what’s our number one Exit Ticket? I just want to know, key points. What are the best things that your group came up with? Your Connections, so historically, a current events connection. A connection you made to–

Shannon: I just wanted to see where each group kind of really got to in their discussion in terms of depth. It lets me see which group, if they’re not reaching that level, for example, that I should spend a lot more time talking with them and helping them to develop that, and which groups are working really well independently.

Erin: We use the digital Exit Tickets, weekly or daily depending on the unit.

Shannon: And we purposefully use one, so every ninth grade student, we have that data.

Erin: We teach the same course, and we co-plan every single day’s lesson together. And that gives us a real opportunity to discuss what our data is showing, and what do we need to change? We can use Exit Tickets to focus in on just understanding one small concept. For instance, today’s Exit Ticket asked them to identify what elements were in Persuasion, what elements were in Argument. And then we gave them examples of Pathos, Ethos and Logos. They had to identify which of those elements were the most prominent. So that gave us an idea of whether or not they could differentiate between the three.

Shannon: So let’s talk through our unit, first let’s do Persuasion first.

Erin: A lot of them understand that Logos belongs with Argument, but they’re also lumping in additional elements. And I’m definitely seeing that the entire group needs to review differences between Argument and Persuasion.

Erin: Argument has Logos only. Today, you’re going to be using Logos, Pathos and Ethos for Persuasion. And it’s important just so you know there’s a different between them.

Erin: About Persuasion, I think that’s where we’re going to be able to pull out the students that need just a little bit more reteaching.

Shannon: So clearly like the text isn’t working for them, so let’s do that same visual thing.

Erin: I think advertisements that they’re already familiar with, so that they have a place of prior knowledge and context.

Erin: Logos, Pathos or Ethos? We’re looking at this beautiful advertisement of Superman. What is the most prominent persuasive element you see here?

Shannon: Let’s have our higher level groups, since they’ve demonstrated through this Exit Ticket that they can definitely identify those three things in what they’re reading. Let’s move them up to Author’s Purpose.

Erin: People on the computers in the back, you’ll be watching a video, and writing a one-paragraph response. You’ll turn it in at the end of the class.

Marguerite: When you look around the room, you would think they’re all working on the same activity, but in actuality, it’s at different levels.

Trace: They’ll sit down with you, they’ll help you learn the material, to make sure you get the full grasp of what we’re learning in that class.

Shannon: Using data driven instruction in the classroom in the form of Exit Ticket, really allows a teacher to identify each student’s strengths and weaknesses as they’re walking into your classroom every day. There’s no one who’s falling through the cracks.


Exit Tickets: Checking for Understanding

Exit tickets are a formative assessment tool that give teachers a way to assess how well students understand the material they are learning in class. This tool can be used daily or weekly, depending on the unit being taught. A good exit ticket can tell whether students have a superficial or in-depth understanding of the material. Teachers can then use this data for adapting instruction to meet students’ needs the very next day.

How It’s Done

Teachers typically use exit tickets to assess what students have understood from the day’s lesson. Exit tickets are not a test, but a way to understand students’ comprehension of a particular topic. With this information, teachers can adjust instruction and plan how to best meet student needs by modifying and differentiating instruction. Exit tickets allow teachers to see where the gaps in knowledge are, what they need to fix, what students have mastered, and what can be enriched in the classroom.

Designing An Exit Ticket

Teachers design their own exit tickets. A good exit ticket is linked to the objective of the lesson, focusing on one particular skill or concept that students should have understood that day. Exit tickets can pose questions that are multiple choice, short answer, or even a couple of sentences in response to a question. Three to five questions make for a good exit ticket, and students should be able to complete the whole thing in just a few minutes at the end of a class period.

Exit tickets are only as good as how they are designed. It may take a little practice to get your questions precise enough for students to give you the information you need. General questions (“Do you understand?”, “Yes or no?”, etc.) don’t really give the information that will help you work with your students. Exit tickets with questions that assess understanding, apply the concept, or demonstrate the concept work best.

Technology offers an easy way to work with exit tickets, using Poll Everywhere or Google Forms. Students can easily use their tablet, smart phone, or computer to fill out exit tickets, and these apps can immediately compile the information for teachers. The first time you organize your class roster into these apps will require a bit of set-up, but once completed, you’ll have an easy recourse to manage your data. Paper and pencil are a great option, too. This requires more teacher effort to compile responses, but still gives you the benefit of knowing where you students stand in relation to the material.

Spend some time designing an exit ticket the day before you teach. Upload the form and set it up in Google Drive for students to access, or print out the copies if it’s pencil and paper.

How Often and When?

Some teachers use exit tickets daily, while others use them only once or twice a week, depending on the unit. Exit tickets are given at the end of a class period, and should only take a few minutes for students to complete. Remember to set up an exit ticket by letting students know it’s not graded and not a test or a quiz, just a reflection of what they understood that day.

Compiling Data

After students submit their exit tickets, a teacher will have to compile and “read” the data results. If you’ve used a Google form, the information can be uploaded to Google Drive to automatically create an Excel spreadsheet. If you’ve used pencil and paper, it will take a few minutes to organize and compile your data in a way that gives you an overall picture of your classroom.

Using Data to Differentiate Instruction

Exit ticket results help teachers differentiate instruction:

  • How did the group of students do overall?
  • How many kids really understand the purpose of what you’re doing in class and can move forward with it?
  • For those who can’t, how will you change your lesson plans that night so that you can meet your students’ needs the next day?

Exit tickets allow you to use your data to identify student strengths and weaknesses, and then plan for the next day’s instruction. Perhaps one group will get more direct instruction around the basic concept, while another group will work independently. Perhaps only one or two students need some additional help, and you’ll plan accordingly. The key to differentiation is that you have high expectations for all students and a clear objective. If you know what you want students to master, differentiation allows you to use different strategies to help all the students get there.

Other Uses for Exit Tickets

Exit tickets could also be used to preview what students know about topics that the class hasn’t even discussed yet. It can give a teacher some information about where to start his or her lesson on a new topic the next day.

Sometimes teachers also use entrance tickets, which are given at the beginning of a class period. You start off with two questions assessing what students know from the previous day’s lesson. And right away, you understand from these questions how you need to start today’s lesson. Entrance tickets help you answer this question: “What do I need to do differently right now in order to meet the needs of my kids?”



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