Sunday, November 11, 2012

EXIT SLIPS: Highly Effective Formative Assessment Tool For ALL Content Areas

Common core will enable teachers to deliver far more powerful, and therefore more effective, lessons than in the past.  This radical change in instruction which will reach a much greater student audience including the rapidly growing English language learner population. 

With this new approach to approaching learning (more emphasis on informational text with practical applications to the real world), teachers will need to monitor student grasp of key concepts every few minutes.  This checking-for-understanding (cfu) must go beyond simply asking a few questions on what a teacher just lectured about to those few students who have their hands up to answer questions.  To engage all students (and hold them accountable for learning), teachers must have a variety of tools to use throughout a lesson to make sure that students who don't understand the point of the lesson can be quickly identified and supported.  This is how a teacher can be sure that at least 80% of the students are fully prepared to go on to more complex work, start individual assignments, attempt the homework assignment, etc.  For that 20% who are lost, the teacher can pull them aside to offer a mini-lesson (typically such lessons only last for a few minutes where problems are quickly sorted out and addressed in a format that is more easily understood).

Though there are many techniques to check for student understanding, one popular one is EXIT SLIPS.  It can take several forms from half-slips to index cards (and more).  What ever tool is used, it should not be overwhelming in size (no 8 X11 sheet of paper for example).  English language learners are especially intimidated by paper that size.  An index card is less scary and more effective since students want to fill up the card with everything that they can recall whereas an 8 X11 leads to writer's block.  The link in this blog does offer some PDF with various types of exit slips.  They should serve as models.  They are here just to provide some examples of what is out there.

Typically, this type of assessment takes only about 5 minutes of class time.  Students can turn them in as they leave the room (hence "exit slip") or just before the teacher enters closure (a last check before students move on to assignments based on the class lesson or before they start homework).  If the teacher gives this assessment as an EXIT TICKET, s/he would review the results before the start of the next class and then open up the class with either a review of the areas the students didn't understand or some praise on the results and move into the next lesson.  Again, this is only one tool of many a teacher should weave into classroom instruction.



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