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Today’s blog post provides a step-by-step breakdown and guide to “What are Exit Tickets and How to Use them? (Tips).”

As teachers, we often wonder how we can guarantee at the end of each lesson that our students are absorbing and learning what they need to succeed in life. Three of the most common knowledge- and skills-acquisition checks and class assessments are group Q&A at the end of a lesson, brief lesson reviews before discussing new material, and weekly and pop quizzes. Another check that has gained popularity in recent years is the “exit ticket.”

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Exit ticket reviews

Exit tickets, also known as exit slips, are usually small pieces of paper that students must fill out before they can leave the classroom or start the next lesson. Students must outline briefly the ideas presented in a lesson and their impressions. The format combines quizzes and follow-up reviews. Although teachers can accept the tickets without an immediate discussion follow-up, some teachers organize a group review of the lesson in the final minutes of class and use the tickets to guide the discussion. On an exit ticket, a teacher usually provides their students with one or more questions and prompting statements. Teachers give their students approximately one-to-five minutes to write out their answers depending on the length of the lesson and the amount of time available on any particular day.

These tickets primarily reinforce the information and concepts that the students learned during the lesson and help a teacher learn if students can use what they learned in academic and life settings. The questions/prompts are also designed to challenge student perceptions and help them learn to comprehensively combine ideas. Additionally, teachers use the questions/prompts to make students wonder about a topic more and prepare them for the next or an upcoming lesson. Exit tickets also emotionally and mentally prepare students throughout the day to “transition” to new lessons and topics in the same or different classroom.

Since this type of exit review offers students a chance to speak directly with a teacher about their in-class experiences, teachers can also use these tickets to gain insight into their teaching style. Feedback about a lesson and topics outside of the scope of the lesson can help a teacher improve their future lessons and respond better to their students’ needs. For example, a student might mention on an exit ticket how much they enjoyed or disliked a lesson and their reason.

Some teachers also use written exit reviews to give students the opportunity to open up discussions about one or more personal matters that they wouldn’t bring up in front of their peers or have difficulty broaching face-to-face with an adult. For example, a teacher might discover on a ticket a student’s request for help with preparing for an academic-related life event, such as an extracurricular match or coping with fear about college. A student might ask for help with dealing with a non-academic subject that troubles them, such as on-campus bullying or at-home stresses.

Exit review template

The outline of an exit ticket varies by teacher’s personal preference and topic. Typically, teachers try to keep the length and number of questions/prompts short so that students have enough time to provide well-thought-out answers. This type of format also helps students remain calm and emphasizes that the ticket isn’t a test. Although structure and wording differ by the teacher, exit slips usually contain some combination of words and phrases similar to the following:

Questions

  • What is [insert topic-related vocabulary word]?
  • What is the answer to or how would you solve [insert problem statement]?
  • How might you use what you learned today in your own life?
  • How might [insert profession] use this information in their job?
  • What was the main purpose of today’s lesson?
  • Was the previous night’s required reading helpful to you?
  • Did today’s activity help you to better understand the lesson?
  • Do you prefer small or large groups for activities?
  • Do you prefer written or verbal lesson reviews? Why?
  • Do you feel that we achieved the lesson goals that I outlined at the start of class?
  • Do you think that everyone participated equally in class today? If not, how might we improve participation?
  • What three questions do you have about today’s topic?
  • What one thing did you learn from today’s lesson?
  • What do you believe was the purpose of today’s activity?
  • Are there any other related or unrelated topics that you wish I had covered in a class?
  • Is there anything else you would like to discuss with me?

Prompts

  • Please define the following vocabulary word from today’s lesson.
  • Please solve the following problem.
  • Please explain how you would use today’s lesson in your own life.
  • Describe one thing that you learned today from the lesson.
  • Tell me the main purpose of the lesson.
  • Describe what you liked most and least about the previous night’s reading.
  • I didn’t understand the following about today’s lesson…
  • The thing that surprised me about today’s topic was…
  • I would like to learn more about…
  • I prefer the following type of group activities…
  • I have the following additional questions [related/unrelated to the topic]…
  • I wish we could…
  • I wanted to discuss with you…

Exit review guidance

Certain students, such as young, disabled, second language, and marginalized ones, often need personalized exit tickets. For example, a teacher might need to give a disabled student a ticket worded differently than the ones handed out to the rest of the class to clarify the meaning. Of course, written exit slips might not work at all and a teacher might need to utilize a verbal exit-review format.

Unlike group Q&A sessions, a teacher might ask students to leave their desks one at a time by row as each student answers a question successfully. The teacher takes notes based on the answers. A verbal format isn’t set in stone: The teacher might ask them to line up at the door and each answer a question as they leave. If the next lesson is in the same classroom, the teacher might ask students to line up at the side of the room and return to their desks in order as each one answers.

Additionally, teachers can use a group exit ticket format now and then to break up the process. A teacher places students in pairs or larger groups with a single exit slip per group. This format helps a teacher learn more about how their students handle team-based tasks. They can also observe how groups of students delegate responsibilities. For example, a teacher might learn that one student is trusted by others more because of their handwriting or perceived higher intelligence. They might also discover a non-participating student who seems to be struggling with shyness or low self-esteem.

Exit review conclusion

Whether a teacher uses a written or verbal exit review strategy, they need only to scan the answers to compile data and locate patterns of learning and problem areas. For example, a teacher might learn that nearly half the class didn’t understand a key concept or that one or two students need tutoring or additional learning tools. A teacher can use the data to learn how to adjust their lesson plans, teaching style, and even their one-on-one and group interactions to create an optimal learning environment in general or with a particular group of students. The data can also help them to learn if the exit review process needs improvement.

Exit tickets are only one of a wide range of tools that teachers use to assess their students’ needs and their own abilities as teachers. Yet, these brief sessions provide quality results in one of the fastest and most impactful ways possible.