A Ticket Out the Door

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Many teachers struggle with closure.  It’s always a challenge to stop the lesson in time at the end of the period to sum up the day’s learning and reflect on whether or not we have achieved our desired outcomes.  One powerful strategy for gathering data about student learning at the end of a learning episode is the exit ticket.  An exit ticket gives the teacher formative data about where students are in their learning and should inform choices I make as a teacher about subsequent lesson plans.

Here are some great Exit Ticket templates you can use:

http://wgbyeducation.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/exitslips.pdf

And here is a Pinterest board devoted to the topic:

But, remember, an exit ticket does not have to be fancy and photocopied.  It can be a slip of paper or index card.  What matters most is:  will the questions you are asking provide you with the data you need to drive your instructional decision making?

We often ask questions on exit tickets that are too open ended or general.  Craft your questions to get at the most important learning: What will students know, understand, and be able to do?

Here is a list of Exit Ticket prompts I’ve begun to accumulate that are grouped by levels of Bloom’s taxonomy and more:

http://letthedatabeyourguide.wikispaces.com/Exit+Slip+Prompts

So, now I have the Exit Ticket data… what do I do with it?

Some examples of ways a teacher might respond to Exit Ticket data might be:

what the data says > how I might respond to it

  • all students met the objective > move on with the curriculum
  • most students have not met the objective >  plan a follow up activity using a different modality
  • some students met the objective, some partially met it, some are still struggling with it > sort the exit tickets to create flexible groups with tiered activities 

Exit tickets are just one way to collect formative data from our students and can provide direction for teachers on their lesson planning and their choices for instructional strategies.

It’s all about choices

Over the last several years, I’ve been doing a lot of work in the areas of student engagement and differentiated instruction.  Once aspect that stands out in both areas is the power of student choice.  According to Kanevsky and Keighley, in their article entitled “To Produce or Not to Produce: Understanding Boredom and the Honor of Underachievement” (2003), choice ranks among the 5 characteristics of an optimal learning environment that students seek along with the aspects of control, challenge, complexity and caring.  Choices are motivating to most people and we often make choices based on our personal preferences.

In the world of differentiation, choice also plays center stage and no other strategy illustrates this more than Choice Boards (also called Learning Menus, Think-Tac-Toes).  Choice boards offer a menu of options for students that can vary in content, process, or product.  They are most often constructed with varied learning styles and interests in mind.  Choice boards can even be tiered so that advanced learners are steered toward more challenging choices and struggling learners toward more scaffolded choices.

Here is a link to my wiki called Dare to Differentiate where you will find a plethora of examples of choice boards in various formats (one of my favorites is the dinner menu) for various subject areas and levels.  Also check out a new type of choice board I’ve recently found called the 2-5-8.  On the wikipage, I have also linked to or uploaded examples of rubrics for choice boards along with multimedia examples of ways to deepen your knowledge on the topic.

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Student Engagement: A Hot Topic

It seems everywhere you look, student engagement is a hot topic.  Engaging students in learning in the 21st century is very different from the way we engaged students in the past.  We know that many students are “cooperating” and “complying” in our classrooms, and some are downright angry about how disengaged they are.

If you are interested in exploring the topic of Student Engagement, I would like to direct you to a wiki I created called “Let’s Get Engaged.”  On that wiki, I have accumulated a considerable amount of resources on topics relating to student engagement, originally based on a multi-session workshop series.

On the page called “What is student engagement?,” I include a variety of resources in multimedia on the topic.  One of my “go-to” resources on the topic is the Schlechty Center.  You may know Phil Schlechty from his popular book, Working on the Work.  Schlechty describes several levels of engagement:

  • engagement
  • strategic compliance
  • ritual compliance
  • retreatism
  • rebellion

For a pdf description of the levels of engagement, click here.

I have created a tool I call the “Engage-O-Meter” for teachers to use when reflecting on activities they plan for their students.  No one activity is likely to meet all of the qualities of engagement.  When teachers try out a new activity with a class that students do not seem to engage in, the Engage-O-Meter can give some direction to the teacher as to how the activity might be re-engineered to increase student engagement.  Here is that tool:

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An important point of discussion is the difference between engagement and entertainment.  Do I have to wear a clown nose and juggle to get my students to engage?  Not at all.  Quite simply put, entertainment is what the teacher is doing, engagement is what the students are doing.  Engaging with each other, engaging with the content, engaging in discussions with the teacher.  How do your lessons measure up on the “Engage-O-Meter?”