Exit Slips

I mentioned before that I was going to try @approx_normal's index card idea for bell ringers and exit slip. And I have been trying but I don't know how successful I've been.

First of all, I waste paper. Before, I made full page bell ringers for every student. My new ones are index card size with four per page. But I keep forgetting that and printing 24 copies when I should only make 6. Plus, on Friday, some of the pages were missing the question or the diagram and some were perfectly fine. And I always cut them crooked and mess them up. So I just made a big mess. I need left-handed scissors!

Second, I can't find the right questions to ask for the exit slip. The bell ringer is easy- either review something old or intro something new. I've been doing a good job of stopping and giving students time to complete the exit slip although it's still hard to judge how much time is needed. Sometimes I give too much and sometimes not enough. I'm dealing with the issue of two types of students: 1. The students who comes right into class and attempts to do the bell ringer and the exit slip. 2. The student who does the bell ringer side only and turns it in.

Third, I don't know what the heck to do with them. So far I've asked them more than one question so I couldn't really group them for data purposes because they would get different parts right or wrong and not the whole thing. I tried to sort them by which smiley face they picked but even then, what do I do next? I just have no idea what to do with data. You'd think this would come naturally to a math teacher...

Here are some of the exit slip questions I tried and the answers I got.

Write everything you know about midsegments.
  • A lot!
  • More than can fit in this space
  • The middle line of a triangle.
  • The middle of a line.
  • Most of them were blank
Write a one sentence summary of today's lesson.
  • It was easy.
  • Ok I guess.
  • HARD!
  • It was fine.
Why is this method better?
  • It's quicker.
  • IDK.
  • Shorter.
Which form is the easiest to graph and why?
  • This one because it's the one I know how to do.
  • This one because I forgot the other ones.
  • Vertex form.
What was the ‘main idea’ of today’s lesson?
  • IDK
  • To find solutions.
  • How many solutions a system has.

So obviously we need to discuss writing complete sentences and answering the question. Of course I'm not taking a grade on this but I just can't them to grasp the importance of actually doing it. I explained that I am using these to tell me how many people understood the lesson so that I can go over it again or move on. But still, a lot of blanks. Almost everyone will do the bell ringer but not the exit slip and I don't know why. I don't pass out homework until after they turn it in so it's not that they are trying to get it done. I have to assume that they don't know the answer to the question and then where does that leave me?

I have not been happy with the results because I haven't felt like I got any actual results. 

This week I am trying:

Restate the goal of today's lesson in your own words. (We have an 'I can' statement at the beginning of their notes. Well, sometimes we do. Working on that.)

Did you understand today's lesson?    Smiley   Straight Face     Frown

What math did you learn today? (Thanks to @crstn85)

If this doesn't work, I'm not sure what else to try. I wanted the bell ringer to be a problem and the exit slip more of a reflection written in words but I may have to do a bit of both. 

I'm trying.


  1. First, I love your posts!

    You have come across the biggest obstacle of journaling, the smart-alek answer. It drives me nuts when journals resort to this. Keep plugging away.

    Concerning your last prompt. It is a great one. Try giving them a definite time interval. I start with one minute and work up to 3 minutes. They must write the entire time. The may not look up, look at their neighbor, anything. If they need, they may write something like, "I don't know."

    The most important thing is to share the answers with the class. The majority of class (like 90%) start with I don't know. After we share a few times, the students start to summarize on their own. Students who don't come around on their own are threatened to come-in on their own (what students call detention) and share what they have learned.

  2. I used exit slips all the time. I suggest making the questions more specific and ones that would betray student understanding. The ones you have here are really open ended and leave too much room for writing nothing, like students enjoy doing. I suggest two sorts of problems. One would be a problem maybe from the homework or a released question from your state test that is tied to the standard. The other would be more narrative. Something like this: "Joe was absent from school yesterday. Saul uses this problem to explain ... Saul says..." Is Saul correct? If not, explain what the answer should have been." Or similar to the one you put, "Cici thinks the easiest way to graph is using intercepts. Do you agree or disagree? If you agree, what makes this way easy? If you don't, what method do you prefer? What makes it easier than graphing with intercepts?" Use the smiley face thing in conjunction. Then sort into three piles: Those who get it & are confident, those who get it but aren't confident, and those who do not get it, confident or not. When I did it, those who got it and were confident would either be table leaders for a group activity or excused from review problems on that topic to serve as tutors while others completed the problems.

  3. William,
    Thanks for reading! I love your idea of sharing their answers with the class. I had not thought of that.

    Yours seem quite a bit more in depth than mine. How much time did you give students to complete this? Maybe my shorter open-ended ones are a good way to get students into the routine before going more in depth.

    So how did you address the students who didn't get it? Did you do review problems or a group activity like you mentioned in the last sentence?

    Logistically, how did you do exit slips? I've been printing bell ringers and warm ups front to back and there is 4 per page. But for some reason when I print or copy them, they are always crooked. I spend so much time just cutting the stupid things. Do you have a better suggestion?

  4. My ratio of effort spent on exit slips vs. productive work hasn't been too great; logistically all that paper is a super-pain. Since you're thinking about full-on journaling questions I might recommend something more permanent-feeling than index cards, which would feel very disposible if I was a student and not spending much work on. Even a regular piece of paper would be a step up if you made it look "official" and had a black-border template or some such and a set place to fill in the name and date.

  5. Jason,
    They are index card size but I make them myself so they have a border, the title, name, date, and hour. I just can't figure out what the heck I want them to tell me on the exit slip.

  6. Love your reflective posts!

    Something I started this year was putting the entire week's warm-ups on one sheet of paper. It helps immensely instead of ending up with 180 little pieces of paper each day. I have each daily warm up question(s) determined when I make the copies. They store it a manila folder in class so it can easily be accessed as soon as they walk in. One student at each table grabs the folders for their table as they walk in, and another files it back in cabinet at end of period.

    In regards to your exit ticket, what about having some sort of sentence frame(s) such as summarizing the lesson, comparing/contrasting methods, having them identify areas of confusion, where they need clarification, etc.

  7. Thanks Ms. Young!

    I have thought about putting them on on one sheet but I can't plan more than a day at a time so I don't see how I can make that work. Plus I find it easier to sort through a small pile than to have to deal with folders.

    I have actually tried all the sentence frames you mentioned but students are not used to having to write about math or do exit slips at all for that matter. We're definitely at the baby step level. I'd like to find a good question that I could ask every time but I haven't had much success so far.

    I'm thinking abut getting more specific and asking students what example from the notes that they don't understand. At least then I could easily pinpoint an area to work on, if not an actual misunderstanding.

  8. A bit late to the party, but... I almost always ask my students to solve a problem related to the day's work on the exit slip, and I give them a tiny piece of paper to do it. (Tiny like I get 10-20 on a single sheet of paper.) Then I quickly go through the papers: right answers get recycled, wrong answers get quickly sorted based on type of error. The next day (hopefully) I pull those students aside for quick remediation based on their errors. I recycle the wrong ones after I use them to call students over to remediate.

    I do the more meta-cognitive type questions less frequently, and in addition to the regular problem.

    I get around non-answers by not letting students out of the classroom until they do the problem. When they tell me they'll be late for their next class I shrug and tell them not to waste class time in the future. It hasn't been a problem since. I also think it's part of how you introduce it... I spent a lot of time talking about how the exit slips were going to help me help them, so I think they see some value in doing them.

  9. Chris,
    I failed to explain it at all and that's probably where I messed up most. I also haven't enforced them doing it or not getting to leave. I also sort into piles but my pattern seems to be about 7 get it right, 7 get it wrong, and 7 get it half wrong. Then I don't know what to do with that.