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Reflecting on Exit Tickets

The Education Endowment Foundation ranks it as the number 1 strategy in terms of impact on learning. International sports coaches use it daily, to refine and improve athletes. Companies invest large amount of money to get it from targeted groups. People post on social media, hoping to get it back in an instant. Critics give it to plays, restaurants, hotels, clothes, cars and more.

Wherever you go in life, you can’t get away from feedback. It drives things forward, gives encouragement on positive ideas, whilst also giving advice on how to continue improving. It is central to almost everything we do, yet if I’m being honest, I never felt it had a massive impact in the maths classrooms. So, I came up with excuses to why my feedback wasn’t great, or didn’t have the desired impact, or worse, made it superficial, so when people would look at my books and think it was of a good quality, but in reality, the improvements were not there.

After first reading a post by Jemma Sherwood on exit tickets, then following this up by reading a post from Harry Fletcher-Wood, I decided to try exit tickets with 3 of my classes. Below is a brief summary of what I did, then the reflections I had over the course of the exit tickets.

  • We have maths 4 times a week, I didn’t want to do an exit ticket every single lesson, but I didn’t want to leave two big of a gap, so decided to do an exit ticket every other lesson.
  • I would prepare 3 questions that I wanted learners to be able to answer after 2 lessons.
  • The questions would sometimes be taken from the awarding body examplars.
  • The tickets were done on A5 coloured paper
  • I would mark these the same day and give them back the next lesson to be stuck in their book.
  • Depending on the outcomes, we would either continue with our lessons, revisit a certain question from the exit ticket and do some practice on these, on in some cases, reteach the lesson.

 

Below are the questions I have been asking myself over the months and my reflections.

Am I just measuring performance and not learning?

Yes, I am deliberately asking questions around what we have just covered. Exit tickets have been a safety net for me, I want to make sure my students have understood the basics and challenging misconceptions. Reading about cognitive load theory, I don’t want my students to be struggling with lesson 1 and 2, whilst we are on lesson 3 and 4.

What if the lessons don’t go as planned?

I simply change the questions I will ask at the end, in some cases, I have abandoned the exit ticket as I have felt the learners would benefit from continuing with some questions. Flexibility is key.

Should I also be marking their books?

This is something which has been going around in my head a lot. The hard work the learner produces in lessons should be acknowledged and rewarded; I aim to do this by doing a lot of show call throughout lessons. Learners self-mark their work when answers are shared in class. Whiteboards/multiple choice questions give me snapshots of what is happening throughout the lesson. By using exit tickets, I am marking and giving feedback on work far more often than I would be by taking books home every X amount of weeks to mark on a Sunday afternoon.

When will I be assessing learning and not performance?

Unit assessment tests, which are delayed by 2 weeks to test how much leaners have retained in their long term memory.

What style of questions should I ask?

This is something I am still working on, I am attempting to “teach to the top”, but I know sometimes I just need to assess if a student can write a number in standard form, or use Pythagoras to find a longest side. I occasionally put in an A02 or A03 style question later on in a topic. Recently, I have also looked on Mr Barton maths for some “Probing questions”, throwing in a Vi3 treatment or a convince me that.

Could I include success criteria/learning intentions on the exit tickets?

This is something which I am on the fence about including on the exit tickets. The exit tickets would then require pre-printing which would then take away from some of the flexibility of them. It would also focus the learners on what to think about to answer the questions, I am not sure if this would promote independence or take away the focus behind them.

Exit tickets have had a really positive effect on my teaching for several reasons. I have never felt I know my classes as much as I do now; they have really helped me to keep a track of those learners who may sometimes be lost in a large class. When I mark a set of exit tickets (usually 5-10 minutes for a class of 30), it helps me identify misconceptions my class may have developed. This happened early on in the trial, when doing standard form with Y9. The exit ticket showed they were excellent at writing a number in ordinary form from standard form, when the number was less than 1. However, when the ordinary number was greater than 1, many of the class just added 0’s to the end of a number to the end of a number. After seeing this, I was very explicit about the mistake they were making, re taught the skill, and got learners to practise more of it, before moving on.

I was wary of learners becoming fed up of being tested, but the majority of feedback I have had from learners has been positive. Many of told me they like it, as it focusses their thinking and they get instant feedback. A secondary effect has been on motivation of some learners who didn’t always see maths as a positive. They are feeling success in maths, although we are assessing performance, this success is leading to a stronger motivation for the subject.

From a professional point of view, I am eager to continue narrowing the attainment gap in my classes. I feel exit tickets; alongside other changes to my practice I have made is doing this. They are the safety net for those students, to put it in an analogy, I am now checking my students are on the correct path along our journey, and not just counting how many have made it at the end.

From a personal point of view, since becoming a dad, I have been trying to become a more efficient teacher, doing more of what works, and less of what doesn’t. Exit tickets have allowed me to mark every students work, twice a week, refining and reflecting on my teaching in a time effective way. I would recommend them to anyone. Feedback now seems is an integral part of my lessons, I couldn’t be half the teacher I am without it. It has taken time though to find something which works for me. Exit tickets aren’t perfect, and I still need to develop how I am using them, but I am committed to the idea to improve these further.

 

Tips

  • I do mine on coloured A5 paper, doesn’t matter what colour, just that it stands out against the white book so it is clear and easy to find.
  • Time needs to be given over to learners to attempt them, I usually give on average 10 minutes. Don’t try and rush them in the last 2 minutes, no one is benefiting then. Be flexible in your approach.
  • When someone has done a fantastic one, scan it in and project it to the class, explain why it is excellent.
  • Scan in misconceptions and show on the board, praise the learner who made the mistake, “I am really happy you made this mistake, a lot of people do this, so thank you that we can address it for everyone”.

4 Comments

  1. J Sherwood | | Reply

    I’m really glad you are seeing the benefits of exit tickets so well. If I can, I’ll just address a couple of your questions:

    1. Learning intentions on the ticket – this is an unnecessary layer of complexity. Pre-printing required, doesn’t have any relevance to the purpose of the ticket. I shouldn’t waste time on it.

    2. When thinking about the style of questions, again remember the purpose: to inform your next steps with the class. If you have three increasingly difficult questions, you can see where problems arise more easily than if you put in complex problem-solving type questions. Make the ticket work for you, showing you what you need to do next.

    • jsteele | | Reply

      No I agree about the first point. The second one, I have just been trying to write better questions. On area of a triangle, the third question was something like, draw me 3 triangles with an area of 30cm^2.
      Thanks for taking the time to read and reply

  2. eric block | | Reply

    I really like they way you have set up using exit tickets. I am torn about preprinting for say a topic like histograms. It would take too long for them to copy the histogram on their page. For number and algebra questions it is more straight forward. How do you handle exit tickets for these type of topics? Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • jsteele | | Reply

      Thank you for your feedback, I had this problem recently with tangents to a curve and area under a graph. In this case I did preprint. Found most topics can be adapted though

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