Exit Slips: Your Ticket to Closure

Have you ever found yourself rushing through the last bit of lecture so that you can finish up before the bell rings? Calling out homework assignments as students trickle out the door? Ending in the middle of an activity because the specials teacher is waiting? If you are like most teachers, the answer to these questions is probably a resounding yes.

We all know that bringing closure to a lesson is important. In an ideal world, we would always deliver perfectly paced instruction. Unfortunately, knowing something and actually doing it are two totally different things. Since we aren’t living in an ideal world, and since the pacing of even our most well-planned lessons can be so easily interrupted, what can we do?

One thought is to introduce exit slips into our classes. Exit slips allow teachers the flexibility to bring closure to a lesson at any point—a helpful tool for those days when the time has gotten away from you. They can be distributed (or written on the board) the last 3-5 minutes of class, and collected as students leave the room.

Here are some ways that exit slips can be used:

Consolidating Learning:

  • Solve a sample problem.
  • What you would tell a friend who was absent about class today? What would he need to know?
  • Provide a cloze statement for students to complete. [i.e., Apostrophes are _______________ marks used to indicate ______________ (as in Hui’s ball) and _______________ (such as can’t or didn’t).]
  • Rank what you learned in order of importance.
  • Write a tweet about what you learned (140 characters or less).
  • List 5 key words (vocabulary) you need to understand what we learned today.

Formative Assessment/Checking for Understanding: (Some of these can be useful for those days when you have to stop mid-instruction as they encourage students to think ahead and connect to the next day’s learning.)

  • Write one question you still have.
  • Finish the statement: I’m still wondering about…
  • What two questions do you think must be included on a quiz over today’s lesson?
  • Give an example of what we learned today (i.e., Write three words that start with a hard c sound.)
  • What concept do you need more examples of to really feel like you’ve learned?
  • Draw a diagram/illustration of what you learned today.

Connect to Prior Knowledge:

  • Finish the statement: I used to think… b/c… but now I think… b/c…
  • How did today’s lesson connect to yesterday’s topic?
  • What connections can you make with other lessons? With real life? With your faith? With other subjects?

Activate Critical Thinking Skills:

  • Finish the statement: One concept that has been difficult or confusing in this chapter is… b/c… but I overcame my challenge by…
  • What did I learn today (not what was the lesson about)?
  • How might today’s lesson connect God’s word and God’s world?
  • What are you thinking about after today’s lesson?
  • What mistakes did you make today? What did you learn from them?
  • Make a statement about the lesson and ask students to respond to that statement in writing. (i.e., Global warming is something that all citizens of the world should be concerned about. Based on today’s lesson write 1-2 sentences telling if you agree or disagree and why.)

Evaluate the Effectiveness of Instruction (Metacognition):

  • What did the teacher do to help you learn today?
  • What would have helped you to learn the material better?
  • How effective was __x__ activity in helping you learn the material?
  • Name one positive and one negative thing that happened during discussion time in class today.
  • How well do you think you understood today’s lesson: 

Exit slips are not formal assessments. Instead, they are snapshots of student learning at a given point in time. They are not graded, but do need to be reviewed as a way to inform teaching strategies. Exit slips should take very little time to complete (3-5 minutes). They help students reflect on their learning and transition between lessons. Not only do they bring closure, they equip teachers to better tailor instruction to the real needs of students.

If you’ve never used exit slips before, why don’t you give them a try in 2019? And for those of you who are really adventurous, consider adding technology to the mix. Bringing closure to your class has never been this easy!

Becky Hunsberger, M.Ed.
Teacher Education Services
TeachBeyond Global

Photo Credits: School’s Out. Classroom Matters, via ShutterstockClock. Chris Campbell Flickr via Compfight ccStudents Writing. via Shutterstock.