Exit Tickets are quick formative assessments that can help you make instructional decisions effectively. But with so many other lesson components, assessments, and responsibilities to juggle, you might find yourself wondering whether Exit Tickets are worth the time and effort. In my experience, they are a valuable investment that informs planning and helps support all students in learning the grade-level content. Let’s explore how to use Exit Tickets efficiently for maximum benefit.
Do the math! Know what the Exit Ticket should tell you.
To prepare for the student work you are likely to see, consider working through the Exit Ticket yourself. As you do so, think about the different ways that students might do the math. What strategies might they use? What mistakes might they make? What can those possible approaches and missteps tell you about students’ understanding of the math? The time you take to do the math and to think about how students might engage with the problems will pay off because you’ll be able to quickly analyze the student data later.
In addition, doing the math helps guide your instruction for the lesson. You can adjust your instruction in the moment because you know the desired outcome and the stumbling blocks that students might encounter. You’ll also be equipped to make smart customization decisions: what to emphasize, adapt, or omit from the lesson to meet the needs of your students, to maintain pacing, and to meet lesson objectives.
Quickly review students’ Exit Ticket work.
Have students complete the Exit Ticket at the end of the lesson. The Exit Ticket is intended to be a quick assessment of how well students have met lesson objectives and should take about 3–5 minutes. Once you have evaluated students’ work, sort Exit Tickets into three categories: Got It, Almost Got It, and Not Yet.
Let’s consider the work of three students on a sample Exit Ticket from Grade 2. In this Exit Ticket, s must find 9+6 and 8+5.
Got It: Student demonstrates conceptual understanding of the lesson outcomes.
The Got It category is for work that is correct or mostly correct. Student work that falls into this category might include small errors that are unrelated to the concept. As you sort work into the Got It category, think about the different strategies students used to succeed with the math. This example shows work from a student who successfully decomposed numbers to make use of the make a ten strategy.
Almost Got It: Student shows basic misconceptions.
The Almost Got It category is for work that shows evidence of one or two basic misconceptions. Errors in the work indicate that the student needs more practice to solidify understanding but does not have larger learning gaps. As you sort work into the Almost Got It category, think about the errors you see and what concepts or strategies you can ask about or reinforce in coming lessons to help students resolve the errors and move on in the learning. This example shows work from a student who understands that the problem requires decomposing a number and knows how to make ten but doesn’t consistently decompose numbers correctly.
In response, you might build on the student’s ability to make ten and then help the student think about how making ten affects the addends. Consider asking students how they know their answer is reasonable. For instance, should the first problem have a sum that is greater than or less than ? You may also want to challenge the student’s use of the equal sign in the second problem.
Not Yet: Student shows deeper misconceptions.
The Not Yet category is for work showing misunderstandings that indicated larger learning gaps. As you sort work into the Not Yet category, think about the students’ misconceptions and how you’ll address them. This example shows work from a student who attempts to make a ten as the problem requires but does not decompose the other addend.
In response, consider having the student focus on the reasonableness of the answer or check the answer by another method. You may build from the success of finding the partner to ten and use number bonds to help the student think through the rest of the work.
Make instructional decisions.
Reflect on the overall work of the class. As you consider the data, keep in mind that Exit Tickets are formative assessments meant to inform instruction. They are not meant to be measures of proficiency but of progress toward proficiency. Don’t just focus on student errors; also note student strengths. Celebrate success! Share the successes with students and build on those successes in the lessons that follow to push learning further or to correct misconceptions.
If most students do well on the Exit Ticket, correct small errors with a quick note or a question to advance student thinking. Even if you have many students in the Almost Got It and Not Yet categories, that does not necessarily mean you should reteach, extend the lesson, or even review the entire Exit Ticket with the whole class. What should you do then? Use the data to incorporate in upcoming instruction the specific skills and concepts that students still need to practice. Consider the following approaches:
Targeted Fluency Practice
Is there a foundational skill that caused trouble for most of the class? If so, consider using fluency activities to continue to build this skill. For example, consider planning a fluency activity focused on decomposing to make ten.
Consider highlighting or reiterating concepts in the context of another lesson. In future lessons, incorporate scaffolding questions or additional steps to highlight skills that students may need to focus on to make progress on the path to mastery. For example, consider including discussion questions about whether the way an addition problem is adjusted maintains the same sum.
Small Group Instruction
If a subset of the class makes similar conceptual errors, consider addressing those errors in a small group setting if you have the structures in place to do so. Work with these small groups of students to correct misconceptions.
While these are excellent ways to customize lessons to meet student needs, these methods are not always necessary. Remember that proficiency comes over time. Eureka Math is designed so that students usually have opportunities to engage with math concepts again in upcoming lessons. Often, no specific intervention is needed. Instead, use what you learn from examining student work on the Exit Tickets to bring certain concepts or procedures to the forefront when they appear in future lessons.
Exit Tickets are a powerful and informative instructional tool. The more you use them, the more you’ll find them helpful to hone instruction and meet the needs of all students.
Jessica Bulgarelli is an implementation leader for Eureka Math at Great Minds®. Previously, she was a middle school math teacher and instructional leader in Baltimore City, Maryland.
Topics: Implementation Support