Saturday, October 20, 2012

(Re)thinking BVP Exit Tickets

BVP uses various forms of exit tickets in almost all classes almost all the time.  It is a part of who we are - it is one of the techniques identified by Lemov in Teach Like a Champion - and the practice is common at virtually every high-expectations or no-excuse charter.  An exit ticket for kindergarten art might look pretty different from 7th grade math, but the purpose of the exit ticket is the same...or is it?

The exit ticket, at a high level, seems to serve one of two purposes:
  1. Formative assessment of the scholar
  2. Formative assessment of the teacher
When you consider the first purpose, the exit ticket starts to look and feel like a mini-quiz that allows the teacher to understand how the class as a whole is doing and also how individual scholars are handling the materials.  This is very common at BVP.  Often the exit ticket will be a pen-to-paper response, or sometimes a whiteboard activity.  In our own work at BVP, check out this inspiring example from Mrs. Turner's art program:
Beginning art criticism:  after a lesson where a masterwork has been used as project inspiration, scholars are asked to pretend the masterwork won a contest and give it an award.  What award would you give this artwork?  (i.e. Best Lines?  Best Colors?  Coolest shapes?  Strangest title?  Spookiest? ...)  Scholars decide on their award criteria, fill it in on their award ribbon outline, cut it out and pin it to the masterwork copy when their table is called to line up.  This activity touches upon the four areas of art criticism: description, analysis, interpretation and judgement in one activity. 
As we look to continuously improve, how do we take this type of exit ticket to the next level?  (We will leave grading of exit tickets and grading practices in general for another blog.)  One BIG IMPORTANT idea is around differentiation in exit tickets.  Check out this video of a middle school math teacher using differentiated exit tickets and then using the results from exit tickets to inform instruction for the next day.  Moreover, excellence in exit tickets requires scholars need to see the result of their exit ticket - ideally in real-time - with a quick self or peer-grade.  Have you ever tried this?

The second type of exit ticket, the teacher formative assessment, is something that I have actually seen very little of at BVP. That said, I think implementing this type of exit ticket might push our work to a higher level. In last week's Marshall Memo (BVP staff check your email/spam - others click here), Kim Marshall summarized a recent article by Robert Marzano, "The Many Uses of Exit Slips" - this is what really got me thinking about how we might better engage scholars in ownership of their own learning through exit tickets. (That and a fun debate on Monday night with Ms. Emet and Ms. Afonso after a great grading workshop with Dr. Phil Thornton.) Read Marshall's summary (or the not much longer full article) and consider what responses you might get to an exit slip that would read:
  • What are you most confused about from class today? or
  • What is something that I (teacher) can do to improve your understanding of the content?
I have seen school leaders have great success with this strategy whereby they solicit feedback from teachers on how the school leader can better support them. (Colleen Colarusso takes this pulse weekly with her team at ES2 and puts the feedback into action...or certainly deeply considers the feedback).  Why can't we ask the same of our scholars?  Here's a quick and simple "smiley face" grid from a Rhode Island high school (yes, even high school kids love smiley faces).  

Herein lies the BIG CRAZY IDEA: 
  1. Take a week's worth of exit tickets and divide them in half.  
  2. With one half of the exit tickets, think through what a differentiated ticket might look like (see the video above) and implement the differentiated ticket a few times a week (you would be wise to reach out to peers or special educators for ideas on how best to build this system). 
  3. With the other half of your exit tickets - throw them out and replace them with an explicit teacher formative assessment like one of the ones from Marzano above or the smiley face grid.
  4. Repeat.
You can actually get back the extra time spent on differentiating scholar-focused exit tickets by building a standard set of questions that you regularly use for the teacher-focused exit tickets.  

My challenge to all teachers at BVP is to attempt 1) a differentiated exit ticket, and 2) a teacher-focused formative assessment between now and the end of October.  Use the comments section below to share your experience, or, if you aren't interested in a public dialogue, shoot me an email and let me know how it's going!

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