KSA #05 Differentiation · KSA #06 Planning · KSA #07 Student Needs · KSA #09 Instructional Strategies · KSA #10 Technology · KSA #11 Assessment

The Exit Slip: An Assessment Tool in Need of a New Look

AssessmentHow many of you use the exit slip as your go to formative assessment piece? Teachers use the exit slip often to formatively assess student understanding of the concepts that were taught during the days lesson. Now, I wonder does anybody get bored of handing out exit slips to students? I know that when I put in my lesson “exit slip” I cringe a little.

What is it about the exit slip that I find so, unauthentic? Perhaps it’s that it always looks the same – it’s a slip of paper asking students to write down their responses to a few questions at the end of a lesson. I also wonder, how many of our students will have grasped a concept in one lesson? Is it fair, even though these are assessments for learning, to ask our students to answer questions immediately following a lesson to check for understanding? Sure, there will be a small percentage that will have “mastered” the concept in one lesson, there will be some that are utterly lost and then there will be the majority that will be able to answer the questions asked because the information is so fresh. We see that a majority of our students “understand” the concept, smile and continue on with the next days topic (as for those utterly confused students, we give them the opportunity to come in for extra help before and after school – or time permitting, during work time in class). 

I had a teacher that would give us quizzes each day on the previous days material at the beginning of the following class. I suppose we could call them entrance slips, for lack for a better phrase. This would allow the students time to collaborate with their peers, ask questions during class, after school, or before school the next day and give them the evening to work on the concept and reach a level of proficiency. Again, for some students it will take more time, but this certainly provides a better opportunity for the students to become comfortable with the material before being assessed on it, regardless if it is formative or summative.

I also have an issue with the exit slip (or entrance slip) being a piece of paper that is handed in and to be checked for understanding. Why can’t we use Instagram, Twitter, or other 21st century tools to engage our students in formative assessments? In my SCI 10 class this fall, I plan to have students find a partner (one will need to have either Instagram or Twitter) and demonstrate an understanding of force and work. Using social media they will be able to post a series of pictures or a video to display their understanding of these concepts. Could I ask them to write down answers to various questions to confirm that they have grasped the concepts of force and work? Sure I could, but why not take it one step further and have them show me? Using social media to check for understanding will increase student’s engagement, while also taking into account different learning styles making my classroom a more inclusive environment. I can also ask my students to take the learning one step further and comment on two of their peers work, which will provide additional feedback to students to help elevate their learning.

As teachers we need to think about when and how we are assessing our students for learning and how the tools and/or timeline will affect students ability to effectively prove their understanding of the material. 

Until next time, 
Mr. B

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