It's a small start - organization, exit slips, and a freebie!

Good morning all!! Today I'm working on electronically organizing my exit slips for this upcoming school year. I tend to save them ALL into one huge file, creatively titled "exit slips." :) And they all get jumbled up and lost in the chaos. This morning, I'm separating the ever-expanding file into some smaller, and no less creatively named, sub-files titled 'Reading Exit Slips,' 'Writing Exit Slips,' and 'Math Exit Slip's, I'm also creating files within the sub-files that are labeled by the Common Core standard or topic. I know, I know, it's not rocket science - but hey it's the little things that count!! And in my book, the more organized I can get before school actually starts, the smoother my school year will run!! 

In the spirit of feeling organized, accomplished and a tiny bit ready for this new year to start - I'm throwing back a post ALL about how I use exit slips for closure during our reading, writing and math workshops! Enjoy!!

I am a workshop addict! 

Any other workshop teachers out there? I absolutely love workshop - it is my passion. I am constantly reading teacher books and thinking about ways to improve my reading, writing, and math workshops. While there are lots of benefits to the workshop style of teaching, there are also a few drawbacks. Assessment seems to be an issue that comes up a lot with my colleagues. Us upper elementary teachers need grades, (unless we are lucky and have standardized report cards) and grades are often hard to come by in a true workshop. So today I'm here to talk with you about one of the ways I grade formatively assess my students during workshop.

In true workshop style, students are learning and discussing new skills during a short mini-lesson (not exactly a place to earn a grade). Students then move into the workshop portion of the session to practice (either previous skills or the new skill they were taught that day). Since students are authentically practicing skills, this time should be a place for students to grow and learn from their mistakes, not to be assessed for a grade. There are some days when I collect notebooks to assess student progress, and I am always working with small strategy and intervention groups as well as conferring with individuals to assess progress. But again, it's hard to give grades during those times because everyone is doing something different. Our workshop ends each day when students come back together to share/discuss what they learned/practiced and again this should be a comfortable, stress free place for students to talk about what went well and what didn't. So, while authentic teaching, learning, and assessing is happening - grading is not.

And, since I am still expected to enter grades into a grade book, I panic when the end of the marking period nears and my grade book is as empty as a bird's nest in December. Anyone else been there? Yikes!

Enter the exit slip. 

This little guy has saved my life, literally. No more making up silly assignments just to get grades. (Gulp, confession time) This guy truly assesses my student's understanding each day (bonus) and can be entered into my grade book as a grade (double bonus). Rush of relief! I hand out a daily exit slip at the end of workshop time almost daily.

Math Exit slips are designed to bring closure to your math lessons. I use slips that have fewer than four tasks to complete and should take students approximately 5 minutes to finish.

I collect the sheets and my formative assessment needs are met. In just minutes I can quickly form piles of students who have a concept mastered, who are almost there, and who need intervention. Now I can plan my instruction for the next day. I know if I can move on or not, and who I'll need to check in with for extra practice. Exit slips ensure 'No student gets left behind' in my classroom!!!

Where do I get the exit slips? 

I create them before I teach each unit. I'm a firm believer in backward design. Before I begin a new unit, whether it is informational writing, character development, or order of operations, I start with the common core standards and create the summative (final) assessment (if one isn't already provided by my district). Then, I work backward. I start by breaking the assessment into three or four chunks and create formative assessments (quizzes) to give along the way to inform my instruction of those skills and help provide intervention when needed, instead of when it's too late. Then I break each formative assessment (quiz) into chunks which become lessons. Lastly, I create an exit slip assessment for each lesson. Yes, I said EACH lesson. Exit slips are short and sweet. Mine are only a half page and usually consist of 2 to 4 questions. It takes me about an hour to create all of the exit slips for the unit. Then I print them, copy them, and I have my daily lessons organized and ready to go.

Why use exit slips? 

Not only are they quick and easy to create, but they are also quick and easy to grade. They only take about 5 minutes for students to complete, and most importantly they tell you instantly who is ready to move on and who needs more practice. True formative assessment! Plus, double whammy, grades for the grade book. But what about homework? I think exit slips are a better assessment than homework, because, well, homework is often done with the help of someone else.

Don't wait for the big test to figure out who doesn't get it! With frequent math exit slips you can quickly assess your students and know immediately who has it and who doesn't. Math exit slips are a MUST in every best practice classroom!

All you workshop junkies with empty grade books, if you'd like to try out using exit slips in your classroom - here's a FREEBIE from my Common Core Decimal Numbers Assessment Pack. I hope you find it useful.



I would love to hear how you are already using exit slips in your classroom!!

Lastly, don't forget to enter my friend Stephanie's Blogiversary Giveaway over at Forever in Fifth Grade!  She's giving away two great back to school products to a lucky winner this Friday!!!  

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  1. Little Mercies - Heather Gudenkauf (sp?) This was a read just for me, but I enjoyed it!

  2. I just discovered this blog - awesome!

  3. For One More Day by Mitch Albom. It was a very touching story.


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