Wednesday, July 15, 2020

What am I going to do with all these exit slips?

Exit slips offer a great opportunity for students to independently reflect on their understanding and ability to perform the day's objective while giving me insight into their thinking. They can be great links from one day's learning to the next, and with multiple classes, they help me keep the thread of the story of our learning from day to day. 

They are also a lot to manage.

A couple years back, I focused on mindfully using exit slips with my students to help me provide meaningful feedback and opportunities for us to re-engage in problems and deepen learning. As I played with some different tools, I narrowed down some go-to strategies that my students and I enjoy most.

1. Icon Feedback
As I read through exit slips, I naturally sorted them into piles based on some similarity (same strategy, similar error, etc.). Icon feedback built off of this practice, and I would assign a symbol to each set of similar exit slips. The next day, students would get theirs back and find their people with the same icon to form a group (often split into smaller groups due to massive class sizes). I would project a prompt next to each icon, and the group would work together to respond to that prompt, using their work as a conversation starter. This allowed groups to re-engage with their own work, and work with others who had similar thinking to dig deeper into the problem in some way. One example is below, but what I love about this is all the possibilities. You can also group students with very different thinking and apply their strategies to a new, related problem. The possibilities are endless.

I started class with a recap from the previous day's exit slips. Note: this was super early in the
school year, so notice that there was a lot of focus on HOW they completed it as well as content.

Then, we looked at the icon on their papers. The one they had matched the question that was on this slide. That was their focus when they met with their groups.

Once they had a chance to reflect they found a partner and acted on the feedback. We later moved to groups of 4, but the first few weeks I had them in pairs to get everyone talking in a time-efficient manner.

2. My Favorite No (or, "Whoa")
Inspired by this video from The Teaching Channel, I use student work to highlight common errors. I quickly sort the work into yes/no piles based on the answer or feature of the work I'm looking to highlight with the class. (I've done this real-time, and also done it the next day. I prefer the next day as part of our launch because it uses less class time and allows me to get it into a slide). Then, just like the video shows, we talk about what we like about the work, and how we could improve it. Language matters, so think about how you want to phrase this routine with your students - "error analysis," "my favorite no," "my favorite whoa" all have connotations I wasn't comfortable with, so I often introduced it as "analyzing awesome thinking". You know your students.  We would analyze it together, improve it, and come up with a polished product together. This was a great way to analyze common errors as well as explanations and vocabulary usage to let students see others' work and reflect on their own.

3. Re-Engagement Math Talk
Since math/number talks are a daily routine in my classroom, the structure provided a great space to use exit slips to create a prompt that used student thinking to spark conversation. My favorite prompt was simply, "Who do you agree with and why?" Sometimes both/all answers were correct, sometimes there was one that had a correct answer but no thinking where another had an incorrect answer but an awesome process. Another favorite prompt was "What's the same? What's different?" By putting up student work with these simple prompts, great conversations with takeaways I couldn't have planned for took place. On days when they fell flat, I would  Here are a couple of examples. 

As you can see from my top 3 strategies, there are a couple of things that matter to me when using student exit slips:
  1. Student thinking is the driving force of our discussions
  2. Students have the opportunity to re-engage with a problem they already worked with to dig deeper
  3. Prompts are non-threatening and promote discourse and reflection
  4. We wrap up some thinking about a problem as a shared experience with it
  5. The goal is to push thinking as well as model how we can share our thinking clearly and effectively
I'd love to hear feedback on how you use or plan to use exit slips in your classes, especially in virtual environments!

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