Friday, March 8, 2013

Guest Post: Wild About Fifth Grade - Exit Slips

I am super excited to be a guest poster on All Things Upper Elementary.  My name is Melissa O'Bryan and I am the author of Wild About Fifth Grade.  I am also a workshop addict.   Any other workshop teachers here?  I absolutely love workshop - it is my passion.  I am constantly reading 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. We 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 March. 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.



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.

I've created exit slips for all of the units I've taught so far in math this year.  Math, science, and social studies are definitely the easiest areas to create and use exit slips.  But you can use them in reading and writing also.  If you're teaching summarizing, give all students the same summary task card, and have them summarize the selection.  Or if it's text structure, copy a page from an informational book and have students quickly determine and explain the text structure.  The possibilities are endless.  The key is creating them ahead of time to guide, organize, and inform your instruction.

So, 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.

Common Core Aligned Decimal Numbers Exit Slips FREEBIE
I would love to hear how you are already using exit slips in your classroom!!

Stop by and visit!
Wild About Fifth Grade
Melissa O'Bryan TPT Store
(Check out my store for more exit slips included in all of my math assessment packs)
Melissa O'Bryan on Pinterest







11 comments:

  1. Love this!! I am also a workshop teacher, and because of my obsession I started a linky- Workshop Wednesday! There is a different topic every Wed, you should totally come link up! :) Thanks for the freebies! :)
    Jivey
    ideas by jivey


    ReplyDelete
  2. Workshop Wednesday, I love it! Great idea! I will definitely link up. I'm glad to hear there are others as obsessed as I am.

    :)

    Melissa
    Wild About Fifth Grade

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love this post, Melissa! I use exit slips on a regular basis, but I like your ideas of planning them beforehand and having them ready!

    Jennifer

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  4. This is an excellent post. Thanks so much for confessing that your record book is often empty. Mine is as well! I have so much information about my students that I gather during workshop but not all of it is numerical. Exit slips are an excellent solution.
    Sarah
    MissKinBK A Fifth Grade Blog

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    Replies
    1. Worskhop and letter grades do not always mix well. I hope exit slips help you bridge the gap as much as they've helped me. And hopefully one day we'll all have standards based report cards and we won't have to worry any more..... :)

      Melissa

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  5. Thanks for guest posting, Melissa! I, too, am a firm believer in using exit AND entrance slips...I will often give a slip the next day to see what was retained overnight!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OOohhh an entrance slip, never thought of that. Great idea!! I'm going to try that out this week!

      Melissa
      Wild About Fifth Grade

      Delete
  6. What a great post! I love your ideas. Thanks so much for guest posting on ATUE! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a great post! I love the way you've taken the workshop model and still gotten the grades you need. Thanks for sharing a freebie, too!

    Jenny
    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

    ReplyDelete

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