Assessing at the end of a lesson
Happy equinox. While day and night compete for glory across the hemispheres, we dig further into responsive teaching by considering the humble exit ticket…
Big idea 🍉
Responsive teaching entails regularly checking for understanding, in valid and efficient ways. But when exactly should we do it?
Well, the more often we check for understanding, the more accurate our course-correction can be (because student understanding is always in flux). But equally, the more often we check for understanding, the less time we make available for learning.
As a result, it’s prudent to check for understanding judiciously—at the most critical points during the lesson.
Perhaps the most obvious critical point is just after we've explained something and just before we set our students off on independent practice.
But another equally important point is at the end of the lesson. We may well have covered everything, and our students may well have been working hard, but these proxies don’t always help us confidently infer what has been learnt.
Checks for understanding at the end of a lesson are often referred to as ‘exit tickets’. Exit tickets can take a wide variety of forms, but typically they (A) attempt to assess the main learning intentions of the lesson, (B) reasonably quickly, and (C) in a way that provides useful data for making course-corrections to future lessons.
For example, I might give my students two minutes to answer 3 multi-choice questions (or a single open-ended question), on their own, on a sticky note which they hand to me as they walk out of the classroom.
In contrast to in-lesson assessment, exit tickets provide us with greater time to analyse student answers. For example, when I go to plan my next lesson, I can begin by grouping tickets from the previous lesson into various piles (such as correct vs mistakes vs misconceptions), and then organise part of my teaching around the results.
Note → Exit tickets don't need to be marked and returned. If everyone answers correctly, I can move on. If there were some common mistakes or misconceptions, I can tackle these with the whole class… or even move on and target select individuals.
Bonus → Designing an exit ticket as part of your planning is a great way to get crystal clarity on the most important things you want your students to learn.
Caveat → Exit tickets are not great for summative assessment. They only give us a thin and fleeting slice what our students have grasped during a lesson. They cannot tell us if students have learnt in ways they will be able to remember and transfer without all the contextual 'cues' of the lesson.
Challenge → How regularly do you check for understanding at the end of lessons? How might you tweak your approach to allow for even better course correction?
Little links 🥕
On trend → This week we have an experiment on social comparisons in class (aka what happens when all your peers put their hands up), an analysis of the (unhelpful) link between school competitiveness and belonging, and a study on the (positive) effects of an early language programme by the EEF.
Bonus → Evidence-Based Education are hosting a webinar on ‘de-implementation’ with Dylan Wiliam on 9 Oct @ 4pm BST. Sign up here.
PS. Teaser… for those of you interested in taking your evidence informed journey to the next level… Snacks PRO ✨ is coming! More info next week.