When a lesson comes to an end, and students gather up their things and head on out the door, there are days when I ask myself, Did they really get the lesson? What happened there? The hectic nature of an hour (or even two, if you are lucky to have the class for two subjects) with middle schoolers can leave any teacher with a little uncertainty as to how much the students are really engaging and really learning. One tool that I have found to be effective is the "ticket out the door". This is a quick formative assessment that can give a teacher some feedback on just about anything they want to know. One that I used recently was "Reflection on My Writing"- The questions were "What am I doing well at?" and "What do I need to work on?" This not only assessed what the students were thinking in terms of their writing, but also how they were doing with the language of writing. I wanted to know if they were able to recognize and use 6 Traits language such as conventions, transitions, style, detail, organization. Some students were able to express their strengths and next steps using the language, others said things like, "I wrote a whole page", or "I write good ending sentences". There was one student who wrote "nothing" as his strength - which clearly reflected his low engagement and therefore low confidence in writing- a good heads up for me.
In my experience, the "ticket out" is a good way to invest the last 5 minutes or so of class. It provides a reflective closure for the students, gives me some quick feedback, and provides a good starting point for the next day. Once the practice is in place, and students become comfortable with it, the "truth" really surfaces and the feedback, although not always rosy, is invaluable.
Post courtesy of Andrea Devito