Pretests and Exit Slips – Learning about Their Learning

By: Mary Kienstra on: October 29, 2014  in: assessment, differentiation, Engagement

What did I ever do without pretests and exit slips?  These great formative tools are now some of the most important parts of the lesson.

What do my students already know?  What do they need to learn?  Do they know it now?

Pretests and exit slips are part of my expanded list of formative assessments.  These quick indicators  help me plan  instruction and form differentiated groups.  They are quick to take and easy to check, yet full of information.  Many times the pretests and exit slips are a few problems from a worksheet or a lesson.

A pretest at the beginning of the unit or start of a lesson can show  immediately who knows the skill already and who has yet to learn it.   I  can separate my students into strategy groups based on what they need to learn by using a quick diagnostic pretest.    My students are familiar with pretests now and they don’t worry if they don’t know the concept.  I’ve modeled by saying, “You haven’t  mastered that YET.”

An exit slip at the end of a lesson or series of lessons shows very quickly who knows the concept now and who needs more help.  Sometimes when students are working in pairs during class, I can be misled to think that everyone knows what to do.  I expect them to rely on each other as they work in class, but a quick exit slip where each student has to work alone shows me exactly who has mastered it.  Typically, this quick check helps me form my groups for the next day.

Using quick formative assessments as part of my instruction helps me to differentiate my instruction for each learner.  Since I have a better understanding of each student’s strengths and weaknesses, I can plan instruction to challenge each accordingly.  I don’t spend too much time on these quick assessments, but they truly have changed the way I approach each lesson.  These quick assessments have helped me learn about my students’ learning.


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