Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

TECHNIQUE #25 & 26:  At Bats & Exit Ticket

mlutTechnique #25: Vocabulary lists, Handwriting, Multiplication tables, Typing, Conjugation of verbs etc., rote memorization of essential, fundamental skills; the stuff that mastery is made of.  At Bats : ‘…Give your students lots and lots of practice mastering knowledge or skills’.  A former department chair of mine consistently emphasized (and we really did get sick of hearing the word), the need to “recycle” information within our foreign language classrooms; we were frequently asked to give evidence as to how we were recycling content.  As a team, we were required to give a minimum number of “door quizzes” every week.  This is the inverse of the Exit Ticket, which I’ll return to in this post as technique #26.   Lemov sums the up the critical need for mastery of fundamental skills toward the ability to integrate information into a larger scope of problem solving and higher order thinking.

“Sometimes obvious truths are the best ones….It’s muscle memory, It’s repetition.  It’s At Bats…Repetition is the key because [the student] will have the most brainpower left over to engage in problem solving in the moment… When skills are refined to automaticity, all faculties are available to focus on how to respond to the critical and unexpected event.”, (p.188)¹.

chalkboard-small-things16Implementing At Bats:

  • Develop “repetition worksheets”:  repetitive, timed practice for, example, multiplication tables
  • Mini-computer lab stations:  have software readily available for students to practice basic skills of any content area, geography website, spelling bee app, rote conjugation practice, etc.
  • Door quizzes:  for entry into the classroom, student demonstrate quick knowledge of basic facts/material.
  • Create a conjugation board:  a site where subject pronouns are permanently in place

Any combination of these work nicely into stations or a rotating series of tasks, with the goal of practicing skills already presented and “previously learned” in a particular lesson or unit.  “…on a busy day, repetition is the first thing to go.  We teach all the way to the part where students ingrain the skill, we run out of time, we stop.”¹


TECHNIQUE #26:  Exit Ticket

ticketI love this suggestion almost as much as Do Now.  Exit Ticket:  End each class with an explicit assessment of your objective, one that you can use to evaluate your (and your students’) success.  Exit Ticket is actually the inverse of what I describe above as a ‘Door Quiz‘, which you could label as an Entrance Ticket.  Upon entering our foreign language classrooms, I would be waited outside of the classroom door and students would form a single file line.  I would ask each student a simple basic question, in the target language, (a vocabulary word, a verb conjugation or a simple translation), if the student answered correctly, they entered the classroom.  If the response was incorrect they cued themselves up at the end of the line and were given another attempt to answer the entrance ticket question correctly, up to three attempts.  Students attempts were recorded, at the door in a grade book and these door quizzes happened at least 3 days/week.    It was great objective data, easily tracked and made for a lot of student accountability.

Here’s a pretty comprehensive video and blog post from with a fantastic set of links to Exit Ticket samples for all grade levels!

I have been observing, in a Reading class in particular, the use of Exit Ticket at the middle school level.  An easel with large paper listed the current vocabulary unit words, with out definitions.  Students were asked to volunteer to define a word, verbally.  Upon doing so correctly, they were given a small sticker to place by the word and were allowed to begin packing up to leave.  Another day, a simple worksheet was given to the students; containing blank boxes.  Student were expected to copy notes from the board of the day’s lesson, show it to the teacher, it was quickly reviewed; pending exit ticket approval, it was placed in the student’s folder.  Exit ticket should be:

  • Quick: one to three questions
  • Tactile: hand written response, sticker placement
  • Designed to yield data:  objective ?’s, clear cut responses
  • Varied format
  • Easily converted into tomorrows Do Now

Not always agreeing completely with everything Teach Like a Champion 2.0¹ has to offer, story016I don’t feel that exit tickets should always be hand written/pencil to paper.  The video above from Edutopia, featuring Hampton High School, PA’s use of Exit Tickets, presents a variety of online applications, (e.g, Poll Everything, Google forms, text book online mini quizzes, etc.) that, at the secondary level could prove quite effective.

Here is a selection of exceptional prompts for Exit Ticket from The Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, Brown University. (

Some possible prompts or questions to use for the “ticket to leave”:

  • Name one important thing you learned in class today.
  • What did you think was accomplished by the small group activity we did today?
  • Write/ask one question about today’s content—something that has left your
  • puzzled.
  • Today’s lesson had three objectives (These would have been shared at the
  • beginning of class and should still be available for referencing.), which of the
  • three do you think was most successfully reached?  Explain.  Or, which was not
  • attained?  Why do you think it was not?
  • Read this problem… and tell me what your first step would be in solving it.
  • One of the goals of this class is to have all participants contribute to the seminar. 
  • How well do you think this was achieved today?
  • Do you have any suggestions for how today’s class could have been improved?
  • I used the blackboard extensively today.  Was its organization and content helpful
  • to you in learning?  Why or why not?
  • Which of the readings you did for class today was most helpful in preparing you
  • for the lesson?  Why?
  • We did a concept map activity in class today.  Was this a useful learning activity for you?  Why or why not?

rrrI did combine these final two techniques from Chapter 5/Lesson structure, as they both drive at what I believe to be the meat & potatoes of moving toward Mastery from Understanding; with basic skills comes repetition, rote memorization, recycle, recycle, recycle!







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