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Writing Across the Curriculum: Exit Tickets
teaching students to compose "exit tickets" as a formative assessment technique

Meet Bret Harrison, a middle school science, social studies, and special education teacher. In 2004, Bret wrote the following introduction to the first module in the Northern Nevada Writing Project's Writing Across the Curriculum Guide:

"Exit tickets are one of the best teaching strategies I've ever seen for getting students to immediately focus on the essential core content of lessons. They are particularly effective because they are designed to not only require the student to concentrate on the essential elements of a lesson, but then the students communicate succinctly using organized writing strategies.

"I primarily use the Exit Tickets as the strategy for assessing learning in Social Studies and Science lessons. In both cases, students are often introduced to new vocabulary, information and facts that are overwhelming. Since many of my students are classified as English Language Learners, finding a tool that requires them to read and communicate about the "essence" of the lesson is a critical learning objective, and the Exit Ticket fills the bill.

"At the heart of the Exit Ticket is an organized "hamburger" paragraph which contains a topic sentence, a minimum of three supporting details, and a concluding OR transitional sentence that leads to the next paragraph. By teaching the "hamburger" formula, my students were immediately empowered and began writing outstanding paragraphs in a matter of a few lessons. Evaluation became simpler for me, the teacher, as we employed peer grading and referred to a whole-class rubric for the first few lessons, teaching the students to recognize properly organized paragraphs and assess their own as well as peer work. Students who were struggling with basic paragraph writing were easily identified and received additional attention. Once paragraphs had been mastered, the transition to short essays was simple, and by the end of the term my students not only had some of the best writing in the school, but were clearly grasping more subject-matter content in Science and Social Studies, two subjects that traditionally intimidate and overwhelm ELL students."

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Additional Exit Ticket materials can be purchased from this website.

The Hamburger Paragraph Exit Ticket:

The four hamburger paragraph resources below come from the Northern Nevada Writing Project's 2004 print resource, The Writing Across the Curriculum Guide.

In December 2008, The Writing Across the Curriculum Guide was officially "retired" at the NNWP's Publication Page. The only way to obtain a copy of this out-of-print guide is to share an original Writing Across the Curriculum Resource for us to post here at the WritingFix website.

If you're interested in sharing a resource and earning a copy of the Writing Across the Curriculum Guide (or a copy of our Elementary or Secondary Writing Guides), please read the information on our Submission Guidelines Page.


Three Exit Ticket Variations Used in Northern Nevada:

Teaching Exit Tickets to Young Writers:

We meet a lot of teachers who feel that the hamburger paragraph is not the most authentic type of writing you can ask your students to write; in truth, you don't see a lot of hamburger paragraphs in real-world writing. Alas, hamburger paragraphs seem to be one of those school-only writing tools; I can't bad-mouth them myself, for they do help students who have little or no understanding of how to structure a paragraph.

We offer below three other structures for writing that we feel would work equally well as an "exit ticket" for student writers.

Exit Ticket Variation #1:

Important Book-inspired Exit Tickets.  These passages are similar to hamburger paragraphs but different enough so that students aren't aware they are still learning paragraph basics.  Look over our lesson on teaching students how to write Important Book Passages.  Once students understand the format, assign them to write these paragraphs at the end of lectures, at the end of note-taking sessions, at the end of chapter readings:  The important thing about the Battle of Gettysburg is...  The important thing about DNA is... The important thing about mean, median, and mode is...

Exit Ticket Variation #2:

Non-Linguistic Exit Tickets. As part of his Exit Tickets Across the Curriculum Workshop, Corbett Harrison created this new variation of an Exit Ticket that has become very popular in Northern Nevada. Robert Marzano's research (from Classroom Instruction that Works) discusses the importance of using more non-linguistic representations with students as a way to deepen their thinking, and Corbett's Non-Linguistic Exit Tickets require students to respond to an Exit Ticket question with two sentences and three non-linguistic representations.


(click on image to view this NL Exit Ticket in larger form)

Exit Ticket Variation #3:

Haiku Riddle Exit Tickets.  Respond to the heart of a lesson with just seventeen syllables or words!  Sounds easy, but it's not.  Look over our lesson on teaching students how to write Haiku Riddles.  Once students understand the format of a haiku, require them to be written at the end of lectures, note-taking sessions, or at the end of a chapter reading.

Northern Nevada teacher Johnna Ramos teaches Exit Tickets to her third graders. Here's how she uses them:

  1. Pose a question at the beginning of a lesson;
  2. Students will listen better to the lesson if they know the Exit Ticket question beforehand;
  3. Students must write a CR that answers the question to exit.
  4. Post baseline scores on a class chart (no names!) that shows how their first Exit Ticket CR went.
  5. Set a class goal with each new Exit Ticket question.

Here is Johnna's Ticket Out poster that hangs on her door early on in the school year. Her students attach Post-it® Note-sized template Exit Tickets to the poster on their way out to recess:

As the school year progresses, Johnna has her students learn to write Constructed Responses, which become more detailed formats for her third graders' Exit Tickets. Here is Johnna's interactive writing she does with her students to teach them how to create these longer and more detailed Exit Tickets.

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