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An exit bin

2014/04/05

In the category of “I am really proud of this idea, but I don’t know how useful it is for others,” I am sharing a recent addition to my classroom: an exit slip bin, otherwise known as “the exit box” or “the blue bin” or simply “the bin.”

Exit slips are a great way to gauge immediate understanding of a concept. They don’t test long-term retention, and so it’s not a cure-all, but often at the end of class I give out slips of paper for students to complete a short exercise or critical thinking problem to test their understanding of the day’s concepts and objectives.  (As an aside, I’ve also become a recent fan of “welcome slips” in addition to the warm-up — especially for a concept that might be a week or two old just to see if they truly “get it”).

So back to my exit slips: my main issue with these is always collection. I’m often squeezing these into the last 1-4 minutes of class, and so sometimes not everyone is finishing, leading to a general panic among the students about what to do with them or how to hand them in. I tried :

  • having them leave them on their desks (only if there was a break or my prep right afterward)
  • having one person in each 4-person group collect them, but this unfairly holds this person back from getting to their next destination. Even if it’s only a half-minute, this perceived difference can be frustrating to the student
  • standing by the door and having them hand them to me on their way out. But it’s such a rush to get out the door that I’m having students give them to me upside down, backwards, etc., to where I find myself grabbing at quarter sheets of paper as if I’m juggling balls of jello.

I really want is to take 60-120 seconds, give a quick “+”, “1/2” or “0” to all the slips to see if they learned (and if I taught!). It helps me to know if where I hope to start the next day is appropriate or not.  I am – admittedly – not very organized naturally, and so I have to work pretty hard to keep on top of paperwork.  If I don’t do this right, it just becomes one more type of paper to accumulate in my classroom.

Enter “the idea.”

 

I took a small blue bin ($1 from the Dollar Tree), and right near the door I secured it to the wall with 3 screws.

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Now they were set.

The next day I tried it out, and had all the classes just drop their slips into the bin on their way out.

Easy as pi(e).

A couple modifications I’ve made since then:

  • I put a custom-fit portion of a manila folder inside the bin so that I don’t have to scrape the last few sheets off the bottom; I can just grab the folder out when I’m ready to take the slips.
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  • I put a small colored slip of paper on top of the stack after each class dismisses so I can easily segregate the slips by period at the end of the day – or any time sooner that I want to access them.
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Now I can just grab the folder and go.  By designing the right kind of problem, I can get through the whole stack (~120-140 sheets) in under 5 minutes.  It provides excellent feedback as well as helpful direction for the next day’s lessons.

Many of my quizzes are on half-sheets of paper, so “the bin” also works well for this size of paper.

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