Friday, 27 July 2018

Exit Strategies, My Mini Inquiry

Earlier in the year I posted about a mini inquiry about exit strategies. My previous HOD gave feedback from classroom observations that I had strong links to previous lessons but the the class needed endings, so suggested I look into exit strategies. Put simply, these are tools/cards/activities used to determine whether the students met the learning intention, what they are possibly uncertain about and shapes where the next lesson needs to go. Initially I wanted to focus on including exit strategies into my Year 12 Health class, as I am new to the class this year, but changed to my Year 10 Health class. The Seniors were completing Health Promotion projects so there was little teaching, and my Juniors only have Health once per week so I thought trying to have greater flow between lessons may help with lesson flow and remembering what they had learnt the previous week or two.

Strategy 1: Snowball 
Students were given two pieces of paper, on one they wrote something they had learnt that period and then threw it to the front of the room. On the other, they wrote a question they still had, then throw the paper to the back of the room. As each student left the class, I then gave them one of the questions a student had asked and as a homework task challenged them to research the question and email me with the answer. I shared all of the questions and answers as an intro to the next lesson, and could feel the pride some students had with the answers they had found.

As this was quite early into our sexuality unit, I knew some students weren't quite comfortable asking questions or sharing their answers in front of others, so that is why I led the Q&A. I think this strategy was effective for me to see what the students had taken away, and where they still had gaps. To be more effective though, greater student voice /sharing would have been ideal, so the information came from them rather than me. Therefore, I think using this strategy with older students, or a different unit would be most effective as students may feel more comfortable to share in front of their peers. I really liked giving the students questions from their friends though, as it really showed everyone was in the same learning boat.

Strategy 2: Paper Slide
One piece of paper was given to students this time, and they needed to explain one thing they had learnt that day. I asked students to give a little more detail than when they completed the Snowball task. As the students were exiting the class, they slid their piece of paper under my phone as I was filming, following one after the other. I then spent a short period of time adding some additional pictures/info into the video, which I showed to the students at the start of the next period. 

I really enjoyed this strategy, as it was not time consuming, there were an array of comments and it was such a simple thing to start discussions in the following lesson. By adding some pictures and music, it made it more like a short film, using the notes from the kids. In all honesty, I was in a flurry completing this, as I was short on time. So, in future with some more time, the Paper Slide could be even better with additional voice overs for example, to add further information onto the students comments.

Strategy 3: Traffic Light
Three different pieces of paper: red, orange, and green. Red = something still really confused or unsure about. Orange = something you have a question about. Green = something you completely understand. I collated all of these and read through them, to determine where everyone was at with their understanding. 

I was really happy to read many of the students had a good understanding of consent and contraception, which were two key topics in our unit. An observation I made from the reds (and a few oranges), was that several of the students struggled to identify what they didn't understand or wanted to know more information about. This made me think about how to encourage students to take note of things they are confused about, but also made me realise you don't know, what you don't know. 

This exit strategy was a little more time consuming than the others, and I feel that I didn't allow enough time for it. With maybe an additional 5 minutes, students may have been able to identify more gaps in their knowledge or ask questions for the reds and oranges. I also think this would have been easier to complete as a digital strategy, as well as saving a lot of paper! Gave me lots of things to think about though, and informed future lesson plans.

Strategy 4: Plickers
Unfortunately I ended up being unwell for the lessons I had planned to try Plickers with my class. I have used it before though, my blogpost is here.

Strategy 5: Whiteboard Quiz
Students were in small groups of 3-4, and each group was given a whiteboard. I asked a series of questions, each question worth a different amount of points. After I asked a question, the groups wrote their answer onto their whiteboard which they held up for me (and the rest of the class) to see. Points were given for correct answers, and the group with the most amount of points at the end won. 

Rather than using this as an exit strategy for one lesson, this quiz was an exit strategy for the whole unit. I loved this activity, as the students were super engaged (due to the competition), but there were also multiple teaching opportunities for me. Between each question I would explain the answer, and if more than one group were incorrect or confused, I would spend more time revising that topic. There were also lots of opportunities for students to respond, shifting the focus away from me (see a previous post here about several digital tools for opportunities to respond). Even though this strategy couldn't be used for solo lessons (possibly for a double period), it was fantastic for an end of topic strategy.

Overall I really enjoyed my inquiry into exit strategies last term. I was surprised how different they all were, and how they informed my teaching. The feedback from the different strategies effected the way future lessons went, and gave great flow between lessons. Some of them were time consuming to prepare and follow up with, but if students had completed it before, the strategy may not take as long. Moving forward I am unsure what my next mini inquiry will be - I would like to have an observation to get some feedback about where to go next, watch this space!