Writing Across the Curriculum Teaching Circle

Entrance and Exit Slips

Entrance and exit slips are a way to ease students into writing ... and, in the course of writing a sentence or two, reveal what they think about a topic, materials, or teaching strategies.

  • Entrance slips, completed at the start of class, reveal what students think about the topic, materials or strategy before experiencing the class.
  • Exit slips, completed at the end of class, express what they think about the topic, materials or strategy after experiencing the class.

Entrance and exit slips link existing knowledge with new learning and stimulate critical thinking. The questions on the slips are designed to be answered in five minutes or less. Whether signed or anonymous, the slips can be an effective way to assess student understanding of a concept and expose where clarification is needed.
—Tony Curtis, Mass Communications e-mail

An Entrance and Exit Slip Exercise

This short writing exercise turned out differently than expected.

As the students entered my Editorial Writing class on Sept. 22, 2004, I passed out an entrance slip asking them to think and compose three sentences in five minutes:

Entrance Slip
JRN 309 – Fall 2004
Name ____________________ Date __________
Please write an answer to this question in 3 complete sentences:
What protects an editorial writer who criticizes the President of the United States?

The students then read Associated Press stories from different places across the United States about the Secret Service questioning or arresting four Americans who were protesting the presidency of George W. Bush.

Next, the students acted as a newspaper editorial board and tried to determine a position the paper might take on its editorial page. During their discussions, students verbalized the impact the articles had on their individual opinions.

As the students departed at the end of class, I passed out an exit slip asking them again to write three sentences in five minutes:

Exit Slip
JRN 309 – Fall 2004
Name ____________________ Date __________
Please write an answer to this question in 3 complete sentences:
What protects an editorial writer who criticizes the President of the United States?

Pairs of written responses were received from 17 students. The three-sentence comments they composed were varied and interesting.

Results
  Entrance Exit
First Amendment 15 13
US Constitution 2 2
Not Sure 0 2

As they entered, 15 of 17 knew from discussions in earlier class meetings that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects an editorial writer. As they departed, two said they no longer were sure. Their writing made it clear they had come to see the Secret Service as more powerful than the Constitution.