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Going beyond the Exit Card: 10 easy to use reflection strategies

We get it. Having some sort of closure activity as part of the learning process is important. Teachers use this sort of immediate information to measure student understanding, monitor student questions, and collect feedback on instruction. For students, closure activities serve as a content review at the end of a daily lesson and enhance their meta-cognitive skills.

But we’ve all been there. You and your kids get so hooked into an activity or lesson that you lose track of time. You look up and there’s a minute left of class. Students are throwing their stuff in backpacks, the bell rings, and off they go without a chance to think about their thinking. Or worse, we fail to intentionally plan for any sort of reflection or meta-cognition to happen.

And while we understand at the intellectual level that we need to have some sort of closure after and during learning, it can be too easy to blow it off if we’re busy or if you’ve done the Exit Card thing just too many times.

So what are some alternatives to the Exit Card? Give these a try. Feel free to adapt as needed.

One quick suggestion before we get to the list. Students need to know what the reflection activity is supposed to do. I don’t think we explain the “why” of things enough with our kids. Let them know that your knowing how well they understand what is being taught or difficulties they may be having helps you make adjustments to ensure their success. It seems like a little thing but this generation works better when they know the reason for doing something.

On with the list!

1. Kahoot
This is a quick and easy way to gather lots of data using a free, game-like tool. Trust me. Once you and your kids start down this path, plan on using it a lot.

2. Digital Media
Go beyond the typical paper and pencil Exit Card with digital versions. Matt Levinson put together a short list of possible options:

  • A six-second Vine video to capture the most critical six seconds of class
  • A 16-second video to post to MixBit, YouTube’s new video sharing tool
  • A tweet that boils down the essence of the class to 140 characters
  • A photo illustrating the key learning moment that can then be posted on a class Instagram account
  • A question posted to a class Edmodo account inviting a continuation of the learning outside of class

3. Postcards
Have students write a postcard to an absent student explaining the day’s key concepts. Require an image or graphic.

4. Quick Draw for Points
Students sketch or draw concepts they learned from the lesson using just images. Keeping track of their work with a simple point system gives you some quick and easy formative feedback.

5. Gallery Walk
Ask students to create a graphic organizer or infographic to represent their learning. Students then post these around the room providing the chance to view different visual representations of understanding. Leave them up until the next class period and ask students to create paragraphs that summarize someone else’s image.

6. Opinion Chart
Have kids list opinions about the content in the left column of a T-chart and support their opinions in the right column. Perfect for having kids summarize primary or secondary evidence on a specific topic.

7. Compare and Contrast
Another way for kids to reflect and for you to gather formative assessment info as they analyze primary source evidence is to ask students to identify the theory or main idea the primary source is advancing. They then must identify an opposite theory. What are the similarities and differences between these ideas?

8. Evidence-Based Terms
Our kids need a lot of practice using evidence and creating arguments. A simple and fast way to support these practices, provide opportunity for reflection, and get feedback all at the same time is by using evidence-based terms. Be sure to have some visible examples of evidence-based terms around the room and have kids use at least one to summarize a document, direct instruction, video clip, or small group learning.

9. Tic Tac Tell
This reflection tool is very simple to implement but it has a lot of potential for adapting to different grade levels, content, and complexity. The focus of Tic Tac Tell is to provide a quick and easy way for kids to interact with vocabulary words.

10. Muddy Moment
Ask students to describe specific frustrations and ideas that confuses them about the text, lecture, or instruction. Make sure to require that they explain why their frustrated.

I’d love to hear what works for you. What reflection activity works every time in your classroom?

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. #

    Glenn can’t thank you enough for all the hard work you put into your blog. I look forward to every post and I can’t tell you how much you have helped my curriculum!

    Thank you,


    September 28, 2015
    • glennw #

      Thanks so much for the kind words! Glad you’re finding some useful stuff.

      Have a great week!


      September 28, 2015

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