Exit Tickets: How to Spice Them Up

One of the questions I always pose to teachers is this:  If you're going to teach a lesson and not give the students an exit ticket or a way to assess what they learned during the lesson, then what was the point of teaching the lesson in the first place?  It's truly important that we're taking data points throughout the students' learning process to be able to tweak our instruction to best fit their needs and to be able to individualize instruction as much as we can for our students.  If we're waiting until the assessment to 'see' how our students are doing, it's too late!  Exit tickets are a vital part of the learning process, but I promise you - they don't have to be boring!  Here are a few, fun ways that you can spice up your exit tickets without any extra work!  

exit ticket

Leave Your Exit Tickets Open Ended

exit tickets     Many times, we like to give very specific problems or questions for our students to answer on an exit ticket, which is fine - but one way to really spice up your exit tickets is to give them an open-ended question about the topic that you're assessing and see what they can really do with it.  You'll get a lot more information about the overall level of understanding of the topic/concept by doing this as well as a glimpse into their understanding of vocabulary that's involved in the lesson as well.  One of my favorite open-ended exit tickets to give is my "What's your Tip?" question!

     This is a fun exit ticket because it allows the strengths of each child to be seen on the exit ticket and in their own, unique way.  Students get to decide on how and what they want their 'tip' to be!  Then, when you're reviewing the next day (after you've collected the exit tickets, you can use these 'tips' as a way to review and begin your next lesson!  You can even use them to help pair up students with similar or opposite strengths!  Check out this great post for more ideas on "What to do with your exit tickets AFTER you've given them!"

Let Students Create the Exit Ticket Question

     Another fun way to spice up your exit tickets is to have students be the ones who create the questions that you ask throughout the week.  Yep!  Let them do it!  Here's how it works:  After the first or second lesson, as you exit ticket for the day, have the students create at least one question or as many as they can think of (within a time limit of course) that relates to the topic/concept you're teaching.  Have them write them down on scrap paper or post-it notes - no need to type anything up!  These questions tell you a LOT about the students' levels of understanding.  Then throughout the week, you can use these questions when conversing with your students during the lesson or even USE them as the exit ticket question itself.  Students get a KICK when they realize the exit ticket question came from them!  It's another open-ended strategy but it's a fun one!

Self-Differentiate Your Exit Tickets

Yes, you read that right.  And no, it's not hard!  It's how the saying goes... We differentiate our lessons
Exit Ticket
but then we turn around and give them all the same assessment.  How is that fair?  I know it's needed now and then, but not every single day.  Differentiation in your exit tickets is just as important as differentiation in your lesson.  Need a unique and easy way to do this without creating 4-5 different exit tickets for your entire class?  Embed the differentiation into the exit ticket itself!

     Here's how this can work!  Make a tic-tac-toe board with a wide range of questions or problems to solve on it.  Each column is a different 'level' or difficulty of a question.  Put the easy questions on the left, the on level questions in the middle, and then the harder questions on the right.  Then when you give the exit tickets, the students have to choose three squares to solve.  They can choose to do all three in one level or they can do a diagonal and get one of each.  OR you can assign students to do a specific level (which I don't do very often).  You'll find that when you explain the levels and have students reflect on their true ability and level of confidence in the concept, they pick the right column to solve on their own.

So the next time you're sitting down to plan out your lessons, make sure you think about how you're going to assess the students on what they picked up that day.  Remember, it doesn't have to be anything long or crazy - one simple question will do!  But do yourself a favor and do it!  You'll be amazed at how much your lessons and questions will shift when you have data to back it up!  And now you have some fun and unique ways to really spice up your exit tickets, too!  

Are you interested in some of the Exit Ticket Templates that you saw today?  You don't need any of mine to do the fun ideas that you read about, but if you'd like to grab these Editable Exit Ticket Templates, you can!  

exit ticket

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exit ticket

Context Clue Strategies for Elementary Teachers

     If you had to list out some of the obstacles that our young readers face when trying to comprehend a text, I bet you would write things like:  fluency, decoding words, knowing sight words, and understanding vocabulary.  Those are all huge factors that impact our students' abilities to understand what they read.  Over the years, I've found that when we teach these concepts, we cannot teach them in isolation but instead we must be constantly referring to and modeling how and why to use strategies to get over these hurdles.  Today, I'm going to walk you through some of my context clue strategies to use when teaching elementary students!

Context Clue Strategies for Elementary Teachers

#1:  Understanding the POWER of Context Clues

Students need to understand the POWER behind what context clues truly are before they are asked to look for and use them.  they need to know how context clues can completely help and change their perspectives on what they are reading without them even try or realizing it.  Once they know and see this power, they will be more interested in actually using this skill.

Here's how I show them this:

     Give them a simple sentence like:  "Joy got a b____."  Have them create a quick list of words that could fit that blank that start with the letter 'B'.  Then give them a second version of the sentence:  "Joy got a b____ for her birthday."  Again, add to or change the list of words that the 'B' word could be.  Then give them the final sentence:  "Joy got a b____ for her birthday.  It had a horn on the front and a basket on the back."  With these sentences, aka context clues, students now know the exact word that fills the sentences and they know it because of the context around the word. 

#2:  Where should they LOOK for the Context Clues

I teach my students where, minimally, they need to read to look for context clues when they come to an unknown word.  we use this phrase: "Read 3 around me - before, during, and after!"  Students use little hand motions for the quick rhyme and it helps them to remember that they need to read the three sentences around the unknown word.  They read the sentence before the unknown word, the sentence during (the sentence where the unknown word is), and the sentence after the unknown word.  This gives them a starting place to look for context clues rather than looking all over the text or book.  So again:  "Read 3 around me - before, during and after!"

#3: Teach the TYPES of context clues with your students.

"Context clues" is actually a large concept - there are many different types of context clues that when students know about and look for, they are looking for more specific words or types of words rather than jut taking a shot in the dark.  I teach my students to look for context clues like:  the definition, synonyms and antonyms, examples, and inferences.  Knowing these and seeing lots of examples of these help them to break down the concept of context clues and have a more concrete understanding what they are looking for. 

You can grab these FREE Context Clue anchor chart pieces in my Teachers Pay Teachers store to help teach the different types of context clues with your students! 

Context Clue Strategies for Elementary Teachers

The best thing to do is to make sure you are always showing students the power behind using context clues and how they can help them become a better reader.  I hope these context clue strategies were helpful! 

If you're looking for some amazing and engaging activities to help focus on context clues - definitely check out my "Talk Like A" ... series!  There's one for each month of the year and students just LOVE to learn how to talk like the different characters!  They are perfect for centers, small group, or even a whole group mini lesson!  

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Context Clue Strategies for Elementary Teachers

Lesson Planning for Teaching Reading Strategies in Elementary

Teaching comprehension is hard!  Let's face it.  We have 20 - 30 students who all have completely different reading ranges, strengths, and levels of understanding on a wide variety of reading strategies.  And we're expected to come in and just teach them how to understand complex texts?  Umm, ok!  Throughout my years in 2nd and 3rd grade, I was able to fail and fail often.  Often enough to where I finally figured out a formula that truly works when teaching comprehension to my students and I've got it all here for you!  If you're struggling with lesson planning for teaching reading strategies in elementary, stick around!

Lesson Planning for Teaching reading Strategies in Elementary

You're sitting down at your desk with all of the resources you have to teach the skill or strategy for next week.  You flip through them to refresh your brain about what you have or hop onto Teachers Pay Teachers to do some searching.  Then you open your lesson plan book and just start plugging away.  I'll do this activity on Monday, this one on Tuesday, and I'll do this in my small group - yep - this looks good!

Are you actually THINKING through how and why you're doing each lesson or activity?  Should each lesson build upon one another?  How are you assessing your students throughout the week to tweak the lessons as you go?  There's got to be a better way!

And there is!  I'm calling it "Building Comprehension" because from my experience, that's truly what it does!  When using these 'steps' to plan out your week of reading comprehension lessons, you will find that you get better results and even better, a deeper understanding of the strategies and independent application to the students' own reading!

Are you intrigued yet?  Let's keep going!

I mentioned that when you use these 'steps', you get results.  Let's start there.  When I plan out my
week of reading comprehension lessons, I don't just plug & chug activities here and there.  There's a 
Lesson Planning for Teaching reading Strategies in Elementary
true formula to it.  Each day of the week has a specific 'purpose' or angle of how I approach the objective we are working on.  On Monday, we 'Expose'.  On Tuesday, we 'Analyze'.  On Wednesday, we 'Evaluate'.  On Thursday, we 'Prepare'.  And on Friday we 'Apply'.

Many teachers make the mistake of jumping straight into the APPLY step on Monday.  If you're just now introducing Main Idea (for example) - WHY are you asking them to find the main idea on the FIRST DAY?  It's like jumping into the deep end of the pool when they don't know how to swim yet.  If you truly want them to understand how to swim - aka - KNOW and USE the strategies we're teaching them, then we have to break it apart. Look at them from different angles and lenses.  Watch, listen, observe, decide, and finally try it!  That's what these steps are all about.

So let's talk about each step and what they are about.  I'm going to break each of the 'Steps' down below and explain what it means and what we're doing on that day of the week.  Remember, the steps must stay in this order!

Monday: Expose

     This is the 1st step to teaching any comprehension skill or strategy.  Here, we showcase the completed strategy to students asking very little of them except for their understanding of the definition of the strategy.  Students are simply becoming EXPOSED to the strategy as a whole while watching the process being modeled, and answering simple questions.  Many times - vocabulary is a heavy part of this day's focus as well.

Tuesday:  Analyze

     This is the 2nd step to teaching any comprehension skill or strategy.  Here, we are again allowing students to see the completed strategy but asking them to analyze what is going on.  What are the pieces involved in the strategy?  What is the sequence involved?  How is the reader accomplishing the strategy?  Allowing students to pick apart the completed strategy in order to better understand it.

Wednesday:  Evaluate

     This is the 3rd step to teaching any comprehension skill or strategy.  Here we have allowed students to see and analyze the strategy.  Now, let's have them evaluate by providing strong and weak examples.  What's going right or wrong?  What changes should be made?  How could the example be improved?  What steps are missing?

Thursday:  Prepare

     This is the 4th step to teaching any comprehension skill or strategy.  Here, we are allowing students to begin to complete the strategy themselves.  Students are given a partially completed strategy where they must evaluate what's been done for them and finish the strategy themselves.  This allows them practice applying the strategy without the full application process and still some support.

Friday:  Apply

     This is the 5th and finally step to teaching any comprehension skill or strategy.  Here, we are allowing students to fully complete the strategy independently or with a cooperative group.  Students complete the strategy without support from beginning to end of the strategy using what they have learned from this process.

So what does all of this do for our students?  TONS!  It allows EACH student, regardless of their level of reading to completely understand the strategy from top to bottom.  This will then allow them to be able to APPLY the strategy to their own reading level, whether they are a struggling reader or advanced reader.  It allows the teacher to back into teaching the reading strategy from different approaches and angles rather than just trying to apply, apply, and apply the strategy over and over and expecting different results.

When you use this 'Building Comprehension' method, you are building the strategy from the ground up - giving the student a solid foundation to stand on and you know that they have a firm grasp on the concept of the strategy and they can apply it when needed.

This is the method of teaching I have used in my own classroom for many years and the results are truly unbreakable.  The conversations we have in the classroom about a text is deep,  it's rigorous, and it's meaningful.  My students can tell you how and why to use specific reading strategies regardless of what reading level they are at.

Like I said, I know that teaching comprehension is hard and I hope this information was helpful (maybe a bit overwhelming, but helpful none the less)!  But I have something that just might help!  I've put together all of this information about 'Building Comprehension' and a few extra goodies and created the Ultimate Comprehension Toolkit!  And even better - it's FREE!  It includes this information as well as 3 scope & sequences, over 60 comprehension discussion cards, engagement strategies, exit tickets, a mentor text list and MORE!  Grab it below for FREE!

Grab your Ultimate Comprehension Toolkit!

Just enter your info and it's all yours!  

    And if you want the cherry on top - I have an even bigger surprise!  ALL of my 'Building Comprehension' units are designed in this EXACT format - meaning they follow all of the steps you just read about.  If you want results, engagement, and time saved on planning out your lesson plans - this is your answer!  You can take a close look at them in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

    Lesson Planning for Teaching reading Strategies in Elementary

    So lesson planning for teaching reading strategies in elementary doesn't have to be painful!  You've got this!  

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    Lesson Planning for Teaching reading Strategies in Elementary

    5 Ways to Help Students Show Thankfulness in the Classroom

    November is such a wonderful month for so many reasons.  Christmas is just around the corner, fall is in full swing, s'mores and campfires blazing all across the country.  But in November, some much more special happens - we take time to express out gratitude towards the things we are thankful for.  We spend time sharing our thanks with others and encouraging others to do the same.  This includes the classroom!  What better way to make November something special for your students, than by taking time to practice showing thankfulness for all they are thankful for!  Check out these 5 unique ways to help students show thankfulness in the classroom!

    3 Second Conversations

    Taking time to talk to your students about what they are thankful doesn't have to be a huge ordeal!  It could take you 3 seconds each day, per student just to talk to them about something they are thankful for.  Try this - Place a large, laminated turkey outside of your door.  Each day, write on it a 'topic' (food, person, place, object, etc).  Then in the mornings in November, stand outside your door to greet your students in the morning.  Have them read the topic and tell you something they are thankful for that relates to the topic.  Like this.. "Good morning Josh!  Give me a food you're thankful for!"  'I'm thankful for pizza because it's so delicious!'  "That's a great one, Josh!".  See?  Three seconds!  

    Build a Thankful Tree

    Your students have so much to be thankful for!  Why not put it all together in one big display for everyone to see!  On a large poster/anchor chart/bulletin board (your choice) make a large, bare tree!  Call it "Our Thankful Tree".  Then cut out small leaf cutouts and place them in a centralized location.  Allow students at appropriate times to fill out leaves of things they are thankful for and place the leaves on the tree throughout the month of November to see their thankfulness grow!  It makes a super fun display.  Don't worry about filling it all right at the beginning - let it grow naturally throughout the month!  

    Thankful From A-Z

    As adults, we make lists - grocery, to do lists, honey do lists, etc.  Students love to mimic this!  Why not let them with this unique Thankful List using all of the letters of the alphabet!?  Give each student a piece of paper with the letters A through Z written on them.  Then have them come up with something that starts with each letter of the alphabet that they are thankful for.  It could be a person, a place, an object, anything!  They can share these with partners, compare lists, display them in the classroom, and so much more!  Want to extend it more?  Have them pick ONE of the letters in their list to write more about.  These make great writing journal prompts or early finishers in writing class!  

    Make a Thankful Jar

    Don't have time to make a big tree?  No problem - you can
    still use the same idea, but this time in a very compact way!  Find a small jar or container that you already have laying around your classroom and slap a (cute) sign on it and call it your "Thankful Jar"!  Lay out scraps of paper for students to write out things that they are thankful for at appropriate times throughout the day.  Then either when the jar is filled OR at the end of the week (whichever you prefer) go through the jar together as a class, reading all of the papers out loud.  What things do people have in common that they are thankful for?  What differences are there?  This makes a perfect community circle activity during the month of November too!  

    Make a Mini Book

    What better outlet to show our thankfulness than to write about it?  Get your students writing about things that they are thankful for by writing and making little mini books!  You can make these simply but cutting a piece of printer paper into quarters and stapling them together, or even just folding them.  Doesn't have to be anything fancy!  But students DO love making a fun book - just wait and see!  Have the students illustrate on each page something they are thankful for and then below it write what it is and WHY they are thankful for that item.  Encourage them to think outside of the box - more than just people and places.  What actions are they thankful for?  What are they thankful for in themselves?  The possibilities are endless!

    Want to grab all of these thankfulness printables for *F*R*E*E?  Just enter your name and home email address below to get them ALL straight to your inbox!  

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    November Read Alouds Your Class Will Love

         One of the best parts about teaching is getting to read out loud to students!  The look on students' faces when the plot thickens, the relationships they build with characters..  It all brings joy to teachers everywhere.  November is a fantastic month to share unique and meaningful read alouds to students.  I have gathered six of my FAVORITE November read alouds that your class will LOVE!  Come dive in with me and find one (or two!) new favorites for yourself as well!

    November Read Alouds

    (This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that Amazon sends me a little pocket change, at no cost to you, if you purchase through one of these links. This helps keep my site running and funds giveaways for you!)

    Thanksgiving Read Alouds:

    Balloons Over Broadway is an adorable Thanksgiving story that takes students back to the beginning of the traditional Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  We read and learn about Tony Sarg, the inventor of the helium filled balloons that make the parade a unique and traditional event every Thanksgiving and how the parade first came to be. 

    Thanksgiving in the Woods is the PERFECT book to read to your students and discuss Thanksgiving traditions.  The story is about a large family who gathers every Thanksgiving with many of their extended family and friends to a Thanksgiving feast in the woods.  They work together to cook, decorate, and suit up for the cold weather, all to enjoy a huge feast, fun, and celebration together.  Students will absolutely relate to this beautifully illustrated read aloud in many unique ways!  Definitely a must read for every classroom!

    Election Day Read Alouds:

    Monster Needs Your Vote is an absolutely adorable and funny read aloud that even primary students can listen to and understand about how and why voting is an important and fundamental human right.  Follow Monster and the narrator (a little boy) along their journey of trying to explain the voting and election process.  Monster wants to vote, but he's not yet 18.  So he decides to run for a position and finds out that there's so much that goes into a campaign.  Simple language, broken down ideas, and beautiful illustrations help truly make this read perfect for any elementary class!

    Today on Election Day takes you on a journey with many different elementary age students and their families on Election Day.  Follow characters to the voting polls, helping family members run for office, voting for the first time and so much more!  This amazing read aloud truly helps break down the entire process that goes into such a monumental day for our country.  It also helps students bring out different perspectives and connections that they might have experienced with their families on Election Day!

    Veteran's Day Read Alouds:

    The poppy flower has forever been the symbol of honoring and remembering veterans from our country.  But do you know why?  The Poppy Lady is a beautifully written story that tells about Moina Belle Michael, a school teacher from the World War 1 era who was saddened when her students, friends, and family were sent out to fight.  She felt like she needed to do something to help share her appreciation with for these brave men.  She established the red poppy as the official symbol of remembrance for all veterans.  The Poppy Lady is beautifully written and illustrated and students can see how one small effort can make a big difference!  

    Grandad Bud is the perfect story for our current generation to help learn about Veteran's Day.  In the story, we follow a young school age boy who's great grandfather has been invited into the classroom to speak to them about Veteran's Day.  The young boy is unsure of what to expect on his grandfather's visit.  He ponders about what the true meaning of Veteran's Day is and soon, along side his entire class, finds out.  

    I hope this helped you find a new November read aloud!  If you'd like to save this post for later, feel free to pin the image below!  Happy November!

    November Read Alouds

    I've Given an Exit Ticket, Now What Do I Do? (& a FREEBIE!)

    Exit tickets are one of my non-negotiable when it comes to something that I have to have in every single one of my lessons.  If you teach a lesson and don't give an exit ticket, what was the point of teaching that lesson?  What data did you collect and how do you know what to do next? Yes, you might be able to gather some qualitative data, but to truly know what the students know, you need to give an exit ticket!  So now that I've convinced you, what do you do AFTER you've given an exit ticket?  There are so many amazing ways to use Exit Tickets!  Keep reading to learn just a few fun idea on what to do after you've given an exit ticket!

    Need some fresh ideas on how to use Exit Tickets in your Math or ELA lessons?  Read this article with loads of ideas for elementary teachers on how to use exit tickets after they've been given.  You can even download your FREE printable exit ticket sorting mat templates to help organize the exit tickets after they've been collected.  Exit tickets help make student learning more focused and achievable!  Come read about how you can collect the data but use it in unique ways too!

    #1 - Use them to help your students reflect on their learning

    When you've given a short exit ticket, you've just collected a student's thinking and what better way to collect that data than to also collect their thinking about HOW they did on the exit ticket or HOW they feel on the content itself.  Having students reflect on their exit tickets is a simple way to get the students' opinions about where they are in their learning journey.  You can do this in a lot of ways:  When turning in exit tickets you can have them sort them into a specific tub or folder based on their level of understanding, you can have them rate themselves (using a Marzano's scale perhaps) and write their number in the corner of their exit ticket, or you can simply have them draw a smiley face on their exit ticket next to their name to show how they feel.  Use this time and allow students to reflect on their learning when you give them an exit ticket!

    #2 - Identify the most common misconceptions 

    After you've given an exit ticket, you now have all of this data in your hands.  Don't just check them and throw them away or give them back.  You need to USE the data!  Here's what you can do:  Go through each exit ticket that had a mistake on it and write down all of the errors that students are making.  If you find repeats, then just put a tally next to them.  When you're done, look at your list and identify the top three misconceptions that students made on their exit ticket.  Now here's what's best - Take that list and write it on the front board the next day (or next lesson) for the students.  Number them #1 -3 and pass back the exit tickets to the students.  Have them analyze their exit ticket and match the mistake they made to the misconception on the board.  If their mistake matches have them write the number on their exit ticket.  This just became their goal for today's lesson.  This is now their focus to fix and work on and improve.  We've now taken this data and given it back to them and put the learning into their hands.  So powerful & meaningful!

    #3 - Use them to group students

    Make grouping students more practical and quicker with this easy strategy.  As you're grading your exit tickets, label them.  Make a key for yourself so you don't forget.  (Example - square = high, triangle = average, circle = low).  Write a shape (or whatever you decide to label) on their exit tickets.  Then when you give them back at the next lesson you can easily have them form mixed ability groups, like ability groups, pair up high/low, etc.  This makes your grouping much faster and more strategic!  

    Want a printable FULL of amazing ideas on how to use Exit Tickets AND some exit ticket sorting mats?  Subscribe below and they are all yours!
    Need some fresh ideas on how to use Exit Tickets in your Math or ELA lessons?  Read this article with loads of ideas for elementary teachers on how to use exit tickets after they've been given.  You can even download your FREE printable exit ticket sorting mat templates to help organize the exit tickets after they've been collected.  Exit tickets help make student learning more focused and achievable!  Come read about how you can collect the data but use it in unique ways too!

    #4 - Conduct 'Error Analysis'

    Students are going to make mistakes on their exit tickets, so let's use these mistakes to our advantage!  Gather up all of the 'incorrect' exit tickets and at the start of your next lesson, anonymously place an exit ticket under your document camera and showcase this as your 'favorite mistake'.  Ask students why it's your favorite mistake.  What mistake do they see?  How can we fix it?  You can repeat this process with 1-3 exit tickets depending on time.  You can have students fix the error collaboratively as well to get them talking right at the beginning of the lesson.  

    #5 - Conduct mini conferences

    Again, so much data at your finger tips but don't be selfish and keep it to yourself!  Since your exit tickets are short and sweet (no more than 3-4 quick questions), going over them individually with students shouldn't take long either.  I like to keep a pile of them on my desk (if I'm not using them for another reason like mentioned above) and I have mini conferences with these students at very random times.  Why not take them with me when standing in the hallway waiting on students to use the restroom?  I can easily have a talk with 1-2 students about their exit ticket, how they did and what they need to improve on.  Or what about when you're waiting on students to get coats and book bags to line up to go home or go to lunch?  There's 2 minutes you can talk with someone about their exit ticket too!  You'd be surprised how many mini conferences you can squeeze in when your conversation is focused around a short exit ticket!

    There are MANY more ideas where these came from.  Just subscribe by the photo above to grab your printable idea list & exit ticket sorting mats!  

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    Need some fresh ideas on how to use Exit Tickets in your Math or ELA lessons?  Read this article with loads of ideas for elementary teachers on how to use exit tickets after they've been given.  You can even download your FREE printable exit ticket sorting mat templates to help organize the exit tickets after they've been collected.  Exit tickets help make student learning more focused and achievable!  Come read about how you can collect the data but use it in unique ways too!

    Need some fresh ideas on how to use Exit Tickets in your Math or ELA lessons?  Read this article with loads of ideas for elementary teachers on how to use exit tickets after they've been given.  You can even download your FREE printable exit ticket sorting mat templates to help organize the exit tickets after they've been collected.  Exit tickets help make student learning more focused and achievable!  Come read about how you can collect the data but use it in unique ways too!

    Best Practices Needed in Every Lesson!

    Best practices are called so because they have been proven to get results.  But knowing that there are LOTS of them, is it realistic to ask that a teacher to have every possible best practice in every one of their lessons?  No!  It's possible, yes, but definitely not realistic to ask of a teacher.  Teachers need to figure out which best practices work for them and get the best results for their class and focus on those!  However, in my opinion, there are a few best practices needed in every lesson, no matter what!  Today, let's break down that list of must have best practices and talk about why they are non-negotiable.

    So many best practices and don't know where to start?  This article helps break down 5 best practices needed in every lesson.  These are my non-negotiable for every lesson that help get the best results academically from my students.  Grab your FREE printable list of best practices to help you narrow down what you can and should be focusing on in your own classroom!

    #1 Best Practice - Always have an objective

    Objectives are the goal of the lesson or what you're focusing on.  It's very important for students to know and understand specifically what I'm focusing on when teaching.  The more specific you can get with your objective, the better.  I also try to make sure my objective is written out visually and stated to them verbally throughout the lesson.  Even having students state the objective with you to get them more involved helps too!  Another reason an objective is so important is that it creates a muscle memory connection of actually DOING the activity along with the objective itself.  So as students are practicing the content and hearing the objective being stated - they are connecting the two together in hopes that when they hear those words (objective) again they will remember how to complete the problem or questions from before.  Many times teachers assume that students know what they are practicing on - stop assuming and focus on having a specific objective for every lesson!

    #2 Best Practice - Always have an anchor chart

    Whether it's something you created in 5 minutes with clipart from Google or something you took time on and used your beautiful lettering skills (jealous!) - have some sort of visual or anchor chart for every lesson that you do!  You are going to reach more students who have different learning styles by doing so.  Also having an anchor chart helps students anchor their learning to the chart itself.  Best practice is to make the anchor chart WITH your students, but I know that that's not always an option.  An anchor chart helps create a visual reminder for whatever the content is and the more you use it with your students and refer to it throughout your lesson, it's engraining the content and learning in their minds in hopes that when they aren't near the anchor chart but discussing the content, the visual is engrained in their minds to use in the future!

    #3 Best Practice - Model during your lessons

    By modeling I mean that you are completing a problem or a question from beginning until end for your students without their help.  Make sure you're not having your students help you during the model.  Students need to hear your thinking to solve the problem or question from the beginning until the end to know what they should be doing when solving the problem on their own.  All of the questions and interactions in the middle hurts their understanding the concept and puts it into pieces.  You can break it down later, but when modeling at the beginning it needs to be uninterrupted modeling.  Ask yourself questions out loud so the students know what kinds of questions to be asking themselves when they are solving independently.

    Overwhelmed by which best practices there are and where to start?  Download this amazing and *F*R*E*E* list of best practices and start by checking off what you're already strong at.  Then look at what's left and you know what you can focus on and where you can grow!  This comprehensive list of best practice is great to keep when lesson planning and use to think about how to best reach your students!

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      So many best practices and don't know where to start?  This article helps break down 5 best practices needed in every lesson.  These are my non-negotiable for every lesson that help get the best results academically from my students.  Grab your FREE printable list of best practices to help you narrow down what you can and should be focusing on in your own classroom!

      #4 Best Practice - Collaboration

      In every lesson, there needs to be an opportunity to collaborate with other students, not just with the teacher.  This needs to be MORE than just a turn and talk!  At the end of a lesson if you can stop and ask yourself "Did I talk more than the students?" and if you answered 'Yes' to that - there's a problem!  We need to make sure they are talking more than us!  We need to make sure we are giving them the opportunity to have time to process the content and their thinking without the teacher being involved.  When you're allowing them time to collaborate with one another then they are being time to process.  Whatever guided practice or independent work they are doing, just make sure they have time to talk and process with others!  Need help getting your students to collaborate?  I have an amazing post all about building a culture of collaboration!

      #5 Best Practice - Make sure you have an exit ticket

      Having an exit ticket is CRUCIAL!  If you do a lesson and don't collect data at the end of that lesson - then why did you teach the lesson in the first place?  You need to make sure that at some point you're collecting data from your lesson.  It can be as simple as having them whisper an answer to you, write on a post it note, have a 1/4 sheet of paper ready with 1-2 questions.  No more than 3-4 questions tops!  Make sure you have SOMETHING!  When you do that you're getting that data from your students, you have grouping strategies you can use, you know what misconceptions your students having and where to go on your next lesson.  There are so many amazing ways to use exit tickets and their data!  These are so powerful and we need to be utilizing that power in the best way possible!

      Too much to read at once?  Try pinning this post for later!  

      So many best practices and don't know where to start?  This article helps break down 5 best practices needed in every lesson.  These are my non-negotiable for every lesson that help get the best results academically from my students.  Grab your FREE printable list of best practices to help you narrow down what you can and should be focusing on in your own classroom!

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