Saturday, 08 October 2011 17:45

Ticket to Lunch (Teaching Tip #44)

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The “Ticket to Lunch” strategy offers a quick, easy way to assess students informally. Though it is called “Ticket to Lunch,” this idea can also be used before recess, at the end of the school day, or any other time when students are about to leave the classroom.

Imagine my kids and I have been practicing the skill of alphabetizing. After a couple days of skill work, I want to assess student proficiency, but I don’t want to administer a quiz or do anything that requires us to use a lot of time or paper. I just want something quick. So, a few minutes before lunch, I give each child an index card and write a series of words on the board. The students then write the words on the card in alphabetical order and hand me the card as they exit the room. Of course, the students put their names on the cards, as well.

It takes me only a minute to flip through the cards to see how my students are progressing with this skill. If only a small number of children are struggling with this concept, I will follow up with them, either individually or in a small group. If a large portion of my class is struggling, I will continue to build skill practice into my daily, whole-class “word work” that comes at the end of Reading Workshop.

Another alternative is to have students alphabetize their words on individual whiteboards at the end of “word work.” When every child is finished with the activity, the kids hold the whiteboards under their chins as I scan the room. The advantage of this alternative is that we are saving paper, but the disadvantage is that sometimes it is difficult to look at everyone’s board and identify who is having difficulty with the skill while everyone is sitting there waiting. Plus, because the index cards do not get erased as the whiteboards do, it is easier to follow up on the original student work and diagnose specific mistakes with the index card approach.

In closing, Ticket to Lunch provides valuable feedback that informs my instruction in a matter of minutes.

New Teaching Tips appear every Sunday of the school year.