Whether we’re going back to school in person or virtually or some combination of the two, I think we can all agree that our job from the start is two-fold: not only do we need to teach our content, but we need to teach our students to use the technology.  

A few years ago, I wrote about five simple ways to improve learning in every classroom using formative assessments and writing to learn strategies.  Today, I want to share some ideas for taking these same strategies digital.  Here’s how.  

Use Google Forms.  Google Forms are super easy to create, share, and evaluate–especially when they’re short, like these formative assessments should be.  You could quickly start a class with the “First Thoughts” or “KW” activity I recommended in my previous post.  If you’re teaching the class in person, project a QR Code to the form in your class and let your students use their devices to access/respond.  If you’re teaching virtually, post a link to the form and give your students a due date prior to when you plan to introduce them to the lesson.  You can scan the responses quickly and adjust your instruction as needed, according to the responses.  

As an exit slip, you can use the “What’s one thing you learned?” question to complete your KWL, or use one of my Space sentence starters.  Better yet, post the entire graphic and let the students choose the one that fits best with their understanding, like this. (Want your own copy? Use this link to create a copy for your Google Drive, then you can edit it and share it with your students.)  

Even the vocabulary idea works well in a Google Form.  Just list the words you’d like students to use in the question and let them write a paragraph as a response.  

A tip:  When using paragraph responses with Google Forms, you’ll want to adjust the spreadsheet columns so the text wraps within the columns for easier reviewing.  Here’s a 40-second video that shows you how to do this–it makes a world of difference.  

Google Slides or Docs Exit Slips.  As deft as our students are at typing on their phones, there may be times we want them to write more.  Or, we might like to have individual products that we can make comments on when we return to the students.  Quick exit slips using Google Slides and Docs work well for these purposes. They are easy to create on your own.  If you’ve created worksheets for your students in Word or PowerPoint, switching to Docs and Slides is cake.  The challenge comes in making them student- and teacher-friendly for completing and grading.  (A post on how to do this is coming soon!)  In the meantime, if you want to check out what I’ve done for inspiration or to take one thing off of your plate, here are a couple of options: 

In my original post, I shared my tried-and-true dollar-store-basket of exit slips, but I’ve got new versions for digital learning!  I created these Google Slide exit slips a few years ago and teachers have always loved them. During the first round of distance learning in the spring, I got even more positive feedback from teachers, both elementary and secondary.  They’re fully editable and adapt to any text or lesson.  Here’s a link to the free sample if you want to see how they work.  

English and reading teachers may be interested in my Reading Strategy Exit Slips.  These 12 exit slips are perfect for monitoring independent reading, class novels, or short stories.  Each is available as a printable exit slip and as a Google Doc–again, all editable! 

These strategies, in their digital forms, will help us help our students in two ways.  We’re introducing them to the digital tools they will need when/if we go to distance learning and we’re finding out important information through their responses that will guide our instruction–always the goal of formative assessment!  

Hopefully, too, you’ll find these strategies make the process of gathering this information a little easier for you.  There’s no reason we can’t use all these same tools when school-as-we-knew-it finally returns.    


This is the fourth post in my Making Lemonade series. Please follow this blog to be notified when I post more strategies and resources to make the 2020-21 school year the best it can be.

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