Entrance and exits tickets in Drama

Entrance and exit tickets. Two simple concepts that can go a long way to helping your students learning. Use entrance tickets at the start of your lesson to help your students focus on what’s to come and use exit tickets to establish what they’ve learnt from the lesson.

Entry Tickets

Entry tickets are retrieval practice. They are the initial quiz done at the beginning of the lesson. But rather than make them a formal quiz make them more informal by handing them to the students as they enter. As the students enter the room they have the opportunity to think and consider the answers to the questions, even talk to their peers about them as they remove coats and bags. Make sure that the questions are answered in a sensible amount of time. I suggest to my students that they complete them before I finish taking the register, but you can take a more structured approach.

It is a retrieval exercise, so it works best when the questions are relevant to the knowledge they need to retrieve for the forthcoming lesson. It is also important for the questions to be accessible and not too hard for the students. The teacher talk and follow up questions will bring to the surface more complex knowledge.

Before the lesson moves on to the rest of the content, we must give a moment to go through the answers and use these questions as a form of formative assessment. Start by going through the answers to the questions, making sure that students self-correct their work through annotating their answers or re-writing where necessary.

Use this process as a diagnostic tool for the rest of the lesson. It is important that gaps in prior knowledge are addressed. This might be in teacher talk or further questioning at that moment in the lesson, it might mean that you need to reference that misunderstanding throughout the lesson or it might mean you need to reteach something completely.

My favourite is when you keep referring back to a misunderstood key term throughout the lesson. For example, when demonstrating a character you slip into it a quick reference to how moving the eye brows is a gesture, because “gestures are movements in any part of the body that communicate meaning to the audience and not just arm movements. And remember, that was one of the questions we struggled with in the entry ticket.”

Exit Tickets

Exit tickets are formative assessment. They are completed at the end of the lesson as students are leaving. They are a series of questions drawn from the content of the lesson you’ve just taught and are designed to gauge a rough understanding of your classes general level of comprehension.

This information will help you then make decisions about what happens next.

If your class are returning the exit tickets with poor understanding, then you need to revisit the content in your next lesson or convenient moment. There is obviously a need to reteach much of this material. This shouldn’t be seen as a negative because you have the opportunity to redress the issue.

If your class are returning exit tickets with a mixed response then you may need to revisit certain elements of the knowledge. You could intervene on a one-to-one level during the following lesson to secure understanding in those individuals. You could also schedule a refresher lesson on the subject for a few weeks’ time. Or you could set a homework that recaps on the material.

If your class are returning the exit tickets with secure answers, then it might be a case of moving on. It could also mean that there’s a need to increase the challenge.

Writing questions

The questions need to offer a level of challenge which is both accessible for the students and designed to formatively assess their level of understanding.

It could be tempting to ask a series of questions that simply focus on retrieving factual knowledge. Asking questions such as:

  1. What is a gesture?
  2. What does the key term stance mean?
  3. What does the key term posture mean?

But asking questions like this will only bring forth that factual knowledge whereas we know there are more types of knowledge than this. Conceptual knowledge and procedural knowledge are really important in Drama. So designing your questions so that they delve further than factual knowledge will help twofold. It will help your students access their memories to a greater depth but also help you not just gauge what they know but their level of understanding regarding that knowledge.

So those three questions from above become:

  1. What is a gesture?
  2. What does the key term stance mean?
  3. What does the key term posture mean?
  4. What gesture, stance and posture could you use to express a characters anger?
  5. Describe the gestures, stance and posture that Character A might use when shouting at Character B for suggesting that a job is worthless and it would be better just to go on the dole.

Can they be practical exercises?

Finally, do they have to be just written exercises? Well, short answer is no.

Long answer is that they need to be structured in a way to specifically demonstrate something and you need to be able to identify and record their level of understanding so that you can make a professional judgement of their level of understanding.

So where you might have asked the previous questions above, instead, students might receive an entry ticket that says:

  1. Get into a group of three. Discuss the definitions of the key terms: stance, posture and gesture.
  2. One of you is going to be the director, one of you Character A and one of you Character B. The Director is going to direct the two actors saying the following line from the play “…”. Establish what the motivation is for the character saying the line and how the other character is going to respond whilst the line is said.
  3. Act out the line using a minimum of three gestures between the two characters to communicate their motivations at that moment in time.

Doing these as practical exercises will just as quickly demonstrate to you a student’s level of understanding. But you do need to consider and address the following issues:

  • Doing them as practical activities rather than written responses takes more time.
  • Individual student answers are not as explicit as they are when written.
  • Individual student responses are more easily influenced by the peers they are working with, increasing the chances of a false positive response in their level of understanding.

These issues can be easily addressed and doing practical entry and exit tickets can be very worthwhile. However, it is good practice to have a mix of the two forms of entry and exit ticket.