One of the most important skills we teach our students is writing. It's important I know my students' writing ability when they walk into my classroom, BUT I don't want to intimidate them with an in-class essay right away.
How can I find out their writing skill level without asking them to write an essay? I've used this simple exit slip on the first day of school for years. While it's only three questions, this short exit slip shows me their experiences/skills with writing, goals for the year, and a bit of their personality. Believe it or not, most kids are honest with me :)
I use the exit slips to plan the focus of writing assignments for the course and use them for student reflections at the end of the school year.
Hope you find it useful!