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November 11, 2015

While You Were Absent

By Rhonda Stewart
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    I consider myself to be fairly organized. My classroom has a sense of order and procedures. There are procedures for collecting homework, collecting and handing out materials, coming to the meeting area, dealing with emergencies, and even for lining up. My classroom has the appearance of a well-oiled machine.

    But there was something missing: What reliable system did I have in place when one of my students was absent? Normally when a student is absent, they check my teacher web page for the homework assignments, and for the most part that works. Now, classwork is a different story. In the past, I have tried placing the work in a bin for the students, or labeling the work for the student and placing it in a basket for them. These systems were okay, but not always dependable. Papers would often get misplaced or materials would not be set aside for the absent student. I knew that there had to be something out there that would work better. This dilemma prompted me to enlist the help of my students.

    Students get excited when they are able to take part in making beneficial changes to the classroom. To be honest, I am looking for my students to buy in. My thinking is if my students have a hand in creating the procedure, they are more likely to ensure its success. So after much deliberation, a system is ready to pilot in our classroom. The deciding factors were that it had to be highly visible to all in the classroom and easy to access. It is a mixture of what was previously used and some new ideas. Instead of the work just living in a bin or basket, it is placed in a folder. The responsibility of getting the missed work in is on the student. If assistance is needed with explaining the classwork, the student can check in with their reading or writing partner, peruse the anchor charts, and if needed, check in with the teacher.

     

    Next Steps: Putting it All Together 

    Location, Location, Location

    It was decided that the new system would live on the front table. This table houses our vocabulary notebooks and the attendance charts. Having the absentee system near the daily attendance sheet made so much sense. Once we knew who was absent, either the teacher or one of the students could place the work in the assigned folder.

     

    Appearance

    I love to use baskets and plastic milk crates to store materials in the classroom. Using a milk crate for this purpose made life easy. Being red made it really easy to identify. You cannot miss the bright red milk crate sitting on the table at the front of the room.

     

    Color Code

    I teach two literacy sections. Each section has a specific color as well as a student number to assist students with identifying where their work belongs in the classroom. This color-coding is extended to the absentee system. Students can identify their folder by their class color and student number.

    Easy to Recognize

    A labeled sign also serves as a reminder to pick up any work that may have been missed. I have added The Cat in the Hat characters to support the theme of our classroom.

     

    One of my colleagues, Diane Anderson, uses a similar system. She keeps an absentee binder and folder. Students are responsible for signing the sign-in sheet verifying that they have received and completed their work. The folder is where the students place their completed assignments.

    Mrs. Anderson's Absentee Binder Bin

     

    Mrs. Anderson's Absent Folder

    After seeing Mrs. Anderson's binder, I decided to add a Student Information sheet to my system. I wanted to have documentation that the student received the work. The excuse, I was absent no longer holds water and can be used during conferences with student and or parent for work accountability.

    Pearls of WisdomThis is a pearl that I am currently working on. It’s okay to help out your colleagues, but set boundaries. Make sure that you do not sacrifice your to-do list by taking on theirs. 

    Are there any tips that you successfully use in your classroom that help students keep up with the work that they missed? Please share! I love sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier.

     

    Also, here is a very exciting offer I am pleased to share with my readers from the Scholastic Store. Use the promo code in the coupon below and have fun!

    I consider myself to be fairly organized. My classroom has a sense of order and procedures. There are procedures for collecting homework, collecting and handing out materials, coming to the meeting area, dealing with emergencies, and even for lining up. My classroom has the appearance of a well-oiled machine.

    But there was something missing: What reliable system did I have in place when one of my students was absent? Normally when a student is absent, they check my teacher web page for the homework assignments, and for the most part that works. Now, classwork is a different story. In the past, I have tried placing the work in a bin for the students, or labeling the work for the student and placing it in a basket for them. These systems were okay, but not always dependable. Papers would often get misplaced or materials would not be set aside for the absent student. I knew that there had to be something out there that would work better. This dilemma prompted me to enlist the help of my students.

    Students get excited when they are able to take part in making beneficial changes to the classroom. To be honest, I am looking for my students to buy in. My thinking is if my students have a hand in creating the procedure, they are more likely to ensure its success. So after much deliberation, a system is ready to pilot in our classroom. The deciding factors were that it had to be highly visible to all in the classroom and easy to access. It is a mixture of what was previously used and some new ideas. Instead of the work just living in a bin or basket, it is placed in a folder. The responsibility of getting the missed work in is on the student. If assistance is needed with explaining the classwork, the student can check in with their reading or writing partner, peruse the anchor charts, and if needed, check in with the teacher.

     

    Next Steps: Putting it All Together 

    Location, Location, Location

    It was decided that the new system would live on the front table. This table houses our vocabulary notebooks and the attendance charts. Having the absentee system near the daily attendance sheet made so much sense. Once we knew who was absent, either the teacher or one of the students could place the work in the assigned folder.

     

    Appearance

    I love to use baskets and plastic milk crates to store materials in the classroom. Using a milk crate for this purpose made life easy. Being red made it really easy to identify. You cannot miss the bright red milk crate sitting on the table at the front of the room.

     

    Color Code

    I teach two literacy sections. Each section has a specific color as well as a student number to assist students with identifying where their work belongs in the classroom. This color-coding is extended to the absentee system. Students can identify their folder by their class color and student number.

    Easy to Recognize

    A labeled sign also serves as a reminder to pick up any work that may have been missed. I have added The Cat in the Hat characters to support the theme of our classroom.

     

    One of my colleagues, Diane Anderson, uses a similar system. She keeps an absentee binder and folder. Students are responsible for signing the sign-in sheet verifying that they have received and completed their work. The folder is where the students place their completed assignments.

    Mrs. Anderson's Absentee Binder Bin

     

    Mrs. Anderson's Absent Folder

    After seeing Mrs. Anderson's binder, I decided to add a Student Information sheet to my system. I wanted to have documentation that the student received the work. The excuse, I was absent no longer holds water and can be used during conferences with student and or parent for work accountability.

    Pearls of WisdomThis is a pearl that I am currently working on. It’s okay to help out your colleagues, but set boundaries. Make sure that you do not sacrifice your to-do list by taking on theirs. 

    Are there any tips that you successfully use in your classroom that help students keep up with the work that they missed? Please share! I love sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier.

     

    Also, here is a very exciting offer I am pleased to share with my readers from the Scholastic Store. Use the promo code in the coupon below and have fun!

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