Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Taking Attendance

I never used to take attendance in class. Wait, that's not true. I never used to call out names and wait for "here". Never. Ever! It felt like a waste of precious time, so I skipped it. I'd check visually and move on to beginning class...until this year.

Opening a new school, I promised myself that I'd make changes, grow, and try new things. Flexible seating was something I'm trying this year (and loving, by the way), but with flexible seating came a new problem. I couldn't do a quick visual check to see who's here and who's absent because they are changing seats every day. Attendance. UGH! 

Then I thought, how can I make attendance valuable time in class? The Attendance Question was born! I am not the creator of this idea, but I must say I'm LOVING the daily attendance question. Why? First, it gives me the opportunity to learn names because I'm saying each name, every single class. Second, an unexpected bonus is that it builds community. We all answer the same question (and if you are in my classroom, you are expected to answer it too). The question often sparks some debate or discussion amongst students. Finally, it's an additional idea for our notebook journey that begins our instructional time together. I've seen many notebook entries that have been inspired by our attendance question. 

My favorite part of this process is the unexpected answers that I get from my sixth-graders. I'm learning that I make assumptions about my students because I'm often surprised at the creativity and thoughtfulness of their answers to a simple question. Here's an example, last week our question was "If you could go anywhere, where would you like to go?" It was a student submitted question. As I was typing it into the slideshow, I felt disappointed because I thought it would be a round of the beach and Disney. Nope. Some of the answers included: my grandma's house, home, the stone age (hahaha), and even heaven.
I loved the answers so much, I asked them to jot down their answers on a chart. 

These students are thoughtful and creative and brave to reveal these answers. Yesterday's question instigated some arguments...chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter.

The conversations that were shared...the memories, the inspiration for writing. Attendance. It's become a favorite way to begin our time together. 

Here's our question for today, what would your answer be? 

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.


  1. I love this idea! Stealing it to use with my seventh graders today!

  2. Such a simple change led to great stories and connections! Brave you for embracing "new" and the "what happens when I integrate a question with attendance?" question! I can hear the conversation! If I could relive a day in my past, it was the moment, 2 weeks ago, when my daughters dance team was named national finalists in Orlando. To witness high school girls bursting with joy alongside their coach was a sight to behold! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Great idea! A day I'd like to repeat? The day I got married; it went by in such a blur, I feel like I would pay more attention to the small moments if I had a chance to revisit it.

  4. Love the question of the day! There's nothing better than a warm chocolate chip cookie--unless it's a peanut butter one :) . We have a custodian who brings warm cookies to school once a month. He makes a peanut butter with mini M&M's. Now those are amazing!

  5. I love this idea! Your kids must look forward to class every day. What will the question be today? I can hear the buzz in the hall before they walk in. A day I would repeat would be my daughters' weddings. Those days went by so fast and I wish I could repeat the joy and love we all felt.

  6. Wonderful idea. The day I would like to repeat is the day I last spoke with my Grandpa in person. He has passed away & I wish I had spent more time listening to him rather & responding to his needs.

  7. This is such a great idea, not just to take attendance but to get a conversation going, to help the students build connections by seeing them may have something in common, and so much more.

    P.S. I am a new Slicer. I posted my very first Slice of Life on my blog. :)

    A Turtle is a Boy's Best Friend

  8. I love this. I do community circles with a question. BUT I think mixing it up with time to write a response would allow for those who need time to think and/or are better at expressing themselves in writing would be a nice addition. Thanks for this great work.


Please share your thoughts. I love comments!