Monday, February 12, 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.

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