Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Classroom Organization: Managing Student Absences

In my 'Organization in the Secondary Classroom' series, I've written about how I manage the paperwork in my classroom (this post has been viewed an incredible 81,000+ times) and how I tackle lesson planning. Today I'm sharing how I manage student absences!

*Update: Due to multiple requests, the two forms I use that are mentioned in this post can be downloaded and amended to meet your specific needs here.

In a perfect world, none of my students would be absent, but between sickness, field trips, in-school detentions, and plain old 'don't feel like coming to school', it's rare to go a day without having at least one absent student. Before implementing this system, the biggest struggles when dealing with absences was finding an efficient way for students to be responsible for getting the work they missed without the frantic 'what did I miss' just as the rest of the class is getting started on the day's lesson. I've used the following system for several years now and it has worked really well!

First, I have a three-ring binder with dividers for each class period. At the start of every week, I make copies of class rosters and place them in the appropriate sections. Although I always take electronic attendance for the school, I also mark down absences on these paper rosters for my own records. I then record the date and a brief note about the lesson done that period, particularly what was due and what was assigned for homework.

I find it incredibly helpful to be able to pull out this binder and cross reference the dates certain assignments were due or assigned with when particular students were absent. Technically the electronic grade book we use can do this, but it's far more cumbersome to look up information online rather than quickly open my binder. I also use these attendance sheets to record if a student came in tardy, went to the nurse, or any other miscellaneous information. My binder sits on the table in the front of my classroom where I can easily make notes.

Next, either at the end of each class period or at the end of the school day, I look back through my attendance binder and put together the handouts from that day's lesson and a 'cover sheet' that explains what was missed.  I use the cover sheet to record the work that was due the day the student was absent and whether or not they missed a quiz/exam/activity that needs to be made up.

Then the handouts/cover sheets are placed in the 'absent work bin' which is on table in the corner of my classroom. Students know that when they return from an absence, they are to go straight to this bin at the start of class and find their work in the hanging folder labeled with their class period. They read the cover sheet and/or the handouts left for them and then check in with me if they have any questions.

Classroom Organization Student Absences

If the student has in fact missed an assessment or activity that needs to be made up, they fill out their name, activity to be made up, and when they are coming in for make-up on the clip board next to the 'absent work' bin.  This helps me keep track of when certain students are coming in so I can arrange my schedule and holds the student accountable for making up missing assignments in a timely manner. You can download a copy of the sign up sheet I use here and amend it to fit your needs.

Once I've explained the purpose and expectations regarding the 'absent work' bin, my students seem to do very well with the autonomy of this system. They can go check the box between classes, at the start of their class period, or really any time that's convenient for them! I've really loved how my attendance binder has allowed me to easily keep track of important data I need readily at my fingertips!

I'd love to know what sorts of ways you've found to keep track of student absences so please leave a comment below or connect with me on Facebook or Instagram!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sewing Project: Plaid Tunic Dress

It's been snowing A LOT here in New England which inevitably means lots of snow days and canceled plans. Subsequently, I've been working on little crafty projects around the house including tackling various sewing projects. Enter the Josephine Pattern...

I've used this really versatile pattern from Made By Rae once before but chose to do a tunic length this time around. What's great about this pattern is that there are options for garment length, bust size, and sleeve type, making it easy to create a variety of differing garments that fit lots of body types. Because I'm short, the tunic length worked well as a dress on me! I used a super soft linen/flannel cotton fabric from JoAnn's.

The pleats on the front as well as the gathered sleeves are fun pattern details. I also like how the elastic casing in the back gives a nice fitted look around the waist. This is a good pattern to try if you are an 'advanced beginner' who's looking to stretch your sewing skills as the directions are well written and easy to follow! I'll probably make another one with a light-weight cotton for Spring...assuming Spring actually comes to New England sometime in the near future!