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Are Attendance Questions the Best Secondary Teaching Secret?

Are Attendance Questions the Best Secondary Teaching Secret?

For months I been given plenty of Remind texts from pupils with shots of waffle fries. I saved a selection of images from the Barbie Instagram on my phone. I have acquired (and returned) a number of pairs of sneakers.

All since of my most beloved teaching apply: the attendance concern.

During on the net teaching, I commenced tweeting about my day-to-day attendance queries (or AQs), and it remains a person of the subjects I’m most regularly tagged in on Twitter, primarily this time of calendar year, as academics find inspiration and new things to do to check out. 

Though I’m not the creator of the thought of employing attendance concerns in course, more than time I’ve refined how the AQ is utilized in my classroom. I’ve appear up with ingenious techniques to continue to keep the issues participating, unexpected, and best of all, generators of some of the most unforgettable (and hysterical) discussions we have all calendar year lengthy. If you are seeking for a surefire, fully absolutely free, and endlessly entertaining way to get to know and remain related with your college students via the faculty calendar year, the attendance query is just the resource.

What is an attendance query anyway?

Merely place, the day-to-day attendance issue is a minimal-stakes concern presented to college students at the starting of just about every course, typically all around the time attendance is taken. It’s not very an icebreaker, not particularly a do-now or a heat-up, but much more of a conversation starter and a delicate marker that our finding out time has started. Imagine of it as a tender opening just before we start out the “real” function of learning. For secondary students, it fulfills the functionality of morning meeting in elementary college.

Mainly because of what it’s developed to do, it’s vital to carry out the AQ routinely. (In fact, in the unusual cases I’ve overlooked to article one, the little ones turn into irate and scold me to get my act alongside one another.) Quite swiftly, it turns into a predictable and welcome regimen that the children be expecting and glance ahead to each day.

How do you use them?

There’s any variety of probable strategies instructors can use to introduce the AQ every working day. My colleague Paul would have each and every college student verbally share out their response to the AQ as their identify was identified as during attendance. His rationale for that solution was that no subject what, this ensured that every baby experienced spoken aloud and experienced their voice heard in class each and every day. 

At the beginning of course each day, I publish the AQ on the landing web page of our understanding administration process (in my district, we use Schoology if you had been making use of Google Classroom, for instance, the AQ may get posted into the stream). This technique will work perfectly for a handful of distinct reasons: It enables me to embed visuals that could aid the concern it lets college students to submit a composed reaction alternatively than talk up if they are much more reserved and (this one’s a minimal sneaky) it assists put together the young children for the relaxation of course by making sure they’ve now bought their devices and our course Schoology web page open up right before instruction starts. 

The moment the question is posted, learners style their responses though I acquire attendance. I’ll study out answers, talk to specified college students for additional element, or trace at how other courses responded to the exact issue to motivate competitors. I constantly take part with the learners and share my respond to as perfectly, but I allow them reply to start with. I joke that if I shared my reaction very first, it may possibly impact theirs, but truly it’s so I can see which way the responses lean and come to a decision how to formulate my response to generate further more dialogue or to optimize controversy and drama.

The important is coming up with a fantastic attendance issue!

Both the high-quality and variety of the attendance problem are significant to continue to keep little ones participating. Some frequently shared attendance concerns have been utilised so a lot of instances that they are no extended new and debatable (believe: “Is a hot canine a sandwich?”) and some (e.g., “What’s your beloved coloration?” or “Pizza or tacos?”) are just a bit way too restricted to keep the kids’ interest if the inquiries adhere to the identical sample just about every working day. I’ve discovered that mixing up the format of the concern, together with visuals and possibilities in which feasible, and locating approaches to make the attendance questions truly feel individually geared to the class all support to hold participation lively. 

I arrive up with most of the AQs I use myself occasionally I borrow from other folks or adapt some from social media that translate properly to the AQ format. At the time you’ve created a way of curating possible attendance dilemma product, you’ll see that in authentic lifetime and on the web, there are countless possibilities for inspiration. Below are some AQs I have used in the past, broken into broad types, and how I come across inspiration for new attendance issues every single calendar year.

A should: AQs with visual choices

I love to give students a collage of visuals and inquire them to tag by themselves or pick 1 of the supplied selections. This lowers the barrier for participation and requires some of the tension off of coming up with a unique reaction. Including these issues into the combine keeps participation degrees high and delivers simple opt-ins for all learners.

This was final year’s AQ on the initial day of school, encouraged by a excursion to a Florida aquarium: “Tag oneself: Which dolphin are you?” (I was naturally Nefario.)

A dolphin-related attendance question used by teacher Jessica Kirkland

You can differ your inquiries for seasons: (“Which jack-o’-lantern are you?”)

Example of pumpkin-related attendance question from a teacher

Or in response to a college student remarking the working day just before that they’d under no circumstances heard of a Furby: (“You’re a Furby now. Tag your self.”)

Example of Furby Attendance Question

A single of the most common AQs I posted final university yr was “Which previous-college mobile cell phone need to occur again?” With a myriad of choices to select from and debate, this design of attendance question can often make heated discussion, with participants defending their own responses or debating one particular another’s preferences, and lead to an additional of my most loved whole-course functions: the Google look for-turned-wormhole.

Example of cell phones used as attendance question

AQs centered on present-day traits/subject areas

Even though it is crucial to have a selection of evergreen alternatives for individuals days when you’re sensation much less motivated (click below for my list!), at times an AQ predicated on a existing subject matter is the dialogue-starter you’re seeking for. When the Satisfied Gala took place in September 2021, I utilized the above-the-major costumes to generate a “Choose your Satisfied Gala fighter” AQ with celebrities who had been recognizable to the college students:

Example of Met Gala attendance question

Likewise, the (seemingly) innocuous question of “Are there additional doorways or wheels in the earth?” was all above TikTok’s FYP final spring. When I utilized this concern in class, students had pre-produced evidence and assertions all all set to go to again up their positions. For college students who may possibly not be informed of these trends, the questions may perhaps lack that added context but are nevertheless simply obtainable and fun to take part in discussing.

The clincher: AQs individually personalized to the class

Essential to include in the rotation are attendance issues that use to your own individual context. These questions ensure that the everyday exercise of the attendance query doesn’t come to feel like an anonymous activity culled from a pre-produced record of concerns: The prospects of who or what can be the matter of the attendance query are dynamic and at any time-evolving. These are the thoughts that children keep in mind most and are at the coronary heart of the total apply: We’re carrying out this as a way to join with a single another. 

In the previous, I’ve finished this by posting two truths and a lie and having the youngsters detect the lie (as a reward, you can question student volunteers to guest-star and submit their individual two truths and a lie for their friends to puzzle over). I have asked “Which college drill is the best school drill?” and “Why does my arm come to feel like that?” When the duck that lays her eggs in our faculty courtyard returned this spring, one particular AQ asked the kids to guess how many eggs she was hatching. Notably, I’ve invited the college students to weigh in on no matter if I should preserve or return trend purchases built in the middle of the night time.

Attendance question about shoes

Student responses to an attendance question about shoes

Just one of my ninth graders this past faculty yr experienced a habit of having selfies on my telephone anytime I remaining it out. At the time I’d amassed a sizable assortment, I requested each course to select which of his selfies was their most loved. Not only did he appreciate getting the target of the attendance dilemma, the learners got to see a glimpse of what other courses apart from theirs are like and the associations that go further than the boundaries of a classroom.

Tweet from Jessica Kirkland regarding selfie attendance question

Supplemental Helpful Ideas

  • Be mindful to make sure that the attendance issue doesn’t seek or desire much too a great deal vulnerability. They are engaged as a team and obvious for all. Attendance queries should not rely on learners sharing just about anything they could look at as well personal or delicate.
  • Flip a typical dilemma to shake issues up. I typically flip “What’s your most loved _____?” issues to “What’s your Least beloved ______?” In its place of asking learners their preferred color, I asked what in their belief is the ugliest color. Primarily for youngsters, saying one thing to be a most loved can make them feel self-aware or as if they’re getting put on the place (how lots of of us really know our favored tune?), but as humans go, we can frequently instantly say what we dislike.
  • Really encourage pleasant competition. When inquiring students which way to lower a sandwich is the correct way (straight throughout or diagonally), I stored a tally of the responses and shared the last winner when all courses had voted. These inconsequential but enjoyment competitions keep the young ones engaged and curious about how other learners answer. 
  • Some questions will flop. Hey, they just can’t all be a strike. If a problem doesn’t go around effectively one particular day, just wrap it up and hold it relocating. Really do not place large anticipations on each solitary AQ some will surprise you with their level of popularity and other individuals will fall flat. It is Okay!
  • Look for alternatives almost everywhere! The world wide web is good for finding ready-to-use suggestions (these kinds of as this “Which color is for math?” meme identified on Twitter), but your very own buddies can offer solutions as effectively. When my ideal close friend from superior university shared this image of her son’s bath toys in an IG story, I borrowed it and employed it in courses the future working day:

Example of attendance question regarding bath toys

If you have just started out the school 12 months, it’s not far too late to commence the observe of the every day attendance concern. Think about your course sizes, ages, and out there instruments and decide what sort of AQ will work greatest for you. With a very little time and regularity, the attendance problem will come to be a beloved fixture of your classroom and a memory your pupils will have with them extended after their time in your course is around.

Do you have a excellent concept for an attendance query? Share it with us in the feedback!

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