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HomeEducation NewsAre Attendance Questions the Greatest Secondary Educating Secret?

Are Attendance Questions the Greatest Secondary Educating Secret?


For months I obtained numerous Remind texts from college students with footage of waffle fries. I saved a group of images from the Barbie Instagram on my telephone. I’ve bought (and returned) a number of pairs of footwear.

All due to my most beloved instructing follow: the attendance query.

Throughout on-line instructing, I started tweeting about my every day attendance questions (or AQs), and it stays one of many matters I’m most incessantly tagged in on Twitter, particularly this time of 12 months, as lecturers search inspiration and new actions to strive. 

Though I’m not the creator of the idea of utilizing attendance questions at school, over time I’ve refined how the AQ is utilized in my classroom. I’ve give you ingenious methods to maintain the questions participating, sudden, and better of all, turbines of a few of the most memorable (and hysterical) conversations now we have all 12 months lengthy. For those who’re searching for a surefire, fully free, and endlessly entertaining option to get to know and keep related along with your college students by the college 12 months, the attendance query is simply the device.

What’s an attendance query anyway?

Merely put, the every day attendance query is a low-stakes query introduced to college students at first of every class, sometimes across the time attendance is taken. It’s not fairly an icebreaker, not precisely a do-now or a warm-up, however extra of a dialog starter and a delicate marker that our studying time has begun. Consider it as a gentle opening earlier than we start the “actual” work of studying. For secondary college students, it fulfills the operate of morning assembly in elementary college.

Due to what it’s designed to do, it’s necessary to implement the AQ routinely. (In truth, within the uncommon situations I’ve forgotten to publish one, the youngsters develop into irate and scold me to get my act collectively.) In a short time, it turns into a predictable and welcome routine that the youngsters count on and look ahead to every day.

How do you utilize them?

There’s any variety of potential methods lecturers can use to introduce the AQ every day. My colleague Paul would have every scholar verbally share out their response to the AQ as their identify was known as throughout attendance. His rationale for that method was that it doesn’t matter what, this ensured that every youngster had spoken aloud and had their voice heard at school every day. 

Originally of sophistication every day, I publish the AQ on the touchdown web page of our studying administration system (in my district, we use Schoology; for those who had been utilizing Google Classroom, for instance, the AQ may get posted into the stream). This method works properly for a number of totally different causes: It permits me to embed visuals that may help the query; it permits college students to submit a written response moderately than communicate up in the event that they’re extra reserved; and (this one’s a bit sneaky) it helps put together the youngsters for the remainder of class by making certain they’ve already received their gadgets and our class Schoology web page open earlier than instruction begins. 

As soon as the query is posted, college students sort their responses whereas I take attendance. I’ll learn out solutions, ask sure college students for extra element, or trace at how different courses responded to the identical query to encourage competitors. I at all times take part with the scholars and share my reply as properly, however I allow them to reply first. I joke that if I shared my response first, it’d affect theirs, however actually it’s so I can see which method the responses lean and determine find out how to formulate my response to generate additional dialog or to maximise controversy and drama.

The bottom line is arising with a very good attendance query!

Each the standard and number of the attendance query are necessary to maintain youngsters taking part. Some generally shared attendance questions have been used so many instances that they’re now not new and debatable (suppose: “Is a sizzling canine a sandwich?”) and a few (e.g., “What’s your favourite colour?” or “Pizza or tacos?”) are only a bit too restricted to carry the youngsters’ curiosity if the questions comply with the identical sample every day. I’ve discovered that mixing up the format of the query, together with visuals and choices the place potential, and discovering methods to make the attendance questions really feel personally geared to the category all assist to maintain participation full of life. 

I give you a lot of the AQs I exploit myself; generally I borrow from others or adapt some from social media that translate properly to the AQ format. When you’ve developed a method of curating potential attendance query materials, you’ll see that in actual life and on-line, there are limitless prospects for inspiration. Under are some AQs I’ve used prior to now, damaged into broad classes, and the way I discover inspiration for brand spanking new attendance questions every year.

A should: AQs with visible choices

I really like to offer college students a collage of pictures and ask them to tag themselves or select one of many offered choices. This lowers the barrier for participation and takes a few of the strain off of arising with a novel response. Including these questions into the combination retains participation ranges excessive and offers straightforward opt-ins for all college students.

This was final 12 months’s AQ on the primary day of college, impressed by a visit to a Florida aquarium: “Tag your self: Which dolphin are you?” (I used to be clearly Nefario.)

A dolphin-related attendance question used by teacher Jessica Kirkland

You’ll be able to fluctuate your questions for seasons: (“Which jack-o’-lantern are you?”)

Example of pumpkin-related attendance question from a teacher

Or in response to a scholar remarking the day earlier than that they’d by no means heard of a Furby: (“You’re a Furby now. Tag your self.”)

Example of Furby Attendance Question

One of the well-liked AQs I posted final college 12 months was “Which old-school cellular phone ought to come again?” With a plethora of choices to select from and debate, this fashion of attendance query can usually generate heated dialogue, with contributors defending their very own responses or debating each other’s preferences, and lead to a different of my favourite whole-class actions: the Google search-turned-wormhole.

Example of cell phones used as attendance question

AQs primarily based on present developments/matters

Although it’s necessary to have a group of evergreen choices for these days whenever you’re feeling much less impressed (click on right here for my record!), generally an AQ predicated on a present subject is the discussion-starter you’re searching for. When the Met Gala befell in September 2021, I used the over-the-top costumes to create a “Select your Met Gala fighter” AQ with celebrities who had been recognizable to the scholars:

Example of Met Gala attendance question

Equally, the (seemingly) innocuous question of “Are there extra doorways or wheels on the earth?” was throughout TikTok’s FYP final spring. Once I used this query at school, college students had pre-generated proof and assertions all able to go to again up their positions. For college students who is probably not conscious of those developments, the questions might lack that extra context however are nonetheless simply accessible and enjoyable to take part in discussing.

The clincher: AQs personally tailor-made to the category

Essential to incorporate within the rotation are attendance questions that apply to your personal private context. These questions make sure that the every day follow of the attendance query doesn’t really feel like an nameless exercise culled from a pre-generated record of questions: The chances of who or what may be the subject of the attendance query are dynamic and ever-evolving. These are the questions that youngsters keep in mind most and are on the coronary heart of the whole follow: We’re doing this as a option to join with each other. 

Prior to now, I’ve carried out this by posting two truths and a lie and having the youngsters determine the lie (as a bonus, you possibly can ask scholar volunteers to guest-star and publish their very own two truths and a lie for his or her friends to puzzle over). I’ve requested “Which college drill is the most effective college drill?” and “Why does my arm really feel like that?” When the duck that lays her eggs in our faculty courtyard returned this spring, one AQ requested the youngsters to guess what number of eggs she was hatching. Notably, I’ve invited the scholars to weigh in on whether or not I ought to preserve or return vogue purchases made in the midst of the night time.

Attendance question about shoes

Student responses to an attendance question about shoes

One among my ninth graders this previous college 12 months had a behavior of taking selfies on my telephone anytime I left it out. As soon as I’d amassed a large assortment, I requested every class to select which of his selfies was their favourite. Not solely did he love being the main target of the attendance query, the scholars received to see a glimpse of what different courses moreover theirs are like and the relationships that transcend the boundaries of a classroom.

Tweet from Jessica Kirkland regarding selfie attendance question

Further Useful Ideas

  • Be aware to make sure that the attendance query doesn’t search or demand an excessive amount of vulnerability. They’re engaged as a bunch and visual for all. Attendance questions shouldn’t depend on college students sharing something they could contemplate too private or delicate.
  • Flip a typical query to shake issues up. I usually flip “What’s your favourite _____?” inquiries to “What’s your LEAST favourite ______?” As an alternative of asking college students their favourite colour, I requested what of their opinion is the ugliest colour. Particularly for youngsters, claiming one thing to be a favourite could make them really feel self-conscious or as in the event that they’re being placed on the spot (how many people actually know our favourite track?), however as people go, we are able to usually promptly say what we dislike.
  • Encourage pleasant competitors. When asking college students which option to reduce a sandwich is the fitting method (straight throughout or diagonally), I saved a tally of the responses and shared the ultimate winner as soon as all courses had voted. These inconsequential however enjoyable competitions preserve the youngsters engaged and interested in how different college students reply. 
  • Some questions will flop. Hey, they’ll’t all be a success. If a query doesn’t go over properly sooner or later, simply wrap it up and preserve it transferring. Don’t place excessive expectations on each single AQ; some will shock you with their reputation and others will fall flat. It’s OK!
  • Search for prospects in every single place! The web is nice for locating ready-to-use concepts (comparable to this “Which colour is for math?” meme discovered on Twitter), however your personal mates can present solutions as properly. When my greatest good friend from highschool shared this image of her son’s tub toys in an IG story, I borrowed it and used it in courses the subsequent day:

Example of attendance question regarding bath toys

For those who’ve simply began the college 12 months, it’s not too late to start the follow of the every day attendance query. Take into account your class sizes, ages, and accessible instruments and decide what sort of AQ works greatest for you. With a bit time and consistency, the attendance query will develop into a beloved fixture of your classroom and a reminiscence your college students will carry with them lengthy after their time in your class is over.

Do you will have an important thought for an attendance query? Share it with us within the feedback!

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