Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dealing with Absences: Mine and Theirs

Whew. Do you realize it is half way through September already? I have hit the wall. You know, that one that appears after the excitement of beginning school fades and you are facing the rest of the year? Really? It's just me? Hmmm.

I am struggling a lot right now with my classes, chemistry especially. I have had four kids with extended absences (out an entire week) so far. That coupled with me taking our cross country team early every Thursday is really throwing me off.

One of the big ideas with the modeling is that kids are a part of the discussion and learn the material by listening and asking questions of their peers as they are presenting results. It's a little hard to participate if you aren't there.

I have toyed with the idea of recording every whiteboard session, but that doesn't really seem plausible. I feel terrible just telling them to "go discuss it with your group," mostly because they just end up copying the work and not really making any attempt to learn anything. So while I'm venturing into unknown territory here, I have come up with a few ideas.

First, I have started a blog for my chemistry class. At the end of the day, I put a summary up of what each hour did* along with any assignment given. I am toying with the idea of having the students take turns writing up a conclusion for the day, but I am not sure of the logistics involved with that.

Second, I have created an answer key notebook. I don't grade homework and I could foresee my bulletin board becoming extremely disorganized and messy if I posted the answer keys there. So I went to the office and got a bright orange notebook and am collecting answer keys in there. Now if I could just find a convenient, accessible place to put it.

Third, I have created a website. I have done this for my Earth Sciences and wasn't really going to bother with chemistry, but it just seemed necessary. I have two students who are in the hospital right now and I needed a way for them to keep up on the labs. So I took pictures of each step of the lab and posted them on the site. It is my hope that they will be able to take data from the pictures and get to a decent conclusion based on that. Ideally I would just wait and have them come into the lab to make it up, but I think they are under enough stress without chemistry piling up. Eventually, I would like to add in tutorials for each unit, but I'm thinking I don't need to add to my to-do list right now.

What do you think? Any ideas? How do you handle kids who have missed so much?

Of course, both hours are NOT in exactly the same place :(


Mrs. Tenkely said...

Tracie, I think you are on top of it! The blog/notebook/website combination sounds like it will be a great solution to the problem of absences. It will have the added benefit of providing a place where you have recorded the year and students can go back for review or extra help throughout the year. Best of luck, I hope the kids take advantage of the resources you are providing them!

Tracie Schroeder said...

Thanks Mrs. T! I have always had a hard time keeping absent kids up to date, so I am hoping at least one of these survives

Unknown said...

Hi Tracie!
I discovered your blog a few days ago- I've been to a modeling workshop, but never really implemented it into my teaching. I loved it, but it just wasn't the right time. I am seriously considering just diving in, along with SBG. We have so many kids here that just are gone all the time. Have these methods stuck for you? Have you developed new methods? Thanks-

Tracie Schroeder said...

Jennifer...Of course, they are always undergoing revision and I add in and take away as it fits in with my teaching style, but the big ideas have stayed with me. I really do love the way I have my classroom set up based on the Modeling and SBG. My theory has always been to just dive in and work through it as I go. Be aware that diving in with BOTH of those may be overwhelming, if not for you, but for your kids if this is going to be a huge shift in philosophy for them. For mine it definitely was and actually still is :) Communication is key here: with your admin, with your parent, with your kids. My principal has been able to diffuse some of the backlash simply by being informed and on board with what I am doing. That being said I hope you do! And never hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!

My Menu