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Are Attendance Questions the Greatest Secondary Instructing Secret?


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

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

Throughout on-line educating, I started tweeting about my every day attendance questions (or AQs), and it stays one of many matters I’m most steadily 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 in 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 we’ve all 12 months lengthy. If you happen to’re in search of a surefire, fully free, and endlessly entertaining technique to get to know and keep linked together with your college students via the college 12 months, the attendance query is simply the software.

What’s an attendance query anyway?

Merely put, the every day attendance query is a low-stakes query introduced to college students in the beginning of every class, usually 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 refined marker that our studying time has begun. Consider it as a mushy 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 essential to implement the AQ routinely. (In reality, within the uncommon cases I’ve forgotten to submit one, the children 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 children count on and sit up for every day.

How do you employ them?

There’s any variety of doable 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 referred to as throughout attendance. His rationale for that method was that it doesn’t matter what, this ensured that every little one had spoken aloud and had their voice heard in school every day. 

In the beginning of sophistication every day, I submit the AQ on the touchdown web page of our studying administration system (in my district, we use Schoology; should you have been utilizing Google Classroom, for instance, the AQ would possibly get posted into the stream). This method works properly for a couple of completely different causes: It permits me to embed visuals which may assist the query; it permits college students to submit a written response fairly than communicate up in the event that they’re extra reserved; and (this one’s a little bit sneaky) it helps put together the children for the remainder of class by making certain they’ve already acquired their units and our class Schoology web page open earlier than instruction begins. 

As soon as the query is posted, college students kind their responses whereas I take attendance. I’ll learn out solutions, ask sure college students for extra element, or trace at how different lessons responded to the identical query to encourage competitors. I all the time 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 would affect theirs, however actually it’s so I can see which method the responses lean and resolve tips on how to formulate my response to generate additional dialog or to maximise controversy and drama.

The secret is developing with attendance query!

Each the standard and number of the attendance query are essential to maintain children collaborating. 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 shade?” or “Pizza or tacos?”) are only a bit too restricted to carry the children’ curiosity if the questions observe the identical sample every day. I’ve discovered that mixing up the format of the query, together with visuals and choices the place doable, and discovering methods to make the attendance questions really feel personally geared to the category all assist to maintain participation energetic. 

I give you many of the AQs I exploit myself; typically 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 doable attendance query materials, you’ll see that in actual life and on-line, there are limitless potentialities for inspiration. Beneath are some AQs I’ve used up to now, damaged into broad classes, and the way I discover inspiration for brand new attendance questions every year.

A should: AQs with visible choices

I like to provide college students a collage of photographs and ask them to tag themselves or select one of many supplied choices. This lowers the barrier for participation and takes a few of the strain off of developing 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 differ 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

Probably the most in style 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 type of attendance query can typically 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 based mostly on present tendencies/matters

Although it’s essential to have a set of evergreen choices for these days whenever you’re feeling much less impressed (click on right here for my listing!), typically an AQ predicated on a present matter is the discussion-starter you’re in search of. When the Met Gala passed off in September 2021, I used the over-the-top costumes to create a “Select your Met Gala fighter” AQ with celebrities who have 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. After I used this query in school, college students had pre-generated proof and assertions all able to go to again up their positions. For college kids who might not be conscious of those tendencies, the questions might lack that further 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 listing of questions: The probabilities of who or what could be the subject of the attendance query are dynamic and ever-evolving. These are the questions that children bear in mind most and are on the coronary heart of the complete follow: We’re doing this as a technique to join with each other. 

Previously, I’ve executed this by posting two truths and a lie and having the children establish the lie (as a bonus, you possibly can ask scholar volunteers to guest-star and submit their very own two truths and a lie for his or her friends to puzzle over). I’ve requested “Which college drill is the very best college drill?” and “Why does my arm really feel like that?” When the duck that lays her eggs in our college courtyard returned this spring, one AQ requested the children 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 style purchases made in the course of the evening.

Attendance question about shoes

Student responses to an attendance question about shoes

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

Tweet from Jessica Kirkland regarding selfie attendance question

Extra 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 standard query to shake issues up. I typically flip “What’s your favourite _____?” inquiries to “What’s your LEAST favourite ______?” As an alternative of asking college students their favourite shade, I requested what of their opinion is the ugliest shade. 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 tune?), however as people go, we will typically promptly say what we dislike.
  • Encourage pleasant competitors. When asking college students which technique to lower a sandwich is the correct method (straight throughout or diagonally), I saved a tally of the responses and shared the ultimate winner as soon as all lessons had voted. These inconsequential however enjoyable competitions preserve the children engaged and interested in how different college students reply. 
  • Some questions will flop. Hey, they’ll’t all be successful. If a query doesn’t go over properly at some point, simply wrap it up and preserve it shifting. Don’t place excessive expectations on each single AQ; some will shock you with their recognition and others will fall flat. It’s OK!
  • Search for potentialities all over the place! The web is nice for locating ready-to-use concepts (equivalent to this “Which shade is for math?” meme discovered on Twitter), however your personal mates can present strategies as properly. When my greatest good friend from highschool shared this image of her son’s bathtub toys in an IG story, I borrowed it and used it in lessons the following day:

Example of attendance question regarding bath toys

If you happen to’ve simply began the college 12 months, it’s not too late to start the follow of the every day attendance query. Think about your class sizes, ages, and accessible instruments and decide what sort of AQ works greatest for you. With a little 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 might have an amazing thought for an attendance query? Share it with us within the feedback!

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