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Monday, November 5, 2018

While You Were Out...

"Did I miss anything while I was out?"  Anytime a student asked that question I always just stared at them for a tempting as it was to reply, "No, we all just sat around yesterday and did absolutely nothing," I minded my tongue.  I know they mean well, but I always got a kick out of the way it was if the planets aligned perfectly so that they would somehow get away with no make-up work responsibilities.

It is easy in a bustling classroom environment to forget to collect make-up work for an absent student.

I decided that I wanted to start a "While You Were Out" folder for each student that was absent.  I figured I could collect any work we had done in the folder and the student would be able to see exactly what they missed.  

This was a great tool, and it really helps keep up with the work, but it was even better once I learned to share the responsibility with my students.  At first, I thought about making it a classroom job, but found it easier to have the students sitting near the absentee help out!

Once we were done with our morning work, and the announcements were done, I would place a "While You Were Out" folder on the desks of students who were not there.  Now, as the year went on, the students began coming up and getting these for their neighbors who were absent.  (Woo hoo!)

At the beginning of the year, I had explained the purpose of the folders, and told the students how they would help.  I explained that if their neighbor was absent, they would help by being sure their neighbor got a copy of each sheet or activity they had a copy of, put the absentee's name on the assignment, and place it in the folder.  The students liked the responsibility, and using the folders stopped work from being shoved into their absent students's desk where they wouldn't see it.

As time went on, I made a form to add to the folder to cover any non-physical activities or assignments.  Some students were able (and excited) to help with this aspect as well, but I would sometimes write it or check it myself to be sure it was correct.  (You can get that form here for free from my Teachers Pay Teachers store!)

Now, collecting the make-up work is one thing, getting it done and returned is quite another.  To help with this, we had rules for the While You Were Out folder.  The folders were to stay ON the desk, never in it.  This helped keep them in one piece, but also served as a constant reminder that there was work to do if they finished assignments or activities early.   (In any case we had to remove everything from the desk for a science lab or other activity, we put them on the marker tray of the board until the activity was over.)

Depending on how quick the student is with the make-up work, you can have them turn in each assignment as they are finished (checking it off as you go), or they can turn the entire folder back in at once with all of the work.  This totally depends on your preference!

On a related note, I also kept a running log of who was missing work.  If I was grading a pile of papers, I'd note who I didn't receive an assignment from, or who was getting it back to do some additional work, etc...  These names went in a box on the board that said "Missing Work!"  This served as a reminder for students who had finished an assignment early and had extra time in class.

 Free While You Were Out Folder Covers and Form!

If you haven't tried using a folder for your absent students, I highly recommend it!  You can get 3 different designs for folder covers and the form in my store for free! Just click the cover above to go to my store so you can download the file. If you have any other tips or ideas for keeping up with make-up work, please share your ideas below!