Taking inventory while taking attendance

There’s not enough time in the day to do it all.

You have a lesson to teach. You want to learn who your students are and what they know. You have a have a sense of their background knowledge.

Getting to know your students can make the difference in building a foundation for learning, but when do you check in with them? How do you assess what they are thinking and how they are feeling?

You still have a million other things to do, like taking attendance.

Combine taking an interest or information inventory while taking attendance. Ask an attendance question in every class. You’ll be able to mark who’s present while gauging student readiness by asking an attendance question.

The attendance question is a powerful tool in the classroom. Asking this one question can help you check for understanding or gauge interest. The answers your students come up with will tell you what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling.

Most importantly, the attendance question you ask will build community. You’ll see your students paying attention to what their peers say. There will be fewer distractions. Attendance may even improve.

The open-ended attendance question engages students and gets them ready to participate in class. By making the attendance question part of the daily routine, students look forward to this part of the class. Begin with simple questions focused on the student. As you build trust in the classroom, move from the intrinsic to the extrinsic.

Who are you?

  • What’s your favorite food?
  • What city would you like to visit?
  • How did you get to school today?
  • What career would you choose for yourself?
  • What’s your pet peeve?
  • Who is the most memorable person in your life?
  • What will you be like 20 years from now?
  • What language would you like to learn?

What’s the environment like?

  • What color is your world?
  • On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how would you rate your day?
  • What worries you most?
  • What does the age ___ (fill in the blank) sound like?
  • How does blue smell?
  • What kind of weather are you experiencing?
  • What temperature is it where you are?
  • What current event have you heard about this week?

Connect with content

  • Name a character from the story/play most like you.
  • Name a character from the story /play least like you.
  • Which vocabulary word describes you?
  • Name an important fact from the chapter.
  • Give an example of an action verb.
  • Give an example of a polygon.

Change your present routine and generate authentic interest by varying the questions each day. On some days you may want to treat taking attendance as a game, speeding up the time it takes the class to participate. On other days, slow down and discuss the answers your students provide.

Get rid of answering roll call by banishing “here” and “present.” By asking your students thoughtful attendance questions, you’re activating prior knowledge and engaging them in the lesson before they even know what’s going on.

When you ask attendance questions, you’re also developing a rapport with your students. Create meaningful and healthy relationships with your students, and you’ll find that they are more receptive to learning.

Choose your Reaction!